A History of the Concord Grape
How the 200-year-old vine at the Concord Cottage got its name, and why it mattered that we save it.
Did you know that the Concord grape, which produces the grape juice and jelly so many of us grew up on, gets its name from Concord, Massachusetts, home of the current TV show project? In fact, a 100-year-old grapevine is growing a few yards from the 19th-century cottage that the TOH crew is renovating. The vine owes its ubiquity to Ephraim Wales Bull, who in 1849 planted upward of 20,000 different seedlings (all native to the rugged New England soil) at his Concord farm, before discovering the perfect, cold-hardy grape. Though Bull's über-fruit gained international fame, he died in near-poverty. His tombstone reads: "He sowed — others reaped."
They're still reaping. Each year, more than 400,000 tons of Concord grapes are harvested for the production of jellies and juice. One afternoon this last autumn, a few jars of Concord grape jelly were made right at the project house. The reviews were decidedly sweet. Said one lucky taster: "All I could think was, get me the peanut butter! And I don't even like jelly!"