Alabama's sand-clay soils and hot and humid environment are perfect for the state's signature grape variety -- the native Muscadine. Although this is not a land of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the state's growers continue to look for ways to increase the number of varietals grown in Alabama. The fledgling industry includes less than a dozen wineries although they are creating award-winning products!
Arkansas is the oldest and largest grape juice producing state in the Southern United States. Grapes were first grown commercially by a colony of German-Swiss immigrants who settled at Altus, Franklin County, in the 1870s. These early settlers soon recognized that this region in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains had great potential for grape production. (University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture)
When you picture California, you picture grapes! Names like Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, and Mendocino come to mind. There are actually more than 75 American Viticultural Areas within the state!
A century before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, Spanish explorers discovered lush native grapevines amoung the rich vegetation on Florida's east coast. Following the lead of the French, Spanish settlers harvested the wild muscadine grapes. Through the centuries, Florida's rich soils have supported numerous vineyards. Now you will find them scattered through the state, with harvest times ranging from May to September. (Florida-Agriculture.com)
There is evidence that the Cherokee and Creek Indians enjoyed the juice of the Native American vines we know today as Muscadines. Two centuries after the first Spanish explorers inhabited Georgian soil, James Edward Oglethorpe, Georgia's founder, tried to introduce European varities as a part of his economic plan. Unfortunately, mysterious New World diseases and indigenous insects thwarted his intentions. Over time new scientific techniques allowed Georgia to begin producing its share of grapes. Native Muscadine grapes, however, have continued to play an important role in Georgia's viticulture. (GeorgiaWineCountry.com)
Iowa, known more for corn and soybeans, has a rich history of grape production. During the late 1800s and early 1900s it was among the nation's top 12 producers. Then came Prohibition, the blizzard of 1941, and herbicides. The heartache of those years has been replaced with a resurgence in vineyard establishment -- not only for wine, but for gourmet grape juices!
Boston's Beacon Hill is touted as the site for one of America's first orchards. When Europeans arrived in the New World, they found only native crab apples. Unimpressed, they ordered apple seeds from England and began to plant one of their favorite fruits. By the 1640s, orchards were well established in Massachusetts. Today the state ranks 16th in overall production volume.
Michigan's grape industry spans two centuries. By 1880 Lake Erie vineyards had extended into southeast Michigan. During Prohibition the fledgling industry received help from an unlikely source, Dr. Thomas Welch. (See "In The Beginning.") The Welch's Grape Juice Company encouraged planting of Concord grapes from which their product was made. The largest of these plantings were in Southwest Michigan and Western New York. (MichiganWines.com)
As early settlers left the East Coast, they brought their apple seeds with them. Today apples are Michigan's most valuable fruit crop, with a farm value of $91 million annually. Michigan's apples include Red and Golden Delicious, Jonathon, Northern Spy, McIntosh, Empire, Rome and Ida Red. (State of Michigan & Michigan Apple Committee)
Minnesota orchards offer the most distinctive assortment of apple varieties in the country. More than a dozen varieties found in the state are rare or absent in other parts of the country. An extensive research and breeding system has led to the development of hardy varieties that are able to withstand the state's severe winter weather. Minnesota's orchards produce enough tonnage to rank the state as the nation's 24th largest producer of apples.
Missouri has a long history of growing grapes. One hundred miles west of St. Louis is the Ozark Highlands, fondly known as Little Italy of the Ozarks. The Italians who settled in the area more than a century ago planted vineyards that are still active today. (Missouri Dept. of Agriculture and St. James Winery)
New York was one of the first states to grow grapes. Brotherhood Winery in the Hudson River Region, established in 1839, is the nation's oldest continually operated winery. Today's grape growers are scattered from Long Island to the Lake Erie Region, including the Hudson Valley and the beautiful Finger Lakes Region. (New York State Wine and Grape Foundation)
North Carolina is home to our nation's first cultivated grape. The earliest written account of the "White Grape," as the scuppernong was called, occurs in Giovanni de Verrazzano's logbook. The Florentine navigator, who explored the Cape Fear River Valley for France in 1524, wrote that he saw "...Many vines growing naturally there..." Today the state ranks 10th nationally in grape production. (NCWine.ORG)
North Carolina typically ranks seventh in apple production in the United States with more than 300 commercial apple operations comprised of 10,000 bearing acres of apple orchards. Eight million bushels of apples can be produced in a given year. Sixty percent is utilized in the processing industry, mainly as juice and apple sauce. (North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services)
Nicholas Longworth, a Cincinnati attorney in the early 1800s, is credited with being the father of Ohio's grape industry. By the 1820s he had established vineyards that included the Catawba grape. Eventually the quality of the Ohio River Valley grapes led to the valley's informal designation as the Rhine of America. The second grape area in Ohio sprouted along the shore of Lake Erie. Today this region makes up part of the three-state Lake Erie appelation which stretches through Pennsylvania to New York State.
It was the American Indians who first harvested the abundant grapes they found along Oklahoma's rivers and creeks. In 1900 vineyards were planted by the French immigrant, Leon C. Fouquet. The Czechs also planted vineyards near Prague, Oklahoma. Today products from the state's vineyards are served in the finest restaurants and win international recognition for excellence. (Lincoln County Grape Growers Assn., Oklahoma Grape Growers and Wine Makers Association, & Summerside Vineyards)
Oregon's earliest vineyards date back to the mid-1800s when an immigrant brought grapes across the Oregon Trail and planted them in the Willamette Valley. By the 1880s other grape types from California were introduced into Southern Oregon. The Pinot Noir era took blossom in 1965. (Gleaned in part from Lisa Shara Hall's wonderful book, "Wines of the Pacific Northwest.")
Thanks to the efforts of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and others, Virginia's Colonial Period encouraged the planting of apple trees and vineyards. Today, Virginia ranks among the top ten U.S. apple producers and has more than 2,000 acres of vineyards.
Washington is the nation's top apple-producing state, so it is appropriate that the apple was named a state symbol in 1989, the centennial year. From the beautiful blossoms of spring, to the heavily laden branches in autumn, the apple trees of eastern Washington represent one of the largest industries in the state. The Washington apple is certainly one of the most recognized symbols of the state worldwide.
Australia's grape growing regions are dominant in the southern part of the country with four distinct zones. They include South Australia (including the city of Adelaide), Victoria (home to Melbourne), New South Wales (Sydney's location), and Western Australia (often identified with the city of Perth). Though the country has no native grapes, a long list of common varieties were introduced from Europe and South Africa during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Australia is an international leader in premium grape juices, and its wines are now seen worldwide.
Canada's grape growing regions stretch literally from sea to shining sea, from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific, from the island of Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. Ontario is Canada's leading grape producer, accounting for 80% of all Canadian production.
Apples have made a similar march across the Canadian provinces. In the early 1600s, settlers began propagating apples as they established self-sufficiency in their new world. The crop moved westward through New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, and eventually into British Columbia by the 1800s.
There are seven dominant grape-growing regions in France including familiar names like Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Rhone Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon, the Loire Valley and Provence. It is no wonder that France is synonymous with so many of the grape varietals known worldwide.
If you leave Paris for Normandy you will find a rich, rolling countryside with apple orchards and cider production. Moving on to Brittany you will encounter France's second largest cider producing region.
Germany's 13 grape growing regions stretch from The Ahr in the north to Baden in the south. The Rheingau is one of the most distinguised wine regions of the world, while in the Saale-Unstrut region vines have been cultivated since 998 AD.
Government statistics show that nearly 100 grape varieties are grown in regular or experimental vineyards. The most important red is Spätburgunder, or Pinot Noir. However, the country is famous for its whites which comprise some 85% of total plantings. Riesling, known as Germany's "noble grape," has been called one of the greatest varieties of the world. It accounts for nearly 25% of the total production.
We are anticipating our first grape juices from Israel during 2009. Until they arrive, we wanted to give you a preview of some of the products we are looking at!
Entire libraries have been written about Italy's wine grapes and the harvest they produce. Some have separated the country's 20 wine growing regions into four broad geographic areas: the Northeast, the Northwest, Central Italy, The South including the Islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
New Zealand has ten distinct wine regions, six on the North Island and four on the South. Gisborne, located on the most easterly point of the North Island, is the first wine region in the world to see the new day's sun. Like so many other places on the planet, New Zealand has seen its grape industry explode in recent years. In 1996 the country had 238 wineries; a decade later it had 530. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon are three of the country's primary varietals.
We are currently negotiating to bring you gourmet juices from Kiwi producers. To whet your appetite, we wanted to give you a little preview of New Zealand's bounty!
The grape industry in South Africa is more than 300 years old. As the Cape was a major stop on the world's trading routes, it was settled by many different nationalities including the French, Italians, Spanish, Germans, and other Europeans who brought their wine-making skills. The first wines were reportedly produced in the 1600s. The Cape of Good Hope, at the very foot of Africa, is blessed with a mild, Mediterranean climate and mountainous terrain -- ideal for today's viticultural excellence. South Africa is the seventh largest wine producer in the world and a major producer of juice.
It is unclear when grape vines were first cultivated in Spain, but most scholars point to the Phoenicians approximately 3,000 years ago. The Romans continued the established practices and produced wine for their vast empire. With the arrival of the Arabs in the 8th Century and the Koran's prohibition of fermented drinks, grape production reoriented to non-alcoholic uses. With the reconquest of Spain by the Catholic kings, monks and friars worked to recover the winemaking tradition. In the 19th Century the arrival of phylloxera from northern Europe wiped out the majority of Spanish vineyards. Today Spain has recovered from the infestation and the additional damages leveled by the two World Wars to become the world's third largest wine producing country. Its grape juices also receive worldwide acclaim.
The Brits have arrived for the second time! First, the colonists brought apples to the new world. Now they are exporting apple juice from the historic orchards that dot England. Apple juice in the UK is a gourmet subject -- garnering festive 750ml bottling. You will find single apple varieties as well as blends that will make your taste buds tingle.