Feb 212012

I enjoy reading SGA’s articles & thought I’d write one after reading a recent article about grapes.

I am from NZ and ever since moving to Melbourne in the early 80’s have missed a particular grape which is very popular in NZ. It was supposedly invented in NZ and is a very aromatic & tasty grape. It is called Albany Surprise.

I decided rather than fly over every year in Feb/March I would import some cuttings & grow my own. So 3 years & about $5,000 later I picked up my 2 allowable plants from the quarantine people.So the year was 2004 & I selected the two spots to plant the vines at my smallish Caulfield home. I took things slowly, grew the vine, chopped off all the grapes for the first 4 years or so & now have the two original vines producing about 60 bunches each & 4 second generation vines producing 20 or so bunches each. They are prolific croppers and I probably cut off 4 times that amount.

So from mid January to mid February I forage everyday & eat a lot as the season draws to a close. Unfortunately every other critter in the area has the same idea. I am gradually building up the defenses with chicken wire & netting all around & individually wrapping each bunch in fly wire bags & now only lose 5 or 10%.

I see a lot of vines in my area but not a lot of grapes. You have to really look after them. Checking for pests and diseases, putting shade cloth over them if the temperature is over 32 and thinning out the branches, leaves & bunches.

I probably spend 100’s of hours looking after them throughout the year. It is entirely worth it. Happy eating everyone.

Cheers Gary

  3 Responses to “Albany Surprise Grapes”

  1. I am also from NZ (Central Otago) and this was my favourite grape variety also. I had some in April when I was home… Would love to know if I can get this vine here.

  2. Definitely this new year I will have grapes in our table! lols. SO yum!

  3. Hi Gary,

    I love NZ backyard grapes and have spent many tries at sneaking some off the vine without Mum catching us. I live in Sydney now, do you know if you can buy this variety here? They are to die for!



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