State Fruit: Scuppernong Grape
by Steven Case
NC Government & Heritage Library, 2007
The General Assembly of 2001 named the Scuppernong grape as the official State Fruit (Session laws, 2001, c. 488). The same session law declared the strawberry and blueberry to be the state berries.
The Scuppernong (vitis rotundifolia) is a variety of muscadine grape, and has the distinction of being the first grape ever actively cultivated in the United States. It was named for the Scuppernong River, which runs from Washington County to the Albemarle Sound. Giovanni de Verrazano noticed this variety as far back as 1524, and explorers for Sir Walter Raleigh (or Ralegh, as it's sometimes spelled) in the 1580's sent back reports from the Outer Banks of grape vines that "…covered every shrub and climbed the tops of high cedars. In all the world, a similar abundance was not to be found." The Roanoke colonists are credited with discovering the Scuppernong "Mother Vineyard," a vine that is now over 400 years old and covers half an acre.
AN ACT ADOPTING THE OFFICIAL FRUIT AND BERRIES OF NORTH CAROLINA.
PART I. NORTH CAROLINA'S HERITAGE OF FARMING
Whereas, North Carolina's economy originated and developed as an agrarian economy with a cornucopia of fruits and vegetables; and
Whereas, the State takes great pride in its rich heritage of farming; and
Whereas, there are still many families who base their livelihood in farming and who are continuing the North Carolina tradition of producing goods from our land; and
Whereas, one of the main sources of agricultural production in the State is the production of fruits and berries of several varieties; and
PART II. THE SCUPPERNONG GRAPE.
Whereas, North Carolina is the home of our nation's first cultivated grape, the Scuppernong; and
Whereas, the Scuppernong grape was named after the Scuppernong River in North Carolina; and
Whereas, British explorers in 1584 and 1585 reported to Queen Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh that the barrier islands of what is now, in part, Roanoke Island were full of grapes and that the soil of the land was "so abounding with sweet trees that bring rich and most pleasant gummes, grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath not greater…"; and
Whereas, Sir Walter Raleigh's colony discovered the famous Scuppernong "Mother Vineyard" on Roanoke Island, a vine that is now over 400 years old and has a trunk over two feet thick; and
Whereas, the State toast, penned in 1904, references North Carolina as the land "[w]here the scuppernong perfumes the breeze at night,"; and
PART III. THE STRAWBERRY AND THE BLUEBERRY.
Whereas, there are over 1,700 acres of strawberries and over 3,600 acres of blueberries harvested in North Carolina each year; and
Whereas, in 2000, strawberry growers in the State produced 23,000,000 pounds of strawberries, yielding $17,325,000 in revenues; and
Whereas, in 2000, blueberry growers in the State produced 17,500,000 pounds of blueberries, resulting in an increase in the State's economy of over $18,000,000 in revenues; and
Whereas, these delicious berries are a good source of vitamins, a number of life?sustaining minerals, and dietary fiber;
Whereas, the blueberry is an antioxidant, which has been proven to reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease; and
Whereas, each year the Town of Chadbourn in Columbus County hosts the North Carolina Strawberry Festival, which is one of the most celebrated traditions in the State; and
Whereas, the State of North Carolina does not have an official fruit nor an official berry; Now, therefore,
The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:
SECTION 1. Chapter 145 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:
"§ 145-18. State fruit and State berries.
(a) The official fruit of the State of North Carolina is the Scuppernong grape (Vitis genus).
(b) The official red berry of the State is the strawberry (Fragaria genus).
(c) The official blue berry of the State is the blueberry (Vaccinium genus)."
SECTION 2. This act is effective when it becomes law.
In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 5th day of December, 2001.
s/ Beverly E. Perdue
President of the Senate
s/ James B. Black
Speaker of the House of Representatives
s/ Michael F. Easley
Approved 6:58 p.m. this 16th day of December, 2001
References and additional resources:
NCwine.org (NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs.)
Poling, Barclay and Connie Fisk. "Muscadine Grapes in the Home Garden." North Carolina State University, Horticulture Information Leaflets. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/hil/hil-8203.html
Newton, Amanda Alimira. [Illustration.] 1905. U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, M.D. https://usdawatercolors.nal.usda.gov/pom/catalog.xhtml?id=POM00006084 (accessed June 14, 2017).
Mandie (Flickr user captivated), 2003. "Scuppernongs getting ripe." http://www.flickr.com/photos/captivated/4878046178/
1 June 2007 | Case, Steven