North Carolina is no longer just scuppernong and muscadine, the sticky sweet wines that NC has been known for many years. Yadkin Valley is the best known region for dry wines in the state.
New wineries and varietals growing here
There are quite a few adventurers that are driving the growth of the valley. From Rhone varietals to Spanish, they are experimenting with what will work in our crazy climate and soils of Western North Carolina. While not nearly as established as California or even Oregon, the wine industry is growing. New wineries are popping up every year.
Grenache, Syrah, Malbec and Merlot
I was able to take a trip up to a few wineries in Yadkin Valley a few weeks ago. First, we had to make a pitstop along the way in Lexington for some western NC BBQ. In the eastern part of Yadkin Valley, you will find quite a lot of Rhone varietals. Grenache and Syrah are a majority of the plantings, along with Malbec and Merlot. The North Carolina clay soils are perfect for Merlot, but the heat and humidity can really push the limits of where Merlot wants to be grown. Weathervane Winery is doing some fun things with all of those along with a few whites, that were standouts for me.
Sangiovese and other Italian varietals
In the northern part of Yadkin Valley, Raffaldini Vineyards is working with Italian varietals. Sangiovese is the main grape they are working with. They are also making an Amarone style wine with estate grown grapes that clocks in at 16.5%!
The first to make estate wines
In the west, at the base of the Blue Ridge Parkway, sits Jones von Drehle. Started in 2007, they were one of the first to make all estate wines in North Carolina. Making wine from an array of varietals and inspired from classic European regions, Cabernet Franc is finding a home there along with Tempranillo and Malbec.
If you make the trip, tell Chuck and Diana I said “Hi!”
At only 90 miles north of Charlotte, you can easily make a day trip to one of my favorite vineyards in the state. There is something for everyone there, except for the Pinot Noir drinkers.
Adam Arlen: “I am passionate about wine because it is history in a bottle.” He is the sommelier for The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Originally from Allentown, PA, he believes you should always branch out and find new things. His goal is to never stop learning and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. A fun fact about him: “I was a nuclear engineer on a submarine in a previous life.”