Believe it or Not! There is a wine industry in North Carolina!
September is North Carolina Wine month and that means it’s time to celebrate and acknowledge our growing wine and grape industry here in our own backyard.
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We’ve been blogging for quite some time now, and in the past couple of years found our focus shine more toward the NC wine industry. We have visited 80 wineries here in the state in addition to wineries in Virginia, Michigan, Ohio and our first trip to Napa Valley this past May.
Along our journey we’ve developed an appreciation for the wine produced here in our state. And over the years, we have not only seen growth with the addition of new wineries and vineyards, but we’ve also seen these wines improve and mature over the years.
BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIER
Being located in Raleigh, we have experienced a difficult barrier to break when it comes to the perception of NC wine. This state is home to the “Mothervine” on Roanoke Island, and yes, the state fruit is the scuppernong grape, but that only accounts for a percentage of what NC is producing. If sweet, muscadine or scuppernong is not to your liking, simply travel further west and you will find some spectacular wineries producing varietals such as Chambourcin, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. There are wineries that are experimenting with different varietals not common to the state, such as Corot Noir being produced by Midnight Magdelena in Jonesville, or the Nero produced by Piccione Vineyards. And Raffaldini Vineyards is currently growing an Italian-based grape known as Liguria.
So, when we talk NC wine, and the look of utter disbelief comes across people’s faces that we even have a wine industry here, we start the conversation. But conversation only goes so far. You must try!
PERCEPTION VS REALITY
Let’s look at some recent experiences we’ve had around town. At our neighborhood bottle shop we noticed several bottles of JOLO Vineyards award-winning Jolotage sitting on the bar for sale. When we mentioned how pleased we were to see NC wine, the owner almost turned her nose up at us. She had not yet tried the wine but was convinced to sell it in the shop, but her perception was that if it was NC wine, it must not be good. We had her open up a bottle and drink it with us. Her response was priceless! “Ooohh, this is good!!!” she exclaimed! “We know,” we responded.
Not too long ago there was a wine dinner in town featuring the wines of Jones von Drehl out of Thurmond. JvD is another favorite of ours. Good, solid wines that never disappoint. We were unable to attend the dinner but had the opportunity to talk with the hosts later when we visited the establishment. They were telling us what a great event it was and that very few, if any, attendees had even heard of the winery before. By the end of the evening, they had just about sold every bottle with rave reviews.
And just recently, we bought tickets for the Yadkin Valley Summer Whites event and convinced some family members, who are fairly new to the state, to join us. We made some suggestions on which wineries, of those we would be visiting that day, where they may enjoy a full tasting. They chose Laurel Gray in Hamptonville to start their day. We met them as they were finishing their tasting. We are glad to say, they loved it! They had no idea North Carolina was home to so many wineries, and so close to home – for them the Charlotte area. As we began our Summer Whites tour, and with each stop, more questions were directed towards us … “what makes the wine so good here?” …. “how many wineries are there?” … “it’s so beautiful here!” We have no doubt they will be back for more and we can’t wait to plan their next tour in NC Wine Country.
Related Story: Wine Pairing Weekend – Summer Whites in Yadkin Valley
These are just a few examples where perception or stereotypes need to be thrown out the window. Not all varietals will be your style but we’re sure you will find some to please the palate.
Sure, you’re looking at a 2-hour or so drive from Raleigh whether you head East or West – and sometimes it’s hard to plan that day trip. You venture out to your local Total Wine or bottle shop and the pickings are slim when it comes to NC wine. This is another obstacle and barrier that is hard to break and a topic for another day. The plus is that we are starting to see more and more NC wineries make their way to our area so keep your eyes open for tasting events at the local bottle shops as well. In our opinion, however, the best way to experience what our wine country has to offer, is to visit!
If you decide a day trip is the way to go but you find yourself not knowing where to start, let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our web page at www.trianglearoundtown.com or even our Pinterest for ideas. Let us know what you like or what you are looking for and we’ll be glad to guide you on your next winery adventure!
As we head into September and NC Wine month, follow along with us on Facebook as we will be posting blogs on wine trails and winemaker/owner interviews, tasting room tips and helpful hints for your winery adventure and more!
Related Story: Helpful Tips to Celebrate N.C. Wine Month
We find this industry in a very exciting place right now as it continues to grow and flourish. We urge all of our wine drinking followers to give NC wine a chance and let us know what you think!