Saturday, September 25, 2010

Taming the Concord Grape Vines

Our property came with overgrown grape vines. The vines had extended themselves beyond their trellis up into the nearby trees. I could see fruit hanging from the top branches, but there was no way to reach it. At the bottom a few clumps of grapes grew and ripened in the fall, enough so I could identify the variety as Concord Grapes.

Concord Grapes are a hearty variety that were developed from native New England grape species by Ephraim Wales Bull in 1849 at his farm in Concord, Massachusetts. This grape variety was perfected to thrive and grow in the cold climate of New England. This variety is used to make grape juice, grape jelly, and flavor candy and soft drinks.

I learned from the neighbors that the original owner of the home planted the grape vines, along with other fruit trees and bushes on the property. They are estimated to be 35-40 years old. The vines were neglected for at least 15 years before we purchased the property.

At first, I didn’t know how to care for the overgrown grape vines. They were mostly a tangled mass of unproductive shoots. Luckily, K knew what to do as he helped care for his family’s Concord grape vines growing up. Over a two-year period, he gave them an all over heavy pruning to get them back into shape. The long vines needed to be untangles and pulled from the trees limbs above.

Fruit is borne on the previous year's growth, so we had to patiently wait until this year to see the results. I was thrilled to be able to pick a small harvest of about 8 pounds of Concord grapes this year.

They were washed, crushed and cooked to extract the grape juice. Half was used to make grape jelly and the remainder was consumed as yummy grape juice.

The vines are still a work in progress and will take a few more years to tame. There are also several vines along the backside of the property that we haven't even touched yet. These too are in great need of taming. I am hoping to eventually harvest enough grapes to make wine.

1 comment:

  1. Oh gosh, that jelly looks really good...There are a few muscadine grape vines in my town that are seriously neglected too, and it makes me wanna show the owners how to take care of them properly. Your vines are really old! Mine are only about 7 years old....