Tangy, juicy, sweet and sour all at the same time; wild grapes pack a lot of flavor into a tiny package.

canyonToday’s wild grapes were a delightful surprise found in quite the most unexpected place while trekking through the desert canyon.

Wild grapes are actually pretty tenacious, it seems, so long as a water source is present and can be found in a variety of environments. 


According to the Dept of Forestry, the grapes I found while hiking were likely vitis californica, which can be found in shady canyons on the west side of the ridge, near a water source. Check! A little delving into plant lore of the Sierra Nevada’s reveals that all parts of this particular wild grape are edible, with the grapes themselves being small, dark, and tart in flavor. Yep, that’s them.

The grape leaves and tendrils can also be eaten. I didn’t know this so I didn’t try them. I may have to go back and forage some. I wanted to be mindful that these grapes and their leaves are probably part of the natural wildlife's food source, so only tasted a few. 


From a health perspective, wild grapes are more nutrient dense than their conventional/hybrid counterpart. Their thick, dark skin is a good source for resveratrol, which decreases the incidence and risk of cardiovascular disease as well as balances cholesterol and reduces the formation of blood clots. Resveratrol also protects against cell damage and mental decline. The ellargic acid found in dark grapes also contributes to an increase in metabolic function revving up the body’s fat burning potential. This happens mostly by decreasing the body’s ability to produce new fat cells and delaying the growth of fat cells already present. Because wild grapes have a large seed, they have increased antioxidant potential, decreasing oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. Research suggests that the phytonutrients found in grape seeds provide excellent support for the pancreas, kidneys, and liver, helping repair damage to DNA caused by oxidative stress.