In the mid 1950s, Ward Kipps set out four grape vines and a fruit tree or so for family use. Well, the soil was great, his thumb was green, and things just took off! More vines and trees were propagated and acquired over the years. At one time, when he was participating in a grape development program run by Virginia Tech, he had more than 150 different varieties of grapes!

While Ward and his wife, Beth, hadn't planned to sell fruit (he repaired and sold radios and TVs), things evolved that way when the hobby outgrew the needs of the family. They started the PYO business to handle the excess. Today, their sons, daughter, and grandchildren continue the business. Like Ward, they had established other careers before getting into fruit. Maybe you’d like to make guesses as to who works with livestock, computers, plants, learning, or cell cultures.
Ward had a great memory, and knew nearly every vine and tree by heart. We have done a lot of guesswork, but some plantings remain unidentified. We welcome you to taste a grape or two from several vines before choosing which you wish to pick. Enjoy the scenery while you make your selection.

Most vines are Concords and similar-tasting varieties. Fredonias ripen about two weeks before the Concords. Another early grape is the Moored - developed here in Virginia by the folks at Virginia Tech. It is a red slip skin and very sweet. We have a small section containing French hybrids.

Not Your Average Fruit Farm

Kipps Grapes is unique and quirky. Since Ward hadn't intended to set up a fruit farm, our grapes and fruit trees are planted according to where they:
* looked pretty *
* happened to land *
* were easy to set out *
* sprouted from trimmings *
So don't be looking for perfectly straight rows of evenly spaced plantings! 

Look for our trees that bear two or more varieties on the same tree. Ward loved to graft. One of his sons and a granddaughter also have tried their hands at the task.

Ward made use of things at hand when building his trellis system: antenna masts with rotors, lead-in wire, an automobile transmission, etc. All those items are still in use. He recycled and repurposed items long before the  "being green" term was coined. Whether it's being green, thrifty, crazy, or resourceful, Generation II is continuing the tradition.  

Recently added for our new vines, are some training guides made out of more repurposed items. Look around to see bamboo stakes from the plants that were cleared from the pond bank, yellow newspaper bags used to mark where little rootings have been planted or to protect the tender young plants from deer, and fabric strips used as supports or ties for vines.

We can only hope some of Generation III will come up with their own innovations. Wouldn't it be great if one of them found something on the farm they could recycle into an all-purpose pesky pest catcher?