canning grape juice from wine grapes

Since returning from our vacation, I’ve been obsessed with wine grapes. Dennis eyes me suspiciously and says “no wine making, seriously, for heaven’s sake.”  And I don’t intend to become a winemaker, but I do like to blend wine grapes into fruity, tasty grape juice.

How could I help but be inspired when we spent the night in the hills above Ribeauvillé, on the recommendation of TrufflePig. This charming hotel, Le Clos Saint-Vincent, was a former cloister. The rooms were charming and very very French, with small brick private terraces and an incredible setting in the hills.

We walked behind the hotel, finding a mirabelle plum tree, two apple trees, rose bushes, and then nothing but wine grapes as far as the eye could see. A stunning view, interrupted by medieval Alsacian villages replete with red roofed homes, churches and cobbled narrow streets.

The Alsatian Wine Road, the Routes des Vins stretched out before us. Overflowing window boxes. Winstubs. Wine caves. Everywhere we looked the grape was celebrated.

So when we returned from our trip and at the first weekend’s farmer’s market I stumbled upon a farmer selling wine grapes, I knew I had to make juice.

I’ve made this juice for the last three years. It’s no bargain unless you have your own grapes. But it’s delicious. And Dennis loves it. If I had a sunny, critter-free spot in the garden, I would plant a grapevine. We just love grape juice.

It’s full of antioxidents. There’s no sugar. Just grapey goodness.

It couldn’t be easier. Find or pick eight quarts of wine grapes. All one kind, or a mix. I asked one farmer what kind of grapes he was selling and he shrugged. The vines were planted by his great grandfather, brought from Italy. They are all of suspicious and tasty origin, and any wine style grape will make delicious juice.

Taste before you buy and make sure they’re fully ripe. If they are too tart, you may choose to add sugar or honey or maple syrup. I never have. Not once in several years of grape juice canning. This is the grapiest grape juice you’ll ever taste.

Packed in these perfectly sized 12 oz jars, they’re adorable, right? and incredibly satisfying icy cold.

Sure, you can use it to make sorbet, or reduce it to a syrup to ribbon through ice cream. You can add it to sauces and to barbeque swabs. But around here we like it best chilled, and sipped straight from the jar.

10 thoughts on “canning grape juice from wine grapes”

  1. I can’t wait to try this out! We have grape vines on our property, and much like the guy you met at the market, I couldn’t tell you what kind they are, but some are green and some are purple.

  2. I too make gallons of grape juice every year, from our own vines. I guess I do it the easy way. I have a juice-steamer which I use. It makes beautiful clean and clear juice. So easy, when you have lots to do. We are picking this week, so I better get my equipment out and ready to go. I envy your trip, so beautiful.

  3. I have a very profilic grape vine in my backyard. I had always thought it was some kind of wine grape because the jelly made from it smelled so “winey.” However, I gave some to my neighbor who makes wine and he said it wasn’t a wine grape, but thought it was a Concord or something similar. It easily produces twelve, 5-gallon buckets of grapes every summer. I often give it away, but your “unsweetened” grape juice has convinced me that I should be drinking it myself. Thank you for the inspiration, Cathy!

  4. just found you blog and loved this first post I read. We live in Brooklyn and the place we rent had a Catawba grape vine growing in the backyard (they planted it there, it just didn’t come w/ the place). This was our first summer in this house and I could NOT believe how many grapes we got.Probably over 15 to 20 lbs in all. It was insanity. I almost was overwhelmed w/ what to do with them. I SO wish I found this post before I made 20 frickin’ cans of grape jam (christmas gift, anyone?). I love all the colors you have – an excellent idea! I’ll remember this one for next year if we are still living here.

  5. This is a great idea! We live in Ontario and there are wild grapes (or maybe they’re just forgotten?) growing along our local bike path, and it looks like they might just be destined for grape juice!

  6. After boiling the grapes and straining them into a large pot, I let them sit in the fridge overnight and poured it through another strainer again in the morning. The juice seemed a little thick so I added some water and poured it into a large pitcher and put it back in the fridge. I’ve been drinking it and it does taste good but theres a little sour bite in there with it. How long can I keep it in the fridge? Should I boil it again and sweeten it? I don’t have those canning jars. I’m worried about getting sick if I don’t do this right.

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