Grapes those juicy bursts of sunshine nestled in clusters on leafy vines. They’re a summer staple, a picnic treat, and a versatile ingredient that shines in sweet and savory dishes. But have you ever wondered what lurks beneath their plump skin? Or when these little wonders reach their peak flavor? This guide is your portal to the world of grapes season. We’ll peel back the layers (pun intended!) to explore their history, delve into the diverse realm of grape varieties, and answer the burning question: when is grape season? – We will also discuss the current grape shortage.

What Are Grapes? 

Grapes are a delicious, versatile fruit that can be enjoyed in many forms. Scientifically known as Vitis vinifera, grapes belong to the berry family and grow in clusters on woody vines. There are thousands of different grape varieties, but some of the most popular are green grapes, red grapes, black grapes, and purple grapes. 

Grapes are packed with nutrients and antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and resveratrol. They have a sweet, tart flavor that makes them perfect for eating raw, making juice or wine, adding to salads, blending into smoothies, and incorporating into both savory and sweet recipes. Grapes can be seedless or have edible seeds and range in size from just a few millimeters to over an inch long.

When Are Grapes In Season?

In the United States, the peak season for grapes runs from May through January. However, the exact grape harvesting and availability times can vary somewhat based on geographical region and grape variety. Here is a more detailed breakdown:

May – July: This is when you’ll find the very first grapes of the season. During these months, look for green grapes and early varieties of red and black grapes. The early-season grape crop comes primarily from Mexico and parts of California.

August – October: Grape production ramps up during late summer and early fall. Washington, Oregon, New York, and Michigan start harvesting grapes in addition to California and Mexico. More grape varieties become available like crimson, muscat, Concord, and slip skin.

November – January: Fall through early winter is peak grape season. Major producers like California, Chile, and South Africa are in full swing. This is when you’ll find the widest selection of grape types including late harvest and storage varieties that last into winter.

The timing can shift slightly based on weather patterns and location. For example, grapes may come into season a few weeks earlier in southern, warmer regions versus northern, cooler areas. But in general, you can find fresh grapes in stores and markets during those peak months for each area.

How to Store Grapes?

Storing grapes properly is important for preserving freshness and preventing spoilage. Here are some tips:

  • Refrigerate grapes soon after purchasing. The cold environment helps slow ripening and keeps grapes crispy. 
  • Before refrigerating, inspect grape clusters and remove any mushy or spoiled grapes to avoid spreading decay.
  • Place grapes in a perforated plastic bag, then loosely wrap the bag in a paper towel before refrigerating. This prevents moisture accumulation while still allowing airflow.
  • Grapes can be stored in the refrigerator crisper drawer for 1-2 weeks. Check periodically and remove any grapes starting to shrivel or mold.
  • You can also freeze grapes for longer storage. Wash grapes and pat dry. Place them in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze, then transfer to freezer bags once frozen solid.
  • Wash grapes just before eating and avoid washing them too far in advance, as moisture speeds up spoilage.

Following proper storage methods helps grapes retain their flavor, texture, and nutrients for more extended enjoyment.

Why is there a Grape Shortage?

In recent years, grape yields in major growing regions like California have declined, resulting in grape shortages and increased prices. A few key factors are driving this shortage:

Weather issues: Unfavorable weather like droughts, late freezes, and excessive rain or heat during flowering can significantly reduce grape harvests. This has happened in California and South America.

Supply chain disruptions: Pandemic-related labor shortages, transportation delays, and supply/demand imbalances have impacted grape distribution.

Changes in land use: Some areas have shifted land from grape growing into uses like marijuana cultivation and solar farming. For example, this has occurred in California.

Increased demand: As grapes have grown in popularity for wine, juices, jams, and direct consumption, demand has outpaced supply.

You can check out BusinessShortFall for more shortage-related guides!

How Many Types of Grapes Are There?

While there are thousands of different grape cultivars, they all belong to one main species, Vitis vinifera. Within this species, there are three main types of grapes:

Table Grapes – These are grapes intended for fresh eating and include well-known varieties like Thompson seedless, red globe, cotton candy, and Concord grapes. There are over 100 common table grape cultivars.

Wine Grapes – Grapes are meant for wine production. Popular wine grape varieties include cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, and riesling. There are over 1,300 wine grape varieties.

Raisin Grapes – Varieties dried to produce raisins, like Thompson seedless grapes. A few dozen grape cultivars are suitable for raisin production.

Table, wine, and raisin grapes have differences in ideal growing conditions, harvest times, sweetness levels, textures, and uses. But all types belong to the same grape species and share some basic characteristics like growing in clusters on vines and having soft, thin skins. The huge range of cultivars allows grapes to thrive in varied climates and serve diverse purposes.


Grapes are a nutritious, refreshing fruit that can be found in abundance during late spring through winter. Optimal grape storage, like refrigeration and proper humidity levels, helps preserve their taste and shelf life. Fluctuations in yields and consumer demand have led to recent grape shortages. But there are thousands of grape varieties suitable for eating fresh, making wine, drying into raisins, and incorporating into recipes. 

Grapes make a healthy snack and ingredient that provides key vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other important compounds. Adding grapes to your diet may offer benefits for heart health, blood pressure, blood sugar, and more.

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