Get them while you can, locally grown sweet muscadines ripening now
Muscadines are often overlooked as a fruit.
They are a healthy super-fruit that grow well in our climate, and they have more antioxidants than blueberries.
Muscadines grow on vines like traditional grapes, but they have different properties. This time of year, they are ripening and will soon be ready for harvest, to turn into wine or for eating.
They are not known as a typical table fruit and are harder to eat than a traditional grape.
"Muscadines have a lot thicker skin, and so it's a little bit harder to bite through the skin. And it's a bit harder to chew. There are very large seeds on the inside," Adrian Prouty, Vineyard Manager at Georgia Winery in Ringgold, GA described.
They do taste sweet and delicious though.
You can eat the entire fruit, or you can bite the ripe muscadine to break open the skin and squeeze the juice and fruit flesh into your mouth.
You can also enjoy the nutritional benefits of muscadines through preserves, jellies, and wine.
About 90% of the muscadines grown in Georgia are turned into wine.
"They thrive in this area. They do very well in the heat and humidity, and that's where a lot of the other grapes fall short in this area," explained Prouty.
They are resilient plants that have their own pesticides and fungicides, and this year's weather was great.
"They want a lot of rain early season when they are first starting to bear fruit, and then later in the season you actually want them to have a little bit less water," Prouty told Channel 3.
This lack of water causes the sugars to concentrate inside the fruit.
For Georgia Winery, it takes about a year for muscadines to go from the vine to wine. They use a slower, freeze fermentation process in wine making.
"Freeze fermentation really helps lock in key fruit flavors into the wine, so our wines are known to be very powerful, fruity, sweet wines. We kind of have a niche in the market using this fermentation technique that we have," stated Prouty.
They have about six acres of vines at their farm location for wine production, which will be harvested at the end of September.
Additional muscadine vines are located at their retail store.
"When our muscadines are ripe at this location, we do what's called pick and pay. So, you basically come and pay $12 to get a one-gallon bucket, and you get to come out here and peruse the fields and pick your own muscadines," Prouty said.
Georgia Winery will begin their pick and pay for muscadines in about a week and a half. They will post when it officially starts.