In 2006 my friend, Ryszard Cholodowski taught me how to bottle concord grape juice from our neighbor’s backyard grapes. I immediately fell in love with the rich, bold flavor of hot pressed concord grapes. The unmistakable aroma has filled our kitchen every fall since then, and now our kids can’t wait to help pick and process juice each October.
Not only does our family love drinking it, we also love gifting bottles to our friends, and serving it with nice meals when we have company over for dinner. Many people have asked where they can buy this flavor experience, but I haven’t had an answer.
Late last fall, I started searching for the answer to this question. I went to all the grocery stores and bought bottles of every brand of concord grape they stocked. It was all terrible. Then I went online and ordered bottles from every winery, vineyard and other producer I could find. I even bought commercial concentrate to try to recreate what we make at home. Nothing could compare to our own. In fact, even the expensive brands were usually filled with preservatives, added sugar or concentrate. Turns out that literally everyone at least filters their juice to make it prettier or for whatever reason. The filtering process takes out all the rich, bold flavor, and much of the amazing goodness that’s found naturally in fresh pressed grape juice.
What I was looking for literally didn’t exist, and as a family, we wanted it to exist.
We wanted to not only bring this flavor to our friends, but we also wanted to create a brand and a consumer experience that we would want to offer to our friends as a gift to enjoy with a nice meal.
We partnered with a third generation family vineyard on the south shore of Lake Erie to help us create Continental Concord, America’s best-tasting, purest, unfiltered premium grape juice.
Yes, I’m excited to bring you Continental Concord. But I’m even more excited to work with my family on this venture! I’m excited to teach my children important life lessons that are uniquely acquired via the successes and failures of entrepreneurship. When they have a marketing or sales idea or a new, remarkable product concept, we can work together to create and bring it to life. We can work through a P&L together. We can solve challenges together. We learn accounting, marketing and sales, and #startuphustle together. We can make memories together.
Here’s to #entrepreneurship, #familybusiness and #makingmemories!
The Ritchie Family
Here's our family last summer labeling bottles at the winery.