Pennsylvania Wine School: What is a Concord?

Chambour-huh? Vidal who? Need some help comprehending the plethora of exciting Pennsylvania grape varietals? We’re at your service, offering up some information on some of the wine words you need to know.

Varietal: Concord (pronounced KON-kawrd).

Grown: Across Pennsylvania, but particularly in the northwest.

Similar to: This varietal is unique in the wine world, but has a familiar red grape juice flavor.

Concord is an iconic American grape, first sold in 1854 by Ephraim Wales Bull of Concord, Massachusetts. He planted approximately 22,000 seedlings before producing his ideal grape. Early to ripen — key for escaping the northern frosts — but with a rich, full-bodied flavor, the hardy Concord thrived. The varietal first gained traction as a commercial wine grape in kosher wine. As the observant Jewish community on the East Coast grew, they made wine with what was available locally, and the style stuck.

As with other native grapes, Concord is a part of the Vitis Labrusca family. Vitis Labrusca is a woody, deciduous grapevine that climbs by tendrils to 40′ long. The cool climate of the region near Lake Erie is particularly hospitable to Concord grapes (and other native varieties like Niagara). Hearty even in the harshest winter conditions, Concord is a prolific vine that can live for many years.

The grapes are a gorgeous dark purple and the flavor is “classic grape” — most of the Concord crop becomes grape juice or grape jelly. It is also grown extensively as a backyard crop. Families across Pennsylvania pluck fruit from these attractive vines to make pies and jam.

Concord can be paired with a wide variety of foods. The sweetness makes a lovely companion to strong flavors like sharp cheddar or salty foods like roasted nuts, spicy seafood, and barbecued meats. Of course, a classic pairing is rich chocolate and other sweet treats.

Below is a sampling of PA Concord wines for you to try from all across PA Wine Land:

NorthWest:
Heritage Wine Cellars, Concord
Penn Shore Winery & Vineyards, Concord

NorthCentral:
Oregon Hill Winery, Canyon Country Concord
The Winery at Wilcox, Hunter Red

NorthEast:
Maiolatesi Wine Cellars, Blackberry Concord
Wood Winery, Sweet Bailey

SouthWest:
Narcisi Winery, Concord
Ripepi Winery, Concord

SouthCentral:
Armstrong Valley Vineyards & Winery, Concord
Cassel Vineyards of Hershey, Concord

SouthEast:
Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery, Concord
Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery, DiVyne Red