|Red-faced muscovies guarding grapes|
Grapes had never hit it big in Taiwan in the past. For years, private wine-making including that with grapes, was against the monopoly law which carried severe penalties. Native grapes were also tiny and sour, unfit for table use. No grapes, no problems, other fruits abounded anyway. These have all changed in the 1960s. Since then, we have 巨峰 (Kyoho or ChuFeng), 義大利 (ltalia), 金香 (Golden Muscat), and 蜜紅 (Honey Red) varieties, among them, the huge, juicy and sweet Kyoho is arguably the most abundant and the best-tasting table grapes all around.
Kyoho was first developed in Japan in 1935, a cross between the native Ishihara-wase and the Centennial from Australia. The exact date of its introduction into Taiwan is unclear; although 2 of the first 6 seedlings planted in 1964 in Changhua 大村Da-chun by Mr 賴炳芳 have survived to this day, and in fact are still going strong.
|巨峰葡萄 - Kyoho grapes (with the protective paper bags removed for photography)|
Curiously, China, known for hundreds of different types of grapes available from Xinjiang (grown in 吐鲁番Turpan area on the Silk Road), also started growing Japanese Kyoho in 1959. It remains somewhat murky as to how the cultivars were procured. We do know that starting in 1996 or a bit later, Taiwanese merchants brought the Taiwanese strain to Hainan and the transplant proved a huge success. Their Kyoho is now in direct market competition with Taiwan.
Honey Red was introduced in mid-1980s from Japan by Prof 楊耀祥 of National Chung Hsin University. Its taste and texture both have received favorable reviews. Planting is, however, limited to around 70 hectares. It is still awaiting further improvement in the rupture, storage and shipping departments. This is a work in progress; although it will soon become the next Kyoho, most certainly worthy of a try even now:
|蜜紅 (Honey Red) grapes shielded from the sun|