Thursday, August 28, 2014
New Life For Old Living
Growing up in North Carolina late summer was always one of my favorite times of the year. I looked forward to going back to school and seeing many friends I had not seen all summer, and it was time for our native Muscadine grapes to ripen. We didn't have cultivated grape vines at my families nursery, the native Muscadine vines grew all around the edges of the woods climbing up trees and neighboring old buildings. Not only did I look forward in picking and eating them fresh, I was always trying to convince my Mother or Grandmother to make Muscadine jelly from my pickings.
Vitis rotundafolia the Muscadine grape is native throughout the Southeast to Texas. The oldest cultivated variety of Muscadine grape is the "Scuppernong". Scuppernong is a yellow bronze sometime called white type of Muscadine grape. The Scuppernong was first mentioned as a white grape in a written log book by the Florentine explorer Giovanni de Vezazzano while exploring the Cape Fear River in 1524. The Scuppernong grape actually got it's name from the Scuppernong river which runs from Washinton county to the Albemarle sound. The name Scuppernong actually comes from the Algonguin Indian word "Acsepo" meaning Sweet Bay Tree.
Stories tell us that the Scuppernong grape was first cultivated in Tyrell county NC before 1760. Other stories tell of a "Mother" vine on Roanoke Island that was over 400 years old. The North Carolina general assembly designated the Scuppernong grape the official state fruit in 2001.
Here in northern Iredell county if you look you can find the purple or black Muscadine grape growing wild in close proximity to the bronze or gold Scuppernong type.
North Carolina has been hit hard not only by the recent recession but earlier in loss of tobacco, textile and furniture jobs leaving for overseas. The one thing that has came to the rescue is vineyards and wineries. There are now more than 100 wineries and 400 vineyards across the state. There are 36 wineries and vineyards in the Yadkin Valley region alone .This has brought badly needed tourism and jobs to this area. And while some of the grapes grown at these wineries and vineyards are not our native grapes, much of the credit goes to our native Muscadine and Scuppernong grapes. They have brought new life for old living across North Carolina and the historic Yadkin Valley.