Possums, yellow jackets and adolescents are aficionados of a true Southern delicacy: muscadine grapes! The juicy fruits are available in grocery stores but they are best enjoyed picked right off the vine on a hot autumn afternoon. The muscadine grape is native to the Southeast. The fruit has been eaten and made into wine for hundreds of years. Its main drawback is the thick skin which protects the grape from disease in the humid South.
Muscadine grapes are produced in two skin colors: purple and bronze. The bronze grape is commonly called a “scuppernong” but a true Scuppernong is just one of several bronze-skinned muscadine grapes.
Muscadines are terrifically easy to grow. Given sunshine and something to climb on, they produce grapes annually with moderate gardener input. The main requirement is a yearly winter pruning, to stimulate new, vigorous, grape-bearing shoots. ‘Hunt’, ‘Cowart’ and ‘Triumph’ are excellent muscadine grapes to plant this fall.
One of the original nursery sources of grapes, Ison’s Nursery (770-599-6970), near Griffin, sells dozens of improved muscadines plus the older standard varieties.
Bottom’s Nursery, in Concord GA (770-884-5661) and Johnson Nursery are also good sources.