Grape Vine

Grape vine is easily one of the most identifiable plants in the world, adding to human health and happiness since the dawn of hunter-gatherer societies.

Quick Facts
General Information
  • Common name(s)Grapes, common grape vine
  • Scientific nameVitis vinifera
  • Plant typeVine
  • Native regionNorth Africa/Middle East, Southern Europe
  • Main producer(s)China
  • Main Economic UseFood industry
Grape Vine

Grape vine has been synonymous with healthy Mediterranean living since the dawn of civilization in that fertile region, and its fruit is, arguably, one of the most identifiable in the world. As both a food and beverage, it has provided incredible nutrition, social glue, and medicinal benefits for even longer, and its modern popularity shows no signs of slowing down. Foragers and early farmers have harvested the fruit of wild vines since Neolithic times, and records of wine storage date back as far as 7,000 years ago to Sumerian civilizations, now in present-day Iran.


Grape Vine Medicinal Properties

Quick Facts (Medicinal Properties)
  • Medicinal actionAnti-inflammatory, Cardioprotective
  • Key constituentsAnthocyanins, resveratrol
  • Ways to useLiquid extracts, Food, Juiced
  • Medicinal rating(3) Reasonably useful plant
  • Safety rankingSafe

Health Benefits of Grape

Grape vine is one of the most used and well-researched medicinal herbs. Thousands of studies have been done on its active compounds, and the various parts of the plant have been traditionally used for:

  • Promoting cardiovascular health. Eating the fruit can improve circulation and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • Delaying aging processes. This is due to the fruits' resveratol, which is a strong antioxidant.

Additionally, grape leaves have been traditionally used for:

  • Disinfecting skin wounds. The leaves of the grape vine have anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Treating diarrhea and digestive infections. The grape leaves work as an astringent and can help stop diarrhea.

Traditional herbal medicine has also makes good use of the plant, with European folk traditions employing grape vine sap to cure skin and eye diseases. Its leaves have found use in stopping bleeding, pain, and hemorrhoid inflammation.

How It Works

Grapes contain several antioxidants, fibrous pectin, and tannins that bind proteins together, and have strong immunoprotective actions.

Resveratrol is a natural compound, found in high amounts in the skin of deep-purple grapes, and it has a protective effect on brain functions, heart health, and the immune system. Due to its proven anti-aging affects, resveratrol is a popular ingredient in skin care products. Anthocyanins, on the other hand, are tannins that not only give purple grapes their dark hue, but also protect the body from the damage of free radicals, helping reduce inflammation and preventing degenerative diseases.

Studies have shown that the juice of dark colored grapes can improve memory and cognitive functions in older adults.

Cardioprotective properties are also present in olive and sacha inchi, whereas blueberry and cabbage can provide similar antioxidative benefits.

Grape Cautions

Allergies and other health conditions should be considered before establishing a supplemental regimen.

Grape Vine Nutrition

Beyond the rich antioxidant content in the skin of purple and red grapes, all varieties provide good amounts of vitamin K  (phylloquinone), which improves coagulation and supports bones health, as well as adequate amounts of B-complex vitamins, mainly B1 (thiamin), and B6 (pyridoxine).

The nutritional value of grape berries is rounded by small amounts of minerals, such as copper, potassium, and iron, along with vitamins C (ascorbic acid), B2 (rivoflavin) and B3 (niacin).

It is worth to mention that grapes are high in sugar content (about 16 g per cup); however, these are natural sugars that, contrary to popular belief,  do not raise blood glucose levels and can even reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes; nevertheless, grapes are better consumed as whole fruits and in moderated amounts.

100 grams of grapes provide 67 calories and about 81 grams of water, as well as 6% and 4% of the daily value for carbohydrates and dietary fiber, respectively.

How to Consume Grape Vine

Quick Facts (How to Consume)
  • Edible partsFruit
  • Edible usesFlavoring, Coloring, Sweetener
  • TasteSweet

Though boasting other uses, grape is overwhelmingly utilized as food and beverage, eaten raw and dried for centuries before the appearance of processing technology. Grape fruits are still preferred to eat fresh off the vine, or dried, as raisins. However, there are also medicinal ways to reap its benefits.

In many traditional recipes of Mediterranean and MiddleEastern cuisine grape vine leaves are commonly steamed and used for appetizers or main dishes.

Natural Forms

  • Raw. Fresh grape fruits are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Many choose grape as a key fruit to add to a healthy diet.

  • Dried. Better known as raisins, the dried grape fruits are one of the oldest and most popular snacks around the world.

  • Juiced. As other watery fruits, grapes are perfect to be juiced and made into refreshing beverages. Drinking fresh grape juice is a great way to reap the benefits of the fruit.

  • Powder. The husks of red grapes, rich in anthocyanins and resveratrol, are dried and powdered to concentrate their antioxidant properties, and can be added to smoothies and juices.

Herbal Remedies & Supplements

  • Did you know?

    50 mg of resveratrol are equivalent to 4.5 liters of red wine.

    Capsules. The resveratrol contained in grape seeds is widely available as easy to swallow capsules and tablets, for a daily antioxidant dose.

  • Liquid extract. The liquid extract from grape seeds helps relieve inflammation as well as reduce cholesterol levels.

  • Oil. Obtained by cold pressing method, grapeseed oil is growing increasingly in demand, as information spreads about its health benefits.

Grapeseed oil is becoming a popular option for salad dressings.

Buying

Quick Facts (Buying)
  • Where to buySupermarkets, Farmers' markets, Specialized health stores, Online herb stores

Fresh grapes and grape products can be found year-round almost everywhere that fruit is sold. Vines are a less common sight outside of temperate zones, but herbal supplements offer a condensed version of the seeds for optimum convenience.

Natural Forms

Thanks to modern global food transportation, raw grapes can be found year-round in most grocery stores and supermarkets, though fresh varieties are more common in late autumn and winter months, as some varieties are best picked directly before the first frost. Simply processed and organic grape juices can be found in many health food stores.

Herbal Remedies & Supplements

As they rise in popularity, grape supplements are available in specialized health stores, wholesale retailers, and online outlets. The latter generally provides the easiest way to find the exact quantities and concentrations desired. They most frequently come in extract form, though capsules also exist.

Growing

Quick Facts (Growing)
  • Life cyclePerennial
  • Harvested partsLeaves, Fruit
  • Light requirementsFull sun
  • SoilLoamy sand
  • Soil pH6.1 – 6.5 (Slightly acidic), 6.6 – 7.3 (Neutral), 7.4 – 7.8 (Slightly alkaline)
  • Growing habitatTemperate climates
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zones3a (From −40 °C (−40 °F) to −37.2 °C (−35 °F)), 3b (From −37.2 °C (−35 °F) to −34.4 °C (−30 °F))
  • Plant spacing average3 m (9.84 ft)
  • Propagation techniquesCuttings
  • Potential insect pestsPhylloxera
  • Potential diseasesMildew

Temperate climates with marked seasons are essential to successful grape vine cultivation, with warm summers and dry, cold winters.

Growing Guidelines

  • Though soil quality is less important, sandy soils are preferred to maximize yields.

  • Grapes need to be exposed to cold temperatures in order to stimulate a dormancy period without which blooming will not occur.

  • Some varieties may be grown in warmer regions if irrigation is cut off after each harvest in order to "stress" the plant and cause it to go dormant without cold exposure.

  • Grape vine requires rainfall of at least 20 inches (500 mm) per year and relative protection from the wind.

Additional Information

Quick Facts (Additional Information)
  • Other usesAlcohol

Plant Biology

Also known as 'common grape', the grape plant is a perennial, woody climbing vine that can grow up to 115 feet (35 m) long in the wild, but when cultivated it is usually reduced by annual pruning to 3-10 feet (1-3 m). Its leaves are thin, circular to oval shaped and two to nine inches (5-23 cm) broad. If forms dense clusters of inconspicuous, white greenish to red flowers. The berries of this vine, widely known as grapes, grow in large clusters and are round shaped. Depending on the variety, their color can be green, yellow, red, or purplish-black.       

  • Classification

    The grape vine (Vitis vinifera) belongs to the Vitidaceae family, which encompasses about 17 genera and 1000 species, most of them tropical or subtropical climbing plants.

    The Vitis genus contains over 60 species distributed across the world, but particularly in America and Asia, and it is the only one in the Vitidaceae family that produces edible berries.

  • Varieties and Cultivars of Grape Vine

    The Vitis genus ncludes several cultivated grapes of economical importance, such as Vitis vinifera spp. vinifera (the European wine grape) and Vitis labruscana or fox grape (native to the eastern United States).

    Over 572 varieties and 2,275 cultivars of grape vine have been officially registered in 2017 only in North America. However, the dominant variety of table (fresh) grape in the U.S. since the 19th century has been the 'Thompson Seedless', which is also used for raisin production. Other popular grapes are 'Red Globe' and 'Emperor'.

Historical Information

Historians place first grape vine cultivation and distribution between 3500 - 3000 BCE in southern central Europe. The practice soon found its way to ancient Greece, where the plant's fruit was frequently fermented into wine for religious as well as social occasions. From there, winemaking became popular with Etruscan and later Roman societies. Middle Eastern cultures also favored the grape until the 7th century CE, when Islam became the religious majority, though wine plays a key role in Christian theology. European colonization spread its growth even further, and today, it contributes to every major agricultural economy.

Economic Data

Grape vine has been a fundamental economic crop for thousands of years, and it continues to fuel industry across the globe. Over 69 million tons of grapes were harvested worldwide in 2011, with wine production alone generating an estimated value of $33 billion USD. France, Italy, and Spain lead the European market, and the United States follows closely behind, also benefiting from the commercially popular fruit juice industry. Curiously, however, China produces the largest quantity of grapes per year at 9 million tons, despite a weaker cultural link to the fruit.

GRAPE VINE HAS PROVEN SO IMPORTANT IN AGRICULTURE THAT THE IMAGE OF THE PLANT APPEARS ON THE BACK OF SOME CROATIAN COINS.

Other Uses

  • Mouthwash. Grape vine has been endorsed as a mouthwash and teeth whitener since the 17th century.

  • Beverage cooling. Fresh grapes are sometimes also frozen as substitutes for ice cubes, chilling wine without danger of dilution.

Bibliography

Grape Vine Benefits