What Are Witch Finger Grapes? Where And When To Find Them

Witches Finger Grapes

When most people think of grapes, they picture the sugary-sweet balls of fruit commonly found in the supermarket. However, grapes come in a much larger variety of colors, shapes, and sizes then you might expect.

One of the more interesting varieties is called Witch Finger. Witch Finger grapes are large in size, with an elongated shape that resembles a chili pepper. They grow in compacted clusters, delivering a large number of juicy grapes in each bunch.

The unique appearance and delicious flavor of Witch Finger grapes has made them a popular fruit, particularly in California, where they are grown commercially. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at this remarkable grape variety, sharing its history and how you can grow it yourself. 

What Are Witch Finger Grapes?

Witch Finger grapes are a hybridized grape cultivar created by The Grapery® in partnership with International Fruit Genetics. They were developed to be a table grape, which means they are meant to be enjoyed fresh.

Witch Finger grapes grow in tightly compacted clusters, which can become quite heavy due to the size of the grape. The grapes themselves are shaped like chili peppers, with a light red or maroon color and tinges of green. 

Each grape has a thin skin, which covers a juicy, sweet flesh. The crisp texture of the outer skin makes the grape feel like it “pops” in the mouth. The seedless flesh is translucent and light colored compared to the skin of the grape.

Witches Finger Grapes on the vine

Witch Finger grapes are quite sweet, which makes them a popular grape with adults and children alike. They are also low in tannins and acidity, making them even more palatable. In addition to being delicious, Witch Finger Grapes are high in flavonoids, antioxidants and the vitamins A, C, and K.

Are Witch Finger Grapes GMO?

No, Witch Finger Grapes are not genetically modified. They were developed by hand pollinating, which is the process of taking pollen from one plant and brushing it onto another. This method of developing new and improved grape varieties has been used by farmers for thousands of years. It doesn’t require any chemicals or other additives.

Related: Growing Champagne Grapes

Where Do Witch Finger Grapes Come From?

The history of Witch Finger grapes stretches back to 2002. That was when The Grapery® partnered with International Fruit Genetics to create a grape breeding program. The program focused on grape hybridization using hand pollination and selective breeding. 

After many years of experimentation, The Grapery® developed a chili pepper shaped grape, with a unique appearance and delicious flavor. This new hybridized grape variety was based on a University of Arkansas cultivar and a Mediterranean grape. 

A large quantity of witch finger grapes.
witch finger grapes

Initially, they were called Chili Pepper grapes, because of their tapered, chili-like appearance. Unfortunately, this name confused many consumers, who believed the grape might have a spicy flavor.

The Grapery® rebranded the grape Witch Finger Grapes in 2011. This name was chosen due to the finger-like shape of the grapes.

Initially, Witch Finger grapes were grown exclusively in the San Joaquin Valley by the Grapery® and sold to commercial markets nationwide. However, seeds have since become available, allowing keen gardeners to give this interesting grape variety a try in their own garden.

In 2016, Witch Finger grapes were rebranded again and are now called Tear Drops® grapes. The company changed the name once more because they believed some consumers were avoiding the product when it was named after a body part.

Caring For Witch Finger Grapes?
A picture of witch finger grapes growing.

The Witch Finger Grape plant is a fairly robust plant that grows well in most locations. If you are familiar with growing grapes, you should have no problem growing Witch Finger Grapes in your garden.

Here are a few tips for achieving a bountiful crop:

Slightly acidic soil

Witch Finger grape vines enjoy a soil pH of between 5.0 and 6.0. Do your best to reach this pH level before planting and throughout the growing period.

Plenty of sunlight

Like other grape varieties, Witch Finger grape vines enjoy plenty of sun. Set your plants out in a space which gets the sun for most of the day.

Good air circulation

Grape plants can suffer from a variety of leaf diseases including problems caused by mildew. Having good air circulation around your plants will help you avoid these issues. Ideally, space the plants with 4 to 8 feet between each plant and each row. 

Watering 

Young plants will need a steady supply of water, particularly when the weather is hot and dry. When they are established, they will more rugged and capable of going longer periods without water.

Fertilizing 

If you want to grow organic Witch Finger Grapes apply nutrient-rich organic compost several times during the growing cycle. In terms of bagged fertilizer, use about 10 ounces of 10-10-10 around each plant a week after planting. For your second year of growth, you can increase the amount of fertilizer to 20 ounces. Use a high-quality fertilizer and apply it to the soil 1 foot away from the base of the plant.

Pruning 

Correctly pruning grapevines can take some practice. If you haven’t done it before, watch some videos online or read a book on the subject.

Witch Finger Grapes benefit from a prune towards the end of winter or early spring. Prune when there is no longer frost around, but there isn’t new growth on the vine yet. Your goal will be to remove enough material to allow enough airflow and sunshine to reach more of the plant.

Gentle handling 

Getting your first crop of Witch Finger Grapes can be very exciting, as you will be eager to taste your fruit and share it with friends and family. However, care must be taken when handling the fruit as grapes will fall off easily, which reduces the length of time that those grapes will remain fresh.

What Do Witch Finger Grapes Taste Like?

Witch Finger Grapes are sweet fruit with a crispy skin. There is a very pleasant “snap” when you chomp down on the grape, which makes them enjoyable to pop in your mouth.

In terms of taste, the translucent flesh has a hint of plum to it. It is similar to a red grape, with the flavor dialed up slightly.

The long shape of finger grapes makes them useful for a wide range of culinary applications. Here are a few interesting ways to eat them (courtesy of Speciality Produce):

  • Cut the grapes in half and fill with a salty cheese. The sweet and salty combination will be delicious.
  • Roast your grapes with some cracked salt and lemon
  • Blister the grapes in a pan and serve with sautéed bitter greens (the bitter plus sweet combination is brilliant) 

Witch Finger grapes are delicious when served with nuts, pork, poultry, fennel seed, mint, yogurt, blue cheese, goat cheese, and many other foods. Virtually any salty, bitter, or sour food will pair well with the rich sweetness of the grape.

When Are Witch Finger Grapes Available? Ready For Halloween?

In the United States, Witch Finger Grapes are harvested in Summer (June 1 to August 31).

However, as the popularity of this grape variety increases, there will be more crops produced in other climate zones and then imported into the United States. This will make the grapes available for most of the year.

Where Can You Buy Witch Finger Grapes?

If you want to see what Witch Finger Grapes taste like, visit The Grapery® website to learn which retailers stock them. Seeds are not easy to find, but there are a few sources online.

Do Witch Finger Grapes Have Seeds?

No, Witch Finger Grapes do not have seeds.

Related: How to Grow Capers