Grapes are VINE TALK’s favorite fruit because of all the wonderful wines produced from their juice. We thought it would be fun to find out a little more about this fabulous fruit, so we did a little research and came up with these interesting facts we thought you might enjoy…
•Grapes are berries. A cluster can contain up to 300 grapes. By weight, a grape is typically 75% pulp, 20% skin, and 5% seeds.
•Grapes were being cultivated by humans more than 6,000 years ago, and there is evidence of wine production dating back 6,000 years. After the decline of the Roman Empire, the Church kept the practice of grape growing and winemaking alive in Europe through Medieval times.
•30,000 square miles are dedicated to grape production worldwide, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Approximately 71% of world grapes produced are used for wine, 27% are used as fresh fruit and 2% are used as dried fruit.
•According to The International Organization for Wine and Vine (OIV), over 140 billion pounds of grapes were grown worldwide in 2010.
•Grapes are well suited to winemaking because of the ratio of sugar to water, and because yeast, which converts grape sugar to alcohol during the fermentation process, naturally occurs on grape skins.
•According to experts, Vitis vinifera, the classic winemaking grape species, developed in what is now Iran around 2000 B.C. The vine traveled to other parts of the world as people migrated because it was an easily transportable crop. According to the FAO, in most countries, the grapes grown today are varieties of Vitis vinifera. 99% of the wine made from grapes is from this species.
•Vitis vinifera did not exist in North America until it was imported from Europe. The principal grape species native to North America are Vitis Labrusca (includes the Concord grape), Vitis Raparia, Vitis Aestivalis and Vitis Rotundifoila (includes Muscadine grapes). All of these native species grow wild east of the Rocky Mountains.
•The Concord grape is the dominant American cold climate grape. It is used to make jelly, juice, grape-flavored drinks, candy and some Kosher wines. It was developed by Ephraim Wales Bull who was determined to breed a grape hardy enough to thrive in New England. In 1849, after six years of work and 22,000 seedlings, he was successful. The original parent vine of all the Concord grapes in the world still resides in the garden of Bull’s Concord, MA farmhouse.
•In 1869, Thomas Welch decided to pasteurize the juice of the Concord grape to produce a non-alcoholic beverage for sacramental use, creating the first “preserved” grape juice known. He called it “Dr. Welch’s Unfermented Wine” and sold it in burgundy-style bottles. His son Charles, who later took over leadership of the business, renamed the product “Dr. Welch’s Grape Juice.”