Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has bred a new table grape variety which will go on sale in Western Australia later this month.

Millennium Muscat is a golden, seeded, early-maturing table grape with a distinctive aromatic muscat flavour, CSIRO said. Muscat grapes are highly regarded for their flavour and are ideal for the cheese platter.

According to CSIRO Plant Industry’s Peter Clingeleffer, the new variety has impressed both consumers and growers with its muscat flavour, translucent golden berries and excellent vineyard performance. Its ability to mature earlier than most other similar varieties also gives growers a distinct marketing advantage.

“The variety has been evaluated in trials in Western Australia and
Queensland since 2000 and in Victoria since 2003 and has produced good yields of top quality fruit,” Clingeleffer said. “In WA it is the Carnarvon region’s earliest ripening white variety, being harvested from mid-November to early December.”

The WA Department of Agriculture’s Ian Cameron said the variety’s good performance has led to high demand from growers in the region.

“Nearly 4000 vines were reworked to Millennium Muscat in 2004-05,” Cameron said. “A further 8000 vines have been ordered. The demand for vines is expected to increase even further after the first significant crop reaches markets this month through the licensed WA agent, Key Produce Pty Ltd.”

The new variety is the first to be released by the Table Grapes For The New Millennium project. It has been bred by CSIRO Plant Industry with the support of voluntary contributions from the table grape industry, with matching funds from Horticulture Australia Limited and with assistance from the Western Australian Department of Agriculture, the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and the Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry, Fisheries and Mines. Vines are only available to growers who have made voluntary contributions to the project since its inception in 1998.

A second new variety from this project, a black, early maturing seedless variety which was released to the industry in October 2005, is expected to be on sale in Australia in early 2007.