Scuppernong is a thick-skinned, white-wine grape from the southeastern United States. It is grown particularly in North Carolina but also in Tennessee, Georgia and as far north as Virginia. American to the core, Scuppernong is a member of North America's very own Vitis rotundifolia vine species (rather than the Eurasia's Vitis vinifera), and therefore of the Muscadines.
The grape's distinctive name is that of the Scuppernong River in North Carolina, along whose banks the vine was found in abundance by 16th-Century English explorers Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlow. The river itself was named with a local Native American (Algonquian) word, for which various translations exist, including "magnolia" and "sweet bay tree". It believed that all Scuppernong vines are descended from a single "mother" vine – still alive today and growing near the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. This "Scuppernong Mother Vine", now more than 400 years old, spans an impressive 120ft (36.5m).
Thanks to its very thick skins, Scuppernong has strong resistance to various vine diseases. This is particularly valued in the hot, humid climate of the southeastern states, where fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and downy mildew are widespread, and the still-incurable Pierce’s Disease poses a serious threat. Scuppernong vines have long thrived in environments where vinifera varieties would simply perish. Another key to the variety's disease resistance is its high levels of the natural anti-microbial agent resveratrol.
One side-effect of Scuppernong's thick skins, is that it significantly slows down the grape's ripening processes. As a result, it is standard practice for winemakers to add sugar to Scuppernong juice in order to achieve acceptable levels of potential alcohol. Scuppernong wines have the distinctive, wild, musky flavor common to all Muscadine varieties, and can be made either dry or as sweet dessert styles.
Synonyms include: Bullet, Big White Grape, Bull, Green Muscadine, Pedee, Hickman's Grape.
Food matches include:
Europe: Eclade (grilled mussels)
Americas: Salt & pepper squid