From raisins, to fruit salad, to wine – grapes provide a uniquely sweet, crisp flavor profile that offers a wide variety of uses. While green, white, and red grapes currently hold the spotlight as the most commonly used and eaten, there are rarer varieties that often go overlooked – their golden-hued counterparts, the yellow grapes.
There are currently only three types of grape that can solidly be classified as yellow, and because of this, it is important to understand what they are and what makes them so extraordinary.
In this article, we are going to explore the different strains of yellow grapes, their appearances, tastes, and locations, as well as what sets them apart from their cousins.
Vitis vinifera – commonly referred to as Dominga – is a grape strain native to the Mediterranean, which serves as a perfect environment in which these yellow grapes can grow. These plants thrive in direct sunlight, with shelter from the elements and roots that require sandy, well-drained soil. They are an excellent choice for amateur and intermediate growers, as they are simple plants that require little maintenance; in their ideal location, and with plenty of water, Dominga plants will yield beautiful, succulent fruits of a soft, subtle yellow.
The growth pattern of a Dominga plant relies heavily on its environment, however each plant does follow a rigid annual schedule. The vines must be pruned in early winter, after which they must be given space throughout the duration of the season. In spring, the vines will begin to flower, and will continue to do so well into the summer. By mid-autumn the grapes will have begun to sprout, and, in time, they will be ripe for harvest. The grapes do produce seeds, however their seed levels are relatively minimal compared to that of other grape strains.
Although its location of origin is the Mediterranean, where the hot sun beats down on the land for the majority of the year, these plants can be grown in gardens around the world given the right circumstances. And not only do they provide delicious fruit – they’re gorgeous to look at!
Moscato Giallo, otherwise known as Yellow Muscat, is a rare, but highly praised, strain of yellow grape. It falls into the diverse Moscato family, one of the oldest and most widespread categories of grape available. With over 200 strains, Moscatos are most commonly fermented to produce popular types of white wine; though its flavors are controversial, as many believe it to be an ‘acquired taste’, this grape family is held in overall respect – they are an excellent grape to make wine.
Yellow Muscat grapes are often lacking in attention – for no reason other than their obscurity. While a large majority of Moscato grapes can be grown globally, Yellow Muscats are almost exclusively central to the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, located in Northeastern Italy. It is interesting to note that many historians have claimed this strain to have originated in the Middle East before being transported to the Mediterranean, though this theory has been heavily scrutinized and contradicted.
These yellow grapes are quite unique in their fresh, floral perfumes and high concentration of sugar, which lends itself to a sweet and surprisingly palatable flavor profile when fermented.
Unfortunately, however, this strain cannot be replicated globally due to its very specific growth requirements; in order to comfortably thrive, Yellow Muscats must be grown in hilly environments with a significant amount of limestone available. Because of this, they are often constrained to the Italian Alps, which stretch from Northern Italy through Southwestern Germany, where it is commonly known as ‘Goldmuskateller.’
Due to their tenuous ability to adapt to different environments, Yellow Muscats are only to be maintained by expert growers and winemakers. Not only are they difficult to cultivate, but they also come with a litany of problems; they often have a tendency to overgrow and create a canopy effect, which thereby starves them of direct sunlight and stunts their development. For this reason, they must be trimmed and pruned regularly, which can be quite a large undertaking.
Additionally, the vines are rather vulnerable to chlorosis, a condition caused by high limestone content that leads to insufficient chlorophyll production, and must be given nutrient supplements on a daily basis as a preventative measure. Lastly, Yellow Muscats are notoriously susceptible to dead-arm, which is a fungal infection caused by a fungus called Phomopsis.
It’s clear to see why Moscato Giallo is such a rare and illustrious strain – in order to get these plants grown, fermented, crushed, and bottled, a group of dedicated viticulturists must undergo exhausting work that is rife with uncertainty, all while laboring in the hot Italian sun. All of this done in order for the rest of us to savor its distinctly satisfying taste.
Centennial seedless grapes, which are known officially as Vitis vinifera, is a relatively modern strain of yellow grape that was developed and harvested in 1966 by Dr. Harold Olmo, a professor of Viticulture & Enology at the University of California. It was not made available to the public until 1980, and was swiftly patented in 1981. Although Centennials aren’t as tried and true as its counterparts, it still offers a savory and desirable aroma and flavor.
While Centennials themselves don’t have much more to offer than the typical most common grapes, its recent cultivation and interesting appearance is enough to set it apart. The fruits produced by the vine are larger than average and seedless, with a firm, crisp bite and a flavor reminiscent of its older cousin, the Moscato.
These yellow grapes are more suitable for intermediate growers, as while they are not particularly difficult to maintain, they do require a bit of extra assistance. Most notably, they require long-term trellising – a wooden support which helps to keep the plants upright – and frequent, intensive pruning.
Centennials are also vulnerable to grey rot – a fungus which thrives in hot, humid environments, spreads rapidly, and tends to destroy entire berry bunches. It is also important to note that they are susceptible to molding when their leaves are removed, and have a tendency to shrivel if not kept under constant maintenance during transportation.
Due to its significant health issues and lack of popularity, this strain of yellow grapes is rarely the first choice for growers and, as a result, is fairly rare. There are many things that factor into a fruit’s popularity, and originality and ease of growth are two very large ones. Still, Centennials are a glory to behold due to their unique appearance and origin.
Wrapping Up Yellow Grapes
Whether looking to grow your own yellow grapes at home, or simply love reading up on new and interesting topics, hopefully this guide has brought you some new insight as to the different kinds of yellow grapes and why they remain so mystifying and rare. Like any other plant, yellow grapes require a high quality of care – though, in some cases (like that of the Moscato Giallo), that can be an understatement.
If any of these plants sounded interesting to you, don’t hesitate to look into more information about them, or even try them out for yourself! Just make sure that you are getting them from a reliable, respectable source, and that they are ripe for the picking.
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