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Outer Banks Folklore
The Mystery of the Mother Vineyard
Mother Vineyard in Roanoke Island is home to the oldest known grapevine in the United States. This four-hundred year old Scuppernong mother vine has a trunk two feet thick and once stretched one-half an acre. Sir Walter Raleigh found this vine here in the Outer Banks and sent back reports that the vines "covered every shrub and climbed the tops of high cedars". That is a lot of grapevine! The Scuppernong is a variety of the muscadine grape and is the first grape actively cultivated in the United States. These sweet muscadines are a bronze-green color and have very thick bitter outside hulls, while the inside is sweet and juicy. Scuppernong grapes are extraordinarily high in antioxidants and are great for your cardiovascular health.
The mystery lies in who set these vines. The vines are set equal distances from each other, obviously planned and well taken care of since they were planted. Everyone agrees that these vines were set by advanced cultivators, who even used scaffolds to hold the vines but who were these advanced farmers? Algonquian Indians were native to this area and indeed grew tobacco and potatoes and were quite sophisticated in their farming methods. Colonists reported that the Indians made and enjoyed wine. Still the question arises - where did the original vines come from?
Interestingly enough, a female deckhand on the ferry says her grandmother claims to have traveled between Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island on a homemade bridge of grapevines. Now that would be a lot of grapevines and a tall tale at that!
Today, the muscadine grows grows wild in North Carolina backyards and hangs densely from the trees in our forests. The Mother Vine is on private property and is not so very easy to find. If you drive north from Manteo on 1-64, Mother Vineyard Road is about three-fourths of a mile past the city limits. Make a right on Mother Vineyard Road and very quickly you will come up on a sharp right turn where the sound is. A few hundred feet past that sharp turn on the left, you can see the 400 year old Mother Vineyard. As this is private property, watch your Ps and Qs careful not to trespass by keeping on the road.
For more information on The Mother Vineyard Mystery, click here to visit the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce website.
Eating Scuppernongs Scuppernongs have thick skins and seeds. To eat a scuppernong, first... hold the grape stem side up and squeeze the grape. The juicy inside will squirt into your mouth. Be careful to spit out the seeds and don't chew the skin as it is bitter. Then again there is the tall tale that suggests if you swallow the seeds a grape vine will grow in your tummy.
Storing Your Scuppernongs
Scuppernong Grape Butter
Scuppernong Grape Ice
Scuppernong Ice Cream
Grape Hull Pie
Muscadine "Dump Cake"
Grape Juice Sherbet Floats
Mulled Muscadine Cider
Cheddar, Crab & Wine Fondue
Sweet & Sour Glaze
Recipes courtesy of North Carolina Grape Council & NCDA&CS
For more great Outer Banks folklore be sure to check out the The Legend of Hatteras Jack.
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Description: Learn more about the Folklore of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Title: Outer Banks Information | Outer Banks Folklore
Terms: Outer Banks Information, Outer Banks Folklore
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