CONCORD, Mass., -- In spite of multiple curve balls pitched by Mother Nature this year - summertime temperatures in March, freezing temperatures in April, and drought conditions in June through August - the Concord grape harvest of 2012 is yielding fruit that is as tasty as ever, even though there are fewer of them.
Although every growing season is slightly different and provides unique challenges, this year was particularly trying.
Due to the extreme weather fluctuation in North America, this harvest generated the smallest crop since 1977.
"We battled the weather again this year and by working day and night we were able to harvest some exceptional fruit that met Welch's strict quality standards," said one of Welch's family-farmer-owners, Jamie Militello.
Grape growing has been in my family for generations and that experience helped me to identify when my grapes were at their peak of freshness and flavor, pick them quickly, and deliver them to Welch's within eight hours to be pressed into juice."
A shorter harvest, as a result of a damaged crop, demands that farmers inspect, and test grapes regularly and work around the clock to collect their fruit at just the right time.
"One thing I have learned by working with Welch's over the past few years is that no two crops are ever the same because the weather and growing conditions from year to year are never exactly the same," commented food historian and scientist Alton Brown.
Concord grapes are mainly grown in upstate New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Washington, and in select locations within Canada.
"The Concord grape is native to North America, named for its birthplace of Concord, Massachusetts," shared Brown. "Just like wine, the taste of Concord grape juice is a result of where and how the fruit is grown. Vineyards positioned in very specific microclimates, such as near large bodies of water, produce the best-tasting Concord grapes. ..."