Ripe muscadines lying on the road are a sure sign of late summer. They are ubiquitous on the mountain. The vines are thick in the woods and on the ground along our driveway, but the most ripe grapes I have seen lately are across the road from the driveway. They grow in small groups but not in bunches like most commercially-raised grapes.
These are nearly ripe. These turn almost black at the peak of ripeness. Other varieties range from lighter red to green when ripe.
Ripe muscadines fall readily off the vine.
I think I posted some time ago about cutting some trees in the woods at our old house and not being able to get the trees to fall because their tops were laced together by muscadine vines. The vines produce fruit on new growth, so they tend to grow vigorously. I have read on one site that the original European settlers in the Southeast found old muscadine vines a foot in diameter. I haven’t seen any that thick, but vines a few inches in diameter are not uncommon.
Muscadines are native to the American South. According to the California Rare Fruit Growers Web site, they can be grown in the warmer grape-growing regions of California, Oregon and Washington, but their true home and the place they do the best is in the warm, humid, long summers of the American Southeast.
Grapes are apparently toxic to dogs, but Sam has been a little too quick for me on a couple of occasions and has scarfed down a grape or two. No ill effects so far, but I do need to keep him away.
Muscadines have a strong, musky but quite pleasant taste. The skins are thick and tough and the seeds are almost inextricable from the pulp. One Georgia gardening expert suggests putting a grape in the mouth, biting into the skin, sucking the juice, and then spitting the skin and pulp out. This, like watermelon eating, is best done outdoors.