Table Grape Varieties
- Many table grape varieties are grown in Australia, but the four most popular are Thompson Seedless, Menindee Seedless, Crimson Seedless and Red Globe. The sweet and juicy Thompson Seedless is Australia’s current favourite.
- Thompson Seedless: small to medium yellow-green oblong shaped grape with a soft berry skin, firm juicy pulp, and a sweet flavour. Available from January to May.
- Menindee Seedless: light green to yellow oval-shaped grape with deliciously sweet, firm flesh and no seeds. Available from November to February.
- Crimson Seedless: light red, oval-shaped grape with a thick skin, firm crisp flesh and a sweet neutral juicy flavour. Available from February to May.
- Red Globe: pinkish-red grape that is very large, round and seeded. The berries have a crisp skin, fleshy pulp, and a very sweet taste. Available from December to May.
Choosing the best grapes
- Table grapes are picked by hand to avoid bruising and to ensure the best selection.
- When buying grapes, reach for firm, plump clusters that are securely attached to their stems – which should be green, not brown.
- Also, look for a silvery coating on red and black varieties. This is a natural bloom – not dust – that protects the fruit’s freshness.
- Table grapes develop natural sugars as they ripen on the vine, but they do not become any sweeter once picked. So always choose grapes that are ready to eat.
- When stored correctly in an airtight plastic container, grapes will stay fresh for up to a few weeks if refrigerated at very cool temperatures. Serve grapes slightly chilled to enhance their natural crispness.
Growing regions and seasons
- The season for fresh grapes runs for six to seven months. It starts in November, peaks in February and March and closes in May.
- Warm, dry summers and deep, rich soils provide the perfect environment for Australian growers to produce world class table grapes.
- Green, red and blue/black varieties of table grapes come from the major growing regions of Sunraysia and the Murray Valley in Victoria, the Riverina in NSW and south-eastern Queensland.
- Other growing regions include Carnarvon, the Swan Valley and south-west of Western Australia, central NSW, the Riverland in South Australia and central Northern Territory.
- Australia’s geographic expanse of grape production – and our diversity in climate and geology – means fresh Australian table grapes are available from November to May.
- Early season regions include the Northern Territory, Queensland (St George, Emerald and Mundubbera) and NSW (Bourke and Menindee).
- Late season grapes (which constitute 70% of production) come from the Sunraysia region of Victoria (Mildura and Robinvale).
- Western Australia produces table grapes for the majority of the season.
- Grapes are one of the oldest edible plants to be cultivated, along with olives. Fossils indicate that the consumption of grapes dates back as far as 5000BC.
- Grapes were brought to Australia with the First Fleet in 1788 by Captain Arthur Phillip, founder of the colony of New South Wales. He planted a small vineyard with cuttings from South America and South Africa as one of his first ventures in agriculture.
- There are more than 8,000 grape varieties worldwide.
Fun with grapes!
- Use frozen, halved grapes instead of ice as a natural way to chill and sweeten drinks.
- Put frozen seedless grapes in a blender and mix with enough water to make a refreshing grape-juice slushie.
- Add fresh or roasted grapes to salads for a little something extra. To roast grapes, place them on a baking tray in a 200°C oven for 10-15 minutes, or until soft and juicy. Toss them through steamed couscous with plenty of chopped fresh herbs, and pistachio nuts.
- For an easy, savoury appetiser, place some white or red table grapes on a cheese platter with walnuts, pecan nuts, dried figs and a selection of crackers. Grapes are best with soft cheeses such as brie or camembert, blue cheese and even cheddar.
- A decadent way to enjoy a bunch of Midnight Beauty black grapes is to leave the stem on, dip half of each grape in melted dark chocolate and allow them to sit and cool in a bowl before eating.