What are Concord Grapes?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Concord grapes are a grape variety developed in the Eastern United States during the 19th century. The grapes have a number of uses, and often appear in jams, jellies, grape juice, and sweets. Some companies also make wines from these grapes, although the wines tend to have a slightly dark, musty flavor which some consumers dislike. Concord grape products are readily available in many markets, and the fresh grapes may sometimes be found for sale as well.

Grape juice was initially introduced as an alternative to communion wine.
Grape juice was initially introduced as an alternative to communion wine.

Ephraim Wales Bull developed the first Concord grapes, after extensively cultivating a range of New World grapes. It is possible that he crossed his grapes with Old World grapes, but in either case he developed a consistent, very cold hardy grape which was released on the market in 1854. He named his grapes after Concord, Massachusetts, the town very close to his homestead.

Concord grapes harbor antioxidants and useful vitamins and minerals, and are commonly used in jams and jellies.
Concord grapes harbor antioxidants and useful vitamins and minerals, and are commonly used in jams and jellies.

The color of Concord grapes ranges from purple to black, and they often have a pale bloom. They have a tart, robust, slightly musky grape flavor, and are not nearly as sweet as many Old World grapes. The skins are easily removed, tending to slip from the fruit inside, especially after a brief blanching, and like all grapes they grow in densely clustered stems. Since this fruit is very hardy, it grown in many Northern states.

One of the earliest commercial uses for Concord grapes was juice. In fact, these grapes were among the first fruits to be commercially juiced and pasteurized so that they would not ferment, creating a non-alcoholic fruit juice product. Grape juice was initially introduced as an alternative to communion wine, although it quickly spread to the rest of the populace as well. The dark, tart juice continues to be produced in high volume, along with products like jam and grape flavoring for sweets.

The purple to black grapes have excellent nutritional value, since they harbor antioxidants and useful vitamins and minerals. For this reason, many consumers like to eat Concord grapes as straight table grapes, when they are available. Unsweetened juices are also a good source of nutrition, or those blended with the juice of sweeter fruits to make a flavorful juice cocktail without added sugars.

Concord grapes are used by some companies to make different wines.
Concord grapes are used by some companies to make different wines.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My favorite grape is the concord. Yummy!


I can appreciate the obsession that some of you have with discovering the best tasting grape that the agricultural industry has created but the reality is that most table grapes do not even come close to the sweetness of a wine grape.

I had the unique experience of getting the chance to work on a very small and organic vineyard in the Humboldt region of Northern California. It was in those foggy and golden hills of the southern part of the county that I tasted the best grape of my life. No, sorry, it was not a concord grape but rather the type of grape used for creating the juice of the gods. Wine grapes.

The amazing sugar content is what made the smallish grapes so absolutely irresistible. The vineyard owner described to me how they monitor the sugar levels of the grapes as to measure the perfect day for harvesting of the fruit.

All the workers were more then satisfied by the owners offer of eating all the grapes we could stomach. In all honesty though, I was done with grapes after about three days but the memory of that first sugar drop of juice will never be forgotten.


@dkarnowski, I have to disagree with you on your analysis of the best tasting grape that is on the market today. I realize like you do that there is a lot that goes into the cultivation of new kinds of grapes but honestly I am not impressed with the new varieties that are hitting the super market aisles.

Such a huge assortment ranging from green to red is very tempting but after all my years of experimentation I have yet to find a grape as tasty as Thompson seedless grapes. Simply put, nothing compares to the flavor that is created from this wonderful natural candy.

I did give most other grapes a fair shot at such a prestigious title as my favorite grape. For years I searched the farmers markets of California looking for the divine jewel of the grape vines only to discover that the besting tasting grape is right on my average grocery store shelf.

Two cheers for Thompson Seedless!!


Concord grapes are very tasty and most certainly one of the better varieties of this most delicious fruit. I have to admit though that after having grown up in the San Juaquin valley of California that my taste buds have been very spoiled by some of the best grapes in the world.

The succulent, plump and bursting flavors of sweetness explode into the mouths of local Californians.

My favorite type is of course the variety called Red Flames. These are especially crisp in texture and literally burst with juice when bitten into.

Concord grapes are great classic purple grape but unfortunately the experience just doesn't live up the hype that people give the very old style fruit.

While grapes take years to develop and much money has to be invested into farm infrastructure I still believe that the best grapes you can ever eat are grown right in Kern County of Southern California. Happy Grapes to you!!


Even though we can get most of the fruit year round, the in season for concord grapes is fall, particularly the month of October. We get the most nutritional value when eating fruit in season. Concord grapes, and other purple grapes contain potassium and polyphenols. They help control the bad cholesterol.

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