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Cotton Candy Grapes. No Kidding.

Posted on Thu, 08/30/2012 - 19:35

I am not kidding. These Grapes taste just like Cotton Candy. They don’t come on a stick. They come on a vine…a Grape vine. And we don’t spin this candy. It was created the old-fashioned way. After searching the world over for some of the most unique Grape flavors and varieties, the growers at the Grapery have a Grape you just won’t believe until you eat one. It’s called “Cotton Candy.” Jim Beagle and Jack Pandol were on the hunt for a Grape that would change people’s perception of fruits and vegetables. They look for old varieties of Grapes wherever there is a Mediterranean climate, in Australia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, South America, Turkey, the Balkans. “When you ask someone what their favorite food is, they say, Italian, Mexican, Pizza, Asian. They don’t say, My favorite food is Grapes,” says Beagle. “That’s because too many growers grow to make their fruit pretty, not taste awesome. I wanted to give consumers a fruit that tastes so good, they’d call it their very favorite food.” The journey of the Cotton Candy began at the Grape breeding program at the University of Arkansas. The very first cross was in 2004. Most new Grape varieties will take over 20 years to develop. The Cotton Candy has taken 8 years, light speed in the world of new produce. The Mother Vine became known as 48-221, just a number. By 2006, Beagle and his colleagues found themselves with a lot of luck. Every Spring, the growers will cross, back-cross, re-cross literally thousands of varieties of Grapes. “We ended up parents that didn’t taste like Cotton Candy, but its offpring sure did,” Beagle says. “What caught my interest with this Grape was not it’s Cotton Candy taste,” Beagle says. “In fact, I thought it tasted like Toffy Candy, more like Caramel. That’s because I only eat the Grapes when they are still on the vine. On the vine, that’s what this Grape tastes like. But once you harvest the Grape, that’s when the Cotton Candy flavor appears. It’s absolutely amazing luck.” When you walk through most vineyards, you don’t smell Grapes. But when you walk through a Cotton Candy vineyard, you smell Cotton Candy all around. From the Mother Vine, Beagle planted 18 vines to see if the vines would create a crop two years in a row. They did, so in 2007, they planted 6 – 12 rows of Cotton Candy, with eight vines per row.   We wanted to see how the Grape handled the harvest, packing and shipping stress. In 2011, the first commercial block of Cotton Candy was in the ground. Cotton Candy on a stick was first introduced to the world at the 1904 World’s Fair. Today, I am proud to introduce the next Grape that will change the Grape industry. It’s grown right in the San Joaquin Valley, around Bakersfield and Delano. You ate Cotton Candy as a kid. Now you can enjoy life’s sweetest moment…guilt free. Cotton Candy Grapes, exclusively premiering at Raley’s and Bel Air in California.
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