History of Concord 

redwine-icon  Variety Info --  The Concord grape was developed in 1849 by Ephraim Wales Bull in Conord, Massachusetts. Bull planted seeds from wild Vitis labrusca and evaluated over 20,000 seedlings before finding what he considered the perfect grape, the original vine of which still grows at his former home. The pollen parent is unknown, but although 'Concord' is frequently considered to be basically a Vitis labrusca cultivar, some have argued that the hermaphrodite flowers suggest at least a small amount of Vitis vinifera in its pedigree.

This trait has not been proven to exist in any native American grapes. However, Concord is definitely much more labrusca-like in its characteristics than vinifera-like. Many consider the likely male parent to have been Catawba, itself probably half Vitis labrusca, which Bull had growing nearby. Therefore it is more properly termed "Vitis x labruscana" rather than "Vitis labrusca".

In 1853, Bull's grape won first place at the Boston Horticultural Society Exhibition. It was then introduced to the market in 1854. Dr. Thomas Bramwell Welch developed the first 'Concord' grape juice in 1869. Through the process of pasteurization, the juice did not ferment. Welch originally introduced the grape juice to his church, to be used for communion.

Concord grapes are often used to make grape jelly and are occasionally available as table grapes, especially in New England and also in Texas. They are the usual grapes used in the jelly for the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and 'Concord' jelly is universally sold in U.S. supermarkets. 'Concord' grapes are used for grape juice, and their distinctive purple color has led to grape flavored soft drinks and candy being artificially colored purple.

Recently, white grape juice with a milder flavor and less ability to stain fabric, primarily from 'Niagara' grapes, has risen in popularity at the expense of 'Concord' juice. The dark colored 'Concord' juice is used in some churches as a non-alcoholic alternative to wine in the service of communion.

In the United States, more than 400,000 tons of Concord grapes are harvested in the northern regions and Pacific Northwest. Washington produces the most, followed by New York. This is about 8% of the total U.S. grape harvest. However, the enforced preference for bland seedless grapes has all but banished the concord grape from grocery produce racks.

The Concord grape is particularly prone to the physiological disorder Black leaf.

Purple grape juice contains the most antioxidants, which are believed to help reduce premature aging and minimize heart disease and other chronically disabling diseases.

More from the Concord Grape Association website...



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