North Carolina wine bloggers converge for annual wine summit

BY DATHAN KAZSUK

One usually sees the escapades of the local bloggers later in the evening while perusing social media under the light of the desktop’s radiant hue. Oh wow! They went to Asheville today? Or, I’m surprised they stayed so close to home this weekend.

It’s very sporadic when a handful of wine bloggers can all spend an entire day together – unless it’s the eve of the second annual North Carolina Wine Bloggers Summit. And that’s exactly what happened on March 24 when roughly 20 North Carolina bloggers convened at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Jonesville to spend a day of wine education, lunch, camaraderie, and well, wine!

Fellow bloggers include the Wine Mouths, NC Wine Guys, Wine Carolinas, Merlot2Muscadine, WineAntics as well as NC Wine’s Jack Nales and our friend Kim Williams from Weddings by the Vine. For the two of us, it meant an early morning departure from Raleigh to arrive at the rendezvous, where we were to meet all the bloggers in the lobby of the hotel. We then hopped inside the “Van in Black” to head to our first destination – Jones von Drehle Vineyards in Thurmond. Sitting in the passenger seat en route to our first stop, I spent some time talking to the van’s owner Ryan Watts about the passenger van’s service, which is primarily winery tours. Upon arrival at Jones von Drehle all the bloggers got out of the van and after a quick group photo from Watts, who is a photography fanatic, we made our way to the crush pad area of the winery where we were introduced to JvD’s brilliant winemaker Dan Tallman.

Jones von Drehle’s winemaker Dan Tallman.

Jones von Drehle’s winemaker Dan Tallman.

Introducing himself to the gaggle of bloggers, Tallman led the gang through an in depth tour of the winery and his background behind his winery experience. After the tour and a brief lunch break, the media influencers lined the tasting room bar where we were given a tasting of eight wines and a brief history lesson on the winery from co-owners Diana and Chuck Jones. A few of our personal favorites during the tasting were the 2015 Tempranillo as well as the Estate and Reserve Petit Verdot – which is a huge hit in the Triangle Around Town household.

RELATED LINK: BEST IN SHOW WINERIES TALK ABOUT AWARDS

Our second winery visit of the afternoon was McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks, which lies approximately 1.4 miles down the road from JvD. Once we arrived we were greeted promptly by owners Sean and Patricia McRitchie as well as their son, Asher. After a brief introduction on the winery, which we’ve been fans of for years, we followed Sean as he made his way along the vines to describe to us what’s growing in the vineyard. It was very interesting hearing Sean’s background in the wine industry, and learning about the process the McRitchie’s use as far as creating craft wine and ciders – which McRitchie was the first in the state to start producing hard ciders.

Sean McRitchie is co-owner and winemaker at McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks.

Sean McRitchie is co-owner and winemaker at McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks.

Inside the tasting room, Hannah led the gang through a tasting, which for many, was their first time trying the McRitchie wines. From the Muscat Blanc and Fallingwater to one of my personal favorites, the Ring of Fire, bloggers were falling in love. Meanwhile, I talked to Hannah and Asher about getting my credit card information updated to pick up our latest wine club selections from the previous month. After the tasting we all headed back to the hotel to get some much needed rest from an exhausting day. But that rest didn’t last long, as part of our evening out included a 3-course meal from the Yadkinville-based catering company Gold Leaf Catering.

RELATED LINK: McRITCHIE WINERY CELEBRATES A MILESTONE

Inside one of the smaller conference rooms in the Fairfield we gathered with bloggers, winery owners and tasting room managers as we had a bottle share of assorted wines from around NC and the world. Our meal started out with a salad and went to a pot roast and finished with a pecan tart for dessert. It was just south of 10 p.m. by the time we made it up to our fourth floor room to turn in for the night. With lots of wine, sunlight and the obligatory selfies and Instagram posts us bloggers feel inclined to share with you – it was time to crawl in bed and get ready for day two of the NC Wine Bloggers Summit … the 8 hour conference is next. Goodnight.


BEHIND THE SCENES

Take a look at a few behind the scenes photos from this blog!