The Best Muscadine Vines

Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia) hail from the southeastern United States, so they naturally tolerate the summer heat, high humidity and acidic soils that California or European grape varieties do not generally like. Across the South, various varieties of muscadines exist, each with benefits or tolerances to local climates and soils. Contact local cooperative extension offices to learn of new cultivars the state land-grant university recommends.

Carlos

The Carlos variety is regarded as an excellent grape for juice, jelly and wine, and ripens early to mid-season. The bronze-colored fruits contain seeds and posses a delicious flavor. This variety is well-known for good winter cold hardiness and producing abundant crops. It is self-fertile, not requiring other grape vines to ensure pollination of flowers.

Cowart

Also self-fertile, Cowart develops large, seeded fruits mid-season that contain seeds. Although it makes a delicious table grape for fresh eating, this variety provides good yielding crops for making jelly and fresh juice. This vine also acts as a pollinator for other muscadine varieties needing cross-pollination for fruit development.

Fry

Perhaps the standard for fresh, table-served muscadine grapes, Fry produces very large, bronze grapes. The grapes ripen mid-season, often extending a harvest season across six weeks. These fruits are susceptible to rot if not promptly harvested. Fry grapes need additional vines nearby for pollination of their predominately female flowers.

Nesbitt

Demonstrating good growth vigor and tolerance to winter cold, Nesbitt produces large black grapes in the early to mid-season that make fantastic fresh table grapes. It may be used for jellies and juices, but when used for wine the liquid color produced is not attractive. This variety is self-fertile.

Noble

With excellent flavor, Noble is prized by wine and jelly makers as well as people who enjoy fresh table grapes. A self-fertile variety, it's vigorous and produces high yields of comparatively smaller grapes of black-purple late in the grape harvest season.

Summit

Wonderful as a table grape, Summit heavily produces large, bronze-colored fruits mid-season. With good fruit flavor, this vine also shows good disease resistance and tolerance of winter cold while consistently growing vigorously. Not self-fertile, plant other muscadine varieties nearby to facilitate flower pollination.

Triumph

Producing large bronze to almost golden yellow grapes early in the season, Triumph's grapes bear a hint of pineapple flavor in the flesh. Used for juice, wine and for table eating, this variety produces reliably heavy crops of grapes and is self-fertile.

Keywords: Vitis rotundifolia, muscadine varieties, growing grapes, grapes for South

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," non-profit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He holds a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne.