California wild grape has significant cultural and ecological value throughout its range in California and southern Oregon. This deciduous native grape can grow as a shrubby groundcover, or if it finds something to climb, it can become a 10-40′ vine, reaching high into the canopy of trees. It is most often found growing along rivers or smaller streams in riparian areas or near seeps, swales or springs. It inhabits riparian forest or woodland, but can also be found along streams in foothill woodland, chaparral or grassland communities as well, in the valley bottom, or in river canyons. Although California wild grape thrives in moist conditions it can tolerate summer drought conditions once established.
California wild grape grows vigorously and is easy to grow. It can be grown like any other grape cultivar, trained on a trellis, fence, or arbor, or allowed to grow up into an open grown tree. If untrained, it will grow as a groundcover. California wild grape’s tenacity also means that it can become aggressive in the garden setting and may require a lot of pruning to keep it under control. If it has a lot of space to grow, it will be happy.
Caliornia wild grape produces somewhat tart, but perfectly edible purple grapes that can be made into jams and jellies — or wine! The grapes are a traditional food for Native American tribes throughout its range, often dried into raisins for long-term storage. California wild grape is very important for the international wine industry. Due to its resistance to leaf and root attacking grape phylloxera aphids, nearly all commercial wine grapes grown anywhere in the world are grafted onto rootstocks of California wild grape cultivars.
The grapes are also an important food source for a wide variety animals, birds and insects, and is a staple food for species such as coyote, skunk, wood ducks, quail, mountain bluebirds, and more. Because of its importance as a food source for wildlife, and because it provides valuable cover, California wild grape is an important species for riparian restoration projects.
Although inconspicuous and often hidden beneath leaves, California wild grape has small green or yellow flowers that bloom in May to June and are pollinated by small native wasps and bees such as sweat bees. California wild grape is also a larval host plant for some species of native moths. The foliage puts on a showy display of orange and yellow leaves in the fall.
Vitis californica seed packets contain 1 teaspoon of seed.
Seed Germination Instructions
120 days cold-moist stratification. Sow outside in fall.