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There are a lot of reasons to celebrate Concord Month this July. Concord is a sweet red wine that pairs perfectly with all your summer favorites… barbecue, ice cream, and it even makes a great popsicle! Concord is the quintessential grape flavor and we have Welch’s to thank for its prominence in Missouri.
Prior to prohibition the Missouri wine industry was booming, but vineyards were pulled up by the rootstock and barrels of wine dumped in the street during the “noble experiment”. St. James, Missouri managed to retain its vineyards by producing grape juice, table grapes and jams with their acres of Concord grapes. Many growers were contracted by the Welch Grape Co. which had the government contract to provide jams and jellies for the troops during World War II. This kept the grape industry alive in the St. James area where you can still find a few acres of pre-Prohibition vines.
Now Concord vines cover 120 acres in the Show Me State and account for 7 percent of all the grapes grown in the state. Concord, also known as American Vitis labruscana, is a native American grape that grows well in the demanding weather conditions of Missouri. It’s a favorite with winemakers for its heartiness and with consumers for its candy-like sweetness and luscious fruit flavors.
Served chilled, a sip of sweet Concord on a warm July day is about as refreshing as it gets. Head out to Missouri wine country to celebrate Concord Month this July! And if you’re headed down I-44 near St. James this October, keep an eye out for roadside stands selling local, Concord grapes, a longstanding tradition and a real treat!