Walk around Somerville, Medford or Cambridge in late August and you're likely to catch a whiff of grape juice. Concord grapes ripen at the end of summer and there's many a backyard arbor to be found in the city. More than once I've plucked grapes from the vine while showing a property and I have wonderful memories of sitting beneath dangling bunches of fragrant grapes at the Neighborhood Restaurant in Union Square, Somerville. Best of all - Concord grapes are like tasty vitamins - loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants.
Though I grew up in Concord, home of the Concord Grape, I was a fan of green grapes - the supermarket variety - until I bought my current house which came with an old grape vine in the backyard. Now every summer I feel like a farmer as I harvest my crop of sweet smelling grapes.
I'm an amateur farmer, however, sorely in need of guidance. Benign neglect has led to a substandard crop. Many of the grape clusters wither on the vine and I'm sure my overgrown arbor should be mercilessly pruned. What's an uninformed gardener to do?
In Massachusetts help can be found at the Mass Aggie Seminars offered through the University of Massachusetts. Workshops on growing a variety of backyard fruits are offered in the spring. I'm planning to enroll in Growing and Pruning Grapes in the Home Garden.
A bit of history with your grape juice? Commercial production of the Concord grape began in 1854. Ephraim Bull (1806-1895) had experimented with native grapes on his Concord, Massachusetts farm for several years and in 1853 his grapes won 1st prize at the Boston Horticultural Society's exhibition.
Ephraim Bull's house, Grapevine Cottage, is currently on the market in Concord for $799,000 complete with monument and grapevine. Just down the street from the Alcott's Orchard House and Hawthorne's Wayside, this historic house is delightful and filled with charm. Parts of the house are thought to date to the 17th century. This is truly a rare and wonderful opportunity for the old house enthusiast - or grape lover!
In addition to growing grapes, Elizabeth Bolton works with buyers and sellers in Cambridge, Arlington, Somerville, Medford, Watertown, and Belmont and nearby communities. Read more about the real estate market in the Cambridge area and contact Liz Bolton when you're thinking of buying or selling.