September is NC Wine Month!

5 Sep

It is becoming increasingly clear that the west coast is not the only prolific producer of good American wines.  North Carolina, for example, is home to more than 90 wineries and ranks 7th in the nation for wine production.  Commonly planted vinifera grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Viognier, mostly grown in the piedmont and western region.

Recently I visited two well known North Carolina wineries and tasted more than a dozen different wines produced there.  Both wineries are in the beautiful mountainous region of NC, which offers spectacular hiking, fishing and kayaking (as well as some great restaurants!).  All of the wines I sampled could easily have been mistaken for very good California wines.

Banner Elk Winery is the North Carolina High Country’s first winery. What sets Banner Elk Winery apart from some others in this state is that it uses only locally grown grapes, with no imports to supplement the local crop.  Two reds that I found very drinkable and quite reasonable in price were their cabernet sauvignon and Banner Elk Red.

The cabernet is a complex and well-balanced wine with a medium body and elegance resembling an old-world Bordeaux.  The Banner Elk Red is an earthy blend of Marechal Foch, Petite Syrah, and Cabernet Franc grapes which results in a wonderfully complex and balanced mélange of flavors. This was even less expensive than the Cab, but I found it more interesting.  Definitely a wine I will buy again.

The Biltmore Estate is, believe it or not, the most visited winery in the United States!  Established in 1971 with primarily French-American hybrid grapes, the ~100 acres of vineyards now produce mainly the six varieties listed above.   My favorite white was their award winning Biltmore Sauvignon Blanc, which was crisp and refreshing with hints of peach and grapefruit.  The red that really stood out for me was the  Cardinal’s Crest Red.  Named for a ceremonial wall hanging in Biltmore’s collection, this distinctive dry red was soft and wonderfully aromatic, with cherry, black licorice and a bit of herbs. It is a bit acidic with a clean finish, which makes it a great wine for pairing with grilled meat.

All in all, these wineries really are great news for those of us wine-lovers who live in the Southeast.


2 Responses to “September is NC Wine Month!”

  1. Badar Treseder October 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    First time here. Awesome blog and super post. Well done.

    • Scott Brubaker April 20, 2013 at 7:42 am #

      Bill, this exceptionally professional. Don’t kid youself; FOLLOW YOUR DREAM and do this for a living!

      Your passion and actual love of the subject actually “grabs” the reader.

      Please consider this thought…..

      Your Friend, Scott

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