Education

Packing Niagara Grapes and Peaches, 1911


Historical Context
French Huguenots planted the first grapevines in New York in 1677. These Protestant Frenchmen planted the vines near New Paltz in present-day Ulster County. Grapes became increasingly common on family farms and were used for personal, not commercial, consumption.
    
A Quaker named Robert Underhill brought the first commercial grapevines from Europe around 1827. Although his crop failed, he continued to crossbreed the European vines with the heartier American vines until he had a successful vineyard. Quakers at Croton Point also commercially grew watermelons, apples, pears, and chestnuts.
    
Today, New York is still a top producer of grapes for juice and wines. The four most prominent regions for grapes are the Lake Erie, Finger Lakes, and Hudson Valley regions, as well as eastern Long Island. In 2004, New York was ranked third among United States growers behind California and Washington. The New York crop was valued at $31.2 million in 2004.  Three-fourths of New York grapes were used to make juice and one-fourth were used to make wine.
Essential Question
How does geography impact local economies?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain how geography influenced the location of this facility.
[click to enlarge]
Agriculture. Packing Niagara grapes and peaches, New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_10417
Document Description
Packing Niagara grapes and peaches in Youngstown, New York, 1911.
Questions
  1. What kind of fruit do you see?
Historical Challenge
What other major grape-producing countries lie on roughly the same latitude as New York?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: What are some nutritional benefits of grapes?
English Language Arts: Make a poster advertising New York State grape juice. Concentrate on a region of New York in your ad.
Resources
  1. Love, Ann. Farming. Buffalo, NY: Kids Can Press, 1998. ISBN: 1550744518