Concord grape, newborn and amazing

Mrs. Homegrown here:

This lovely thing is a newborn, unfurling Concord grape leaf. I had no idea it would be so beautiful. Why the crazy pink? Why does it look like it was dipped in sugar?

Even more amazing is that this event, though spectacular, is tiny. The Concord grape in question is a presently a 10-inch high stick, newly planted bare root stock, almost invisible. Only the flash of color caught my attention today and drew me to it to inspect. That this stick is suddenly bearing sugary pink wonders seems like a miracle.

Wish us luck with this grape. It is meant to shade our back porch. However, we’re beset by the sharpshooters, and the disease they carry (ever wonder why SoCal doesn’t grow wine?) which killed the first vine we planted, and then proceeded to kill the second one we planted, even though that one was supposed to be resistant to that blight–leaving us without summer shade on the porch for…how many years now? Fingers crossed that this grape will thrive, and grow from 10 inches high to 10 feet high and spreading.

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  1. It is beautiful. Have you guys considered growing hops on the porch?

    Would neem oil keep the sharpshooters off your grape?

  2. @Paula: We grow hops in the front yard, so were hoping for grapes in the back.(gotta ensure the booze supply if hard times come!) If this fails, we’ll have to do some other vine. Erik is the sharpshooter expert around here, and he doesn’t believe neem would deter them.

  3. Wow. I had no idea that’s what a grape leaf would look like. And I’m shocked that you are getting that much leaf-age off a ten inch bare root! I ordered some for planting this Spring (it will be a while yet in MN!), I think mine are Catawba and Niagara…after seeing this, I’m even more excited!

  4. Not sure how well it’d grow in Southern California, or how well it’d resist Pierce’s disease, but have you considered growing Norton grapes? They’re remarkably resistant to most North American pests and pathogens, and they make a damned fine wine to boot.

  5. Good luck with the new grape stick! No sharpshooters 4 blocks away, and my Concords are leafing out like crazy. Got my fingers crossed for yours.

  6. Those are SO pretty! If you took a hug and a kiss, stuck ’em in a blender and turned them into flowers, that’s what you’d get. 🙂

  7. Christmas Limas would also make a great vine. Here by LAX airport I have them in a sunny location and they over-winter (with leaf loss, of course). The harvests are more abundant on the older vines. And Christmas Limas are yummy!

  8. Have you ever considered growning muscadine vines instead of grapes? They are N american natives, so pretty hardy. I don’t know anything about their resistance or lack thereof, to Sharpshooter. My grandmother had two vines in her yard in MS that never required a moments thought, but produced huge amounts of fruit.

  9. @Adam Smith: Muscadine has a great history, but I think they like to live in more humid places (ie the SE) than here.

    The native CA grape is hardy and resistant. We have one, but ours is fruitless! No one knows why.

    @Jeem: Sorry I missed your comment! I don’t know anything about Norton grapes. We’ll look into it, but I think the list of grapes resistant to this disease is incredibly short.

  10. Hate to break it to you, but both eastern Concord and “California Concord” (the usual one sold in So-Cal), are highly vulnerable to Pierce’s Disease. With luck you’ll get fruit for a few years but eventually, a random sharpshooter will likely put an end to it.

    If your native California vine is fruitless, please be aware that wild grapevines are either male, or female — not hermaphrodites as most domestic grapes are. Hermaphrodite vines are able to self pollinate, males and females of course can’t.

    If your wild vine is male, it will never bear fruit (except for the odd freak berry now and then). If it is female, it will bear fruit only if pollinated by a nearby male or hermaphrodite vine that blooms at the same time. You can tell if it’s male or female by looking closely at the blooms; just google grape flower pictures and then it won’t be hard to tell.

    Another possibility is that your vine is indeed a hermaphrodite (perhaps a cross between a wild and a domestic grape, as is the case with the “native” Roger’s Red), but that it is failing to fruit for another reason entirely….. How much sun is it getting? Grapes will not normally fruit in shade or partial shade, they only fruit in full sun. Maybe that’s the problem.

  11. Jeem — Norton grapes were tried in California long ago; they don’t like our climate. Also, they are “Pierce tolerant” to a point but they eventualy, slowly succumb to high loads of the microbe.

    The Lenoir (aka Black Spanish, Jacquez) is indeed immune to Pierces Disease, and was just about the only grape to survive the So-Cal epidemic of the 1880s. It’s common in Texas and sporadic in Northern Calif. but very hard to buy in So Cal; TX nurseries can’t ship here due to quarantine. However the San Diego fig grower happens to have this grape and can sell you some cuttings; that’s where I got mine.

    The grape, “America”, is alleged to be PD resistant enough for Calif. and is available from, however I have never tried it so I can’t vouch for it.

    Or you could wait a few years, M A Walker’s group at UC Davis is busily breeding Pierce-immune winegrapes, which will eventually be released through the Foundation Plant Services.

  12. Hey Anonymous,

    Thanks for your advice (even if it’s sad news about the concord). Think I’m going to wait for UC Davis before I plant any more grapes. Will have to think of another vine to cover that arbor in the meantime.

  13. Sunset Western Garden Book lists only 3 Pierce-Disease (PD) resistant grapes for Calif: America (source in prior link), Black Spanish (=Lenoir) (source in prior link), and Champanel.

    Texas and Florida publish lists of PD resistant grapes, but most are hard to find in Calif.

    The Texas list:

    The Florida list:

    The only source in Calif. for most of these is the National Clonal Germplasm Repository; the hybrid grape page is here: But many have never been tested in California; just because they are resistant to PD doesn’t mean they’ll grow well here.

    When I emailed Dr Walker at UC Davis, he told me to plant Lenoir and Blanc du Bois. Blanc du Bois is totally unobtainable in California, but as I noted above, I eventually found a source for the Lenoir/Black Spanish… after searching for a year and a half….

    One other option: Roger’s Red is a cross between a winegrape and the PD resistant Vitis Californica; it **probably** is PD resistant also. It grows insanely fast and has a beautiful red-leaf fall color — and, it bears grapes. Here’s a local source:

  14. Is your vine a true Concord or is it a hybrid? The University of Florida produced a PD resistant hybrid called “Blue Lake” that is often sold as a Concord in PD plagued areas. I have seen these grapes as far west as Texas and it is likely that they may be found in garden centers in SoCal as well. These plants are not like muscadine and produce bunch grapes that are tart and blue-purple. The grapes are good for juice and jelly and at least one site claims the juice is good in blended wines, altough I have not tried it myself and the University of Florida lists it as a juice/jelly grape only.

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