The town of Naples, in New York’s Finger Lakes region of southwest Ontario County, has been called the “Grape Pie Capital of the World” since at least the 1980s. The Naples Grape Festival began in the early 1960s, and about this time, Al Hodges, owner of the Redwood Restaurant, commissioned Irene Bouchard (a baker who lived across the street) to make grape pies—a signature Naples product. “Irene Bouchard’s grape pie” recipe was featured in the Chicago (IL) Tribune in 1978.
The annual Naples Grape Festival features the “World’s Greatest Grape Pie Contest.”
Wikipedia: Naples, New York
Naples is a town in Ontario County, New York, USA. The population was 2,502 at the 2010 census.
The Town of Naples contains a village, also called Naples. The town is in the southwest corner of Ontario County.
The annual Naples Grape Festival is held in September, and the area is known for its wineries and grape pie.
Grapes, first planted in the 1860s, led to the modern grape and wine industry of the town and also led to the annual grape festival which began in 1961, one of which was broadcast on the World Food Network.
23 October 1978, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Pie is Naples’ purple passion” by Craig Goldwyn, sec. 6, pg. 3, cols. 1-2:
Irene Bouchard’s grape pie
One 9-inch pie
2 pounds concord grapes
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
Pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie
Wash and stem grapes. Squeeze grapes between thumb and forefingers, popping pulp and skins into separate bowl. Cook pulp in saucepan until soft, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain out seeds. Combine skins, strained pulp, sugar and tapioca. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Pour mixture into pastry lined 9-inch pie plate. Cover with top crust, trim, seal and flute edge. Prick top of crust to allow steam to escape. If desired top with lattice crust instead of double crust. Bake at 400 degrees 15 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking 30 to 40 minutes until crust is lightly browned and juice bubbles up in center. Serve warm with ice cream.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
14 September 1988, The Journal-Register (Medina, NY), “Grape Fest Returns,” pg. 8, col. 3:
For the past 20 years, Naples has been called the Grape Pie Capital of the World because over 60,000 purple grape pies are baked annually in Naples kitchens and sold to visiting tourists.
7 October 1990, Syracuse (NY) Herald American, “Grape pie aficionados head for Finger Lakes” (AP), pg. E4, col. 3:
NAPLES—Chicago is home to deep-dish pizza, and Buffalo boasts its wings. But when you’ve got a hankering for grape pie, there’s no place like Naples.
Since 72-year-old Irene Bouchard began baking the purple-filled pastries more than a quarter century ago, grape pie has become an institution in this tiny Finger Lakes village. More than a dozen roadside stands now hawk their own versions of grape pies and other grape-inspired goodies.
“It certainly is the grape pie capital of the world,” said John Brahm, owner of the Arbor Hill Grapery, a Naples winery.
21 September 2000, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, “In Naples, the grape-pie capital, one woman’s baking business is passing to a younger generation” by Karen Miilner, pg. C1:
Purple pie craze prevails in this scenic Ontario County town - at restaurants, roadside stands, and especially at this weekend’s Naples Grape Festival.
For foodies, the festival culminates Sunday afternoon when the winner of the World’s Greatest Grape Pie Contest is announced.
The woman credited for getting the dough rolling on this unique cottage industry is Irene Bouchard, who has been been making grape pies for restaurants, tourists and townspeople since the mid-1960s.
Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore (Fall-Winter 2002)
The World’s Greatest Grape Pie
by Lynn Case Ekfelt
Irene Bouchard is universally recognized as the mother of Naples’ grape pies, if not their actual inventor. In the early 1960s, Al Hodges, owner of the Redwood Restaurant, decided to introduce a novelty to lure customers: pies made from abundant local grapes, using a recipe he learned from an old German woman in the area. Soon people were coming from miles around, asking to buy whole pies to take home. Hodges and his chef could not handle the demand and called on Mrs. Bouchard, who lived across the street and had opened a small baking business in her home. By the 1980s, she was buying two and a quarter tons of grapes every fall and turning out six thousand pies, baked twelve at a time in her regular oven and an auxiliary wall oven. At eighty-four, she now bakes only for a few favored customers, but she has inspired other local cooks to follow in her footsteps. Most bake just during grape season—about seven weeks during the fall—and sell their products from stands in front of their homes. Others, though, freeze enough filling that they can sell pies year-round, and some have even begun to sell over the Internet. It is estimated that twenty thousand pies change hands during Grape Festival Weekend alone.
New York Curiosities:
Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff
By Cindy Perman
Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press
The village of Naples, 4 miles south of Canandaigua Lake, is among the smallest communities in New York State, but that hasn’t stopped it from doing grape things: It’s known as the “Grape Pie Capital of the World.”
Naples Grape Festival, NY 9/26-9/27 - grape pie capital of the world! RT @VisitFingerLake via @TheTravelmaven #FLX http://bit.ly/R0t86
10:34 AM - 15 Sep 2009
25 September 2009, Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, “The capital of grape pies” by Jeffrey Blackwell, pg. ?:
I can’t say this with any historical certainty or authority, but at least in the minds of many, the village of Naples is the grape pie capital of the world.
It even says so in an article on About.com. My other source is Monica Schenk, the owner of Monica’s Pies on Route 21, just north of downtown Naples.
“People tell us that they have never heard of (grape pies), only here in Naples,” she said. “So I guess we are the grape pie capital of the world. They’re not anywhere else to be found even though there are grapes all over the country.”
Chicago (IL) Tribune
New York wine country sweet on grape pie
By Katherine Rodeghier
MAY 27, 2016, 9:35 AM NAPLES, N.Y.
n this village of barely 1,000 in the Finger Lakes region of western New York, grape pie remains quite literally a cottage industry. Home bakers turn out the desserts by the thousands, earning it the moniker “Grape Pie Capital of the World.”
Sales peak in the fall, especially when the Naples Grape Festival draws 100,000 visitors on the last weekend of September. Vendors erect pop-up stores and set up roadside stands, sometimes with a coffee can collecting cash on the honor system.