Going Local with NC Wines and Raleigh Beers
By Jen & Dathan
In celebration of NC Wine & Grape month we decided to share NC wines with our local wine and beer club for our September monthly gathering. Better yet, we added in a couple of local Raleigh beers to help kick off Raleigh Beer Week, which begins on Sunday, Sept. 20.
We decided on 5 wines – all which are distributed here in the Triangle, with the exception of Laurel Gray's Encore, which we shared from a previous trip to the Yadkin Valley.
As the guests arrived, they were greeted with a tasting of Fish Hippie Bare Bones, a blend of Chardonnay and Videl Blanc. This winery is located in downtown Mt. Airy, opened in 2002 and is ranked as one of the larger wineries in the state. We would consider this winery to be classified more as an "urban" winery due to its location in a downtown area. But don't let that fool you! They do grow their own grapes on two vineyards. Interesting fact about this winery – the building is known to be haunted thereby naming one of its wines Restless Soul.
Our official tasting began with Cellar Select Three - White Table Wine. Childress is located in Lexington, which is roughly 20 miles south of Winston-Salem. Childress first opened its doors in 2004 and is owned by NASCAR driver Richard Childress. This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Viognier and Pinot Gris with aromas of grapefruit and lemongrass with a slight almond finish. The wine is named in honor of Childress and his No. 3 car he drove. This is an easy drinking white wine that would pair nicely with shrimp cocktail.
Next we went with a 2012 Estate Rosé Wine, Dulcimer. Jones von Drehl is located in Thurmond. We visited this winery for the first time this year and fell in love. The name, Jones von Drehl, derives from the blending of the two owners names. They began cultivating the land, which is situated in the scenic North Carolina mountains near the Virginia border, back in 2007. This wine is light-bodied with hints of fruit and effervescence. We believe there were some mixed reviews from our guests, yet several asked for a second taste.
The third wine of the evening was Hutton Vineyards' Heidi's Red. This is the only wine that we tasted where we had not visited the winery nor tried the wine prior to this club event. Hutton Vineyards is located in Dobson and started growing vines back in 2002 when its owners sold their beach house and moved to the mountains to live the dream we all have – to start a winery! This winery is one of the newest in the Yadkin Valley with over 45 acres of grapes on its land. Hutton is home to 11 different wines, with Heidi's Red being a red blend and part of its Estate series.
To shake things up a bit, we decided to have the next wine be a blind taste test and ask members to guess the varietal. The only clue was that it was an N.C. red wine. The reveal? A Cabernet Sauvignon from Biltmore Estate. Who has not heard of Biltmore Estate, located in the picturesque mountains in Asheville. Biltmore Estate is one of the most visited wineries in the country and has been greeting guests since 1895. This was a solid Cabernet.
Raleigh Beer Week
Next, we decided to move on to Raleigh Beer Week and try some local brews. Raleigh Beer Week begins on Sunday, Sept. 20 with a calendar full of events at breweries, restaurants, and bottle shops hosting rare tastings, beer dinners and new releases. Raleigh is currently home to 13 breweries, soon to be 12 as one of our newest breweries, Blackjack, will be moving to the beach and making Wilmington its new home.
The first beer we decided to share was the Deep Blue Saison. Gizmo has been around for about two years and is located off Hwy-70 in Raleigh. This beer is a twist on Gizmo's farmhouse classics, blended with blueberry. We've tried several blueberry beers and this one is one of our favorites! This beer comes in at 6.4% ABV.
Next was Raleigh Brewing Co.'s Hidden Pipe Coffee Porter. Raleigh Brewing Co. is located off Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. All of their canned beers come with a story about Raleigh. The Hidden Pipe dates back to the Civil War, when Thomas Briggs hid his money from Union troops by stuffing his money in pipes and burying them underground. After the war, he went back and dug up the pipes and opened a thriving hardware store. This porter contains cocoa, creamed coffee, expresso, molasses and a hint of blackberries.
Lastly, and most appropriately, we ended the night with Encore, a red dessert wine with black raspberry flavor, meant for sipping. We paired this wine with dark chocolate from Raleigh's Videri Chocolate Factory. Laurel Gray is located Hamptonville and is part of the Swan Creek AVA.
To recap, this turned out to be a fabulous theme to celebrate our great state of North Carolina by Going Local. Next, Triangle Around Town heads back to Gregory Vineyards for their 2015 Grape Stomp Festival on Sunday, Sept. 20, and are planning another trip to the Yadkin Valley. And if that wasn't enough, we'll be heading up to the High Country in a couple of weeks to pay a visit to Banner Elk Winery and Grandfather Winery.