1,000 Family Farmers Hit By Smallest Concord Grape Harvest Since 1977

Nov 16, 2012, 08:00 ET from Welch's

Tireless Effort During Growing Season Produced Quality, Tasty Fruit

CONCORD, Mass., Nov. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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. Welch's family farmers worked tirelessly to get the harvest in so that families across the country can continue to enjoy the real grape goodness of Welch's all year long.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121116/DC14868-INFO)

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 put exceptional care into their grapes, inspect, and test them regularly and work around the clock to collect their fruit at just the right time. 

"We get one shot at harvest each year for the Concord grapes that will go into Welch's products for the whole year across the entire country," remarks Militello. 

"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, scientist, and Food Network Star Alton Brown. "It's amazing to me that no matter how different each harvest season is Welch's is able to consistently deliver the juice flavor I've loved since childhood year after year." 

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 and the unmistakable flavor of Welch's 100% Grape Juice."

"Since the growing area is fairly limited, most folks aren't lucky enough to visit a Concord grape vineyard at harvest time," Brown continued. "Well I have and I love that moment I step out of the car and that one of a kind aroma hits me. It's like breathing in my childhood. And I have to tell you, as you walk around the vineyard the passion and dedication of the farmers is so clear.   The juice is an extension of them."

"One other thing that most folks don't know is that thanks to the Concord grapes the family farmers work so hard to grow each year, Welch's 100% Grape Juice can help support a healthy heart," said Brown. "Another thing a lot of people don't know is that Welch's presses the entire Concord grape, skin, seed, pulp, and all and that releases heart-healthy plant nutrients called polyphenols."

Share what's good today with Welch's. Visit welchs.com to find out more about our family of farmers and how you can share the goodness of Concord grapes with your family.

About Welch's®
Headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts, Welch's is the processing and marketing subsidiary of the National Grape Cooperative. Welch's is owned by more than 1,000 family farmers across America and in Ontario, Canada, who make up this cooperative and who grow the delicious and inherently healthy Concord grape used in Welch's juices and other grape-based products. Welch's is committed to research and development that will meet the growing demand for products that address consumers' health and nutrition needs. Welch's products are sold throughout the United States and in approximately 50 countries around the globe. Welch's is an Equal Opportunity Employer- Minorities/Female/Disabled/Veterans. For more information on Welch's visit welchs.com.

SOURCE Welch's