Japanese grapes are some of the most expensive grapes in the world. In 2020, one bunch sold for $12,000.

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One bunch of Ruby Roman grapes sold for $12,000 at auction in 2020 – about $400 per grape.
Each grape must weigh at least 20 grams and have at least 18% sugar content.
In 2020, only about 25,000 bunches of grapes qualified as Ruby Roman.
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Following is a transcription of the video:

Narrator: The first thing you notice about Japanese Ruby Roman grapes is their size. Just one is about four times the size of an average grape. But inspectors look even closer. If the color of these grapes matches categories three or four on this color card, then just one bunch could sell for $90 to $450. But size and color are just two of the characteristics that define these luxury grapes. So what else do inspectors look for? And why are these grapes so expensive?

Narrator: In Japanese culture, fruits are considered a luxury and gift item. In fact, Japanese supermarkets often won’t sell fruits if they have any blemishes or aren’t the right shape. Inspectors like Kazuyoshi Sakurai use very specific criteria to scrutinize each grain, or individual grape, that grows in Kahoku city.

Narrator: Superior-grade grapes make up almost 90% of the harvest, and Special Superior grapes make up about 10%. Superior bunches can cost between $90 and $140. Special Superior grapes are priced at $180 to as high as $450. But there’s still one category higher than these two.

Narrator: Only one or two bunches a year qualify as Premium in Kahoku. Farmers hope to sell one bunch of Premium grapes for over $1,000. Two bunches made the cut this year, but in 2019 and 2020, no grapes qualified for the Premium category. No matter the grade, though, all Ruby Roman grapes have a uniquely sweet flavor, according to Isu.

Narrator: Harvesting starts in July, just in time for one of two main Japanese gift-giving holidays, Ochugen. The grapes are only grown in Ishikawa Prefecture, and they’re cultivated in greenhouses, where farmers have better control over the growing process. Each grape is monitored and manicured, so that every one in a bunch looks totally identical. To produce grapes of the proper size, they use a grape-thinning device and a simple pair of scissors.

Narrator: The second factor they control is light.

Narrator: One way to control light is by adding or removing leaves near the vines. To confirm that enough light is getting into the greenhouse, farmers use a different tool.

Narrator: Using a program they developed with a private IT company, farmers can then identify how much light they need to add or subtract.

Narrator: The final complicated element for Ruby Roman grape farmers is temperature.

Narrator: They open the sides and ceilings of the greenhouse to keep it as cool and ventilated as possible. And still, not all the Ruby Roman grapes farmers grow will be up to standard. Which is why supply is consistently limited. In 2020, only 25,000 Ruby Roman bunches were up for sale. That’s a tiny fraction of Japan’s yearly grape production, which was about 163,000 tons in 2020. It wasn’t until 2008 that the first Ruby Roman grapes went up for sale. The effort to create them started in 1995 when local grape farmers and Ishikawa’s Agricultural Research Center came together to develop a new breed of large red grape.

Narrator: What they ended up with is the most expensive grape in the world. So expensive that in 2020, one bunch of these grapes sold at auction for $12,000. That’s about $400 per grape.

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