About 1000-1,200 acres of muscadines are currently grown in North Carolina. The greatest concentration of muscadine-growing farms is in eastern North Carolina, but muscadine vineyards and wineries can be found throughout the state. The North Carolina muscadine harvest starts in the eastern part of the state in late August and continues through September, ending latest on the higher elevation farms.
During the harvest season, North Carolina muscadines can be found in grocery stores, roadside stands and markets. Demand builds supply, so ask for them at your local store! Many farms offer Pick-Your-Own grapes as well. If you pick or buy more than you can eat, fresh grapes (and the flavorful grape hulls) can also be frozen for year-round use in pies, cobblers, and other desserts. And of course, muscadines can be enjoyed all year long as wine, juice, and jelly. Their special flavor and aroma stands out in all these products.
With nearly 200 licensed wineries and 2,300 grape-bearing acres, the state now ranks seventh in the United States in terms of wine and grape production. A 2016 economic impact study estimated that North Carolina’s wine and wine grape industry generated $375 million in wages and $89 million in state taxes. A number of the North Carolina wineries specialize in muscadine wines, and others make wines from both muscadine and vinifera grapes. While muscadine wine was once considered only a sweet wine product, there has been an explosion of wineries creating a variety of first-class muscadine wines from sweet to dry.
Several businesses have been created based on production and marketing of “nutraceuticals” or health-oriented muscadine products. New research on the health benefits of muscadines is very likely to result in new medicinal and nutraceutical products in the near future.
North Carolina proclaimed the Scuppernong grape as its state fruit in 2001. May is currently North Carolina Wine Month and August is North Carolina Grape Month — though in many places harvest doesn’t start until September, this gets people primed for the upcoming harvest season!