September is wine-y
Whether it’s sipping a favorite North Carolina wine or enjoying grapes directly off the vine, there are plenty of ways for people to celebrate N.C. Wine and Grape Month in September.
“Many people know about North Carolina’s history of grape production, but they may not realize there is also a vibrant wine and grape industry today in North Carolina,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “With about 120 wineries and 400 commercial grape growers, we’re the 10th-largest producer of wine and grapes in the nation.”
North Carolina is home to the nation’s first cultivated wine grape, the scuppernong, which grew wild on Roanoke Island. Known as the “Mother Vine,” the plant is more than 400 years old and covers half an acre. Today, the state produces a large assortment of both muscadine and vinifera varieties of grapes.
Gov. Pat McCrory proclaimed September as North Carolina Wine and Grape Month in recognition of the industry’s estimated $1.28 billion economic impact on the state.
People celebrated Wine and Grape Month during Grape Day at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh on Sept. 6. Free samples of N.C. grapes, wine tastings and recipes were available.
In addition, there are more than 20 events planned at wineries and vineyards across the state during the month. For a list of special events, as well as directions to N.C. wineries and vineyards, go to www.ncwine.org.
Just up Highway 73, nearly to Mt. Gilead, a white picket fence announces the hidden treasure of Summer Duck Farm, home of the Little River Vineyard and Winery.
Little River Winery combines the best elements of wineries throughout the world. Winemaking techniques developed and used in France, Italy, Argentina, South Africa and Napa Valley are being implemented and used at Little River. Little River specializes in traditional wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and others. The winery is also making several interesting fruit wines such as a Dry Strawberry, and Sparkling Apple, that have drawn significant demand. These fruit wines are great for parties, picnics and special events for groups.
Brandon Smith has been working at the winery for two and a half years, and said the oldest part of the wine making component of Summer Duck Farm is about 15 years old.
A wine tasting room nestled beneath over-sized oaks not only welcomes guests into a comfortable and rustic room with multiple functions, but also opens out onto a sundeck that looks out onto several ponds.
“It’s an easy-going, relaxing mood here,” said Smith. “Especially this time of year when it cools down. At the winery we have a few weddings planned this month.”
General Manager Will Russell said the house has been standing since the 1850s, and the vines were started in 2000.
“We’ve got some vines we’ve moved around and traded out,” said Russell. “There are some as young as three years old. It started with a private picnic shelter and grape sales. The owner John Georgius built the winery and added a sidewalk and parking lot later. It’s a great spring and fall place. We feature 11 different wines; sweet wines are under the Crawdad Creek label, and the dry or more classic wines are Little River Vineyards.”
Go with the flow
To get the full experience of North Carolina wines, you could take the time to head across the state to a variety of vineyards and locations that are hosting wine events for connoisseurs, whether you know your Rieslings from your Chardonnays, or just want a new way to experience our state.
The website www.ncwine.org has an interactive map that pinpoints all listed wineries across the state, and allows you to click on them and learn more.
And if your Smart-phone is close by, check out the App Store to see a fruitful list of apps for the wine fan. The app Hello Vino serves as your personal wine assistant to go to with questions and recommendations. Not sure what wine goes with the main course of your next party? Consult the app Pocket Wine to browse styles, but beware, this app isn’t free. Out of more than 2,000 wine apps available for Smart-phones, they range from free to several dollars, but each one offers advice, pictures and colorful descriptions of wines from world-wide wines to the local goods.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.