American Grapes

Grapes April 16, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Fox grapes       Riverbank grapes       Summer grapes       Sand grapes       Post oak grapes       Vitis champinii       Spanish grapes       Frost grapes       Mustang grapes       Gray-bark grapes       Bush grapes       Sweet mountain grapes       Muscadine grapes       For more information

Eric Stafne, Mississippi State University

American grapes are native to North America. They are often used to create interspecific hybrids (also called French-American grapes). American grapes serve as a natural repository for genetic resources or germplasm used to improve cultivated grapevines worldwide.

Mustang grapes (Vitis mustangensis) are native to the mid-South region of the U.S. Photo by Fritz Westover, Texas AgriLife Extension.

Fox grape (Vitis labrusca, V. labruscana)

The most well-known American grape. The most famous cultivars from this species are ‘Concord,’ 'Catawba,' ‘Niagara,’ and ‘Isabella.’ It has:

  • large berries
  • small clusters
  • fair pest resistance
  • a distinctive and strong flavor

Riverbank grape (V. riparia)

Several cultivars have this species in their lineage, such as ‘Beta,’ ‘Clinton,’ ‘Baco Noir,’ 'Frontenac', ‘Marechal Foch,’ and rootstocks 3309C, 5BB and SO4. It has:

  • small berries
  • small clusters
  • fair to good pest resistance
  • good vigor
  • easy rooting (which makes it attractive to use as a rootstock)
  • wide variation in ripening time and cold hardiness levels

Summer grape (V. aestivalis)

Mainly known for the cultivar 'Cynthiana,' aka 'Norton'. It has:

  • small to medium berries
  • medium to large open clusters
  • fair pest resistance
  • high sugar and high acid, so wine-making can be a challenge

Sand grape (V. rupestris)

Cultivars of this species are ‘St. George’ (aka 'Rupestris du Lot') and the rootstock hybrids 110R and 1103P. It has:

  • small berries
  • small to medium clusters
  • good pest resistance
  • good vigor
  • easy rooting
  • a very “wild” taste

Post oak grape (V. lincecumii)

This species is native to the southern plains. Many cultivars have this species in their background, including ‘Bailey,’ ‘Beacon,’ ‘Ellen Scott,’ ‘Marguerite,’ and ‘Rubaiyat.’ This species was hailed by T.V. Munson as being especially important for creating hybrid grape cultivars. It has:

  • medium to large berries
  • small to medium clusters
  • fair pest resistance
  • a distinctive “wild” taste, but different from V. labrusca

V. champinii

Cultivars: ‘Champanel,’ ‘Lomanto,’ and ‘Nitodal’. Rootstock cultivars: ‘Salt Creek’ (aka 'Ramsey') and ‘Dogridge,’ and rootstock hybrids with V. champinii as a parent: ‘Harmony’ and ‘Freedom.’ Native to Texas.

  • small clusters
  • medium sized berries
  • vigorous
  • roots easily
  • adapted to lime soils
  • resistant to nematodes and other pests
  • primarily for rootstock

Spanish grape (V. berlandieri)

  • small berries
  • medium clusters
  • adapted to lime soils
  • moderate pest resistance
  • poor rooting

Frost grape (V. cordifolia)

  • small berries
  • medium sized and open clusters
  • late ripening
  • very vigorous
  • poor to medium pest resistance
  • bitingly pungent with a strong wild taste

Mustang grape (V. mustangensis, V. candicans)

  • small clusters
  • medium to large berries
  • tough skin
  • biting pungency
  • tolerant of Pierce’s disease and other pests

Gray-bark grape (V. cinerea)

  • vigorous
  • small berries
  • loose clusters
  • tolerates lime soils
  • often found in riparian habitats
  • ripens late

Bush grape (V. longii)

  • medium berries
  • small clusters
  • early ripening
  • roots easily
  • adapted to lime soils
  • resistant to nematodes and other pests
  • used for rootstocks

Sweet mountain grape (V. monticola)

Native to Texas.

  • small clusters
  • medium sized berries
  • moderate vigor
  • poor rooting
  • adapted to dry and lime soils

Muscadine grape (Muscandinia rotundifolia, V. rotundifolia)

A parent of the rootstock hybrid 'VR O39-16'

  • large berry size
  • small clusters
  • mild to strong flavor
  • poor rooting
  • cold tender
  • excellent pest tolerance

Recommended Resources

Interspecific Hybrid (French-American) Wine Grapes

Vinifera, or European, Wine Grapes

The Super Gigantic Y2K Winegrape Glossary

Reviewed by Keith Striegler, University of Missouri
and Jim Wolpert, UC Davis

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.