The Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, North Carolina is raking in a bountiful harvest this year. Workers say the hearty crop thrives in heat, humidity, and even rain. The primary effect of heavy summer rains on the Muscadine grape was increasing the plumpness of the fruit. Recent sunshine has helped grape farms by sweetening the water-laden grapes as well as drying the soil in the fields. Until recently, the ground had been too muddy to navigate equipment through.
Muscadines are genetically able to withstand extreme weather. Their tough outer skin and resilient inner meat help the fruit build up tons of antioxidants. In fact they have the highest antioxidant levels of any grape in the world. The one thing the grapes cannot withstand is wind. High winds from storms like hurricanes will quickly shake the fruit off their vines. In fact, it is a shaking motion that harvesters use to remove the fruit from their parent plants. With winds being light overall this year. Many grapes have held strong and are now ready for harvest.
This is the first week the winery is harvesting. They will gather Muscadines from 1,800 acres over four different states. After the fruit is plucked, cleaned, pressed and chilled, it will be fermented for several months, and should be ready to drink in about a year.