Thieves & Kings
Fox Grapes, or commonly Frost Grapes or Winter Grapes, are a wild fruit found in wet soils and secluded ravines, where its reddish vines are known to grow to great heights. It is believed to be a favorite of foxes and other small mammals. The more common name of frost grape comes from becoming more desirable and sweet once exposed to a frost. In addition to its use in wines, the leaves of the fox grape are rumored to have medicinal properties.
The fox grape has a relatively long lifespan and a moderate growth rate. Typically the vines can reach 90’-high. Despite the name “winter grape”, the plant does not do well in cold temperatures near and below freezing. The benefit of frost to the fruit, is that it further ripens the grapes between the months of Savor and Shorn. The berry itself is round and very tart/acidic. becoming sweet after a frost as the acid levels drop off as it decomposes. Along with the further ripening of the fruit, the leaves of the vines eventually fall off as the plant goes dormant. Grapes remaining on the vines after Shorn, tend to shrivel and turn into sweet raisins, making them a popular browsing food for forest animals.
Flowers appear on the vine from Larane to Kythorn, and are arranged in compound clusters of five yellow petals. The leaves are arranged alternately with the fruits and flowers. Unlike other wild grapes there are no tufts of hair present on the leaves. Tendrils appear every third leaf oppositely are reddish in color and used for growth and to climb along surfaces. The grapes are the size of a coin when ripe, and eventually darken to a deep purple. Domesticated plants tend to be bred to have few seeds.
While the harvest of these plants has been around for centuries, their formal cultivation has never been attempted; they do not grow well in areas other than where they are found in the wild. Some households harvest them from the secluded spots where they grow, sometimes for brewing late wine, but often simply to make a supplemental crop of dried fruit for their winter larders.
The fox grape is never seen on the open market, and is often unknown by all save a handful of isolated Ninn families that hide the location of their vines in secret. Yields vary wildly, mostly because of differences in soil, growing conditions, and plant age, but individual fox grape vines could yield 20-30 sp of fruit per plant.