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Nagano grapes are seedless and only slightly smaller than their Kyoho parents. The berries are perfectly spherical and grow in densely packed clusters on stout vines. The color of the Nagano grape is such a dark shade of purple it almost appears black. Its thin smooth skin is covered with a cloudy white film, or bloom, and is rather hard to peel. The firmly attached flesh is semi-translucent and very juicy with an almost gelatinous texture. The slightly astringent skin offers a necessary balance to the sweet grapey flesh.
Nagano grapes are available late summer through fall.
The Nagano grape is a cross between the Japanese hybrid grape known as Kyoho and the European varietal Rosario Bianco, classified as Vitis vinifera. It exhibits the concord-like qualities of its Kyoho parentage, but does not develop the same enormous berries, however they are still quite sizeable. It is a relatively new varietal that gets its name from the Nagano prefecture in Japan.
Nagano grapes are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, thiamine, dietary fiber and resveratrol, an important phytonutrient in maintaining heart health. They have a high sugar content, mostly carbohydrates in the form of fructose.
Choose Nagano grapes with dark purple, firm skin. Make sure the vine is bright green and not withered. High quality Nagano grapes have no gap between berries. They may be treated similarly to a Concord or Kyoho, making excellent juice, preserves and sweet wine. They are a soft grape that is prone to damage and must be handled with care. Be aware that their high sugar content makes them susceptible to fermentation. After harvest, they should be eaten quickly or placed in the refrigerator or freezer.
Grape leaf designs are traditional for Japanese decorations on accessories, bags, jewelry/storage boxes and home décor.
The arid soil of the Chikuma River bank in Nagano, Japan is suitable for growing extremely large Nagano grapes. It is Japan's number one growing region of this relatively new variety of seedless grape. Because Nagano grapes are so new and originate in the Nagano prefecture, farmers are not permitted to grown them outside of that region. The major production occurs in Suzaka-shi, Kamitakai-gun Obuse-machi and Takayama-mura.