Thursday, August 30, 2018

North Carolina Wine Month kicks off in downtown Raleigh

The Norris House in downtown Raleigh played host to the 2018 NC Wine and Grape Month Kickoff

By Dathan Kazsuk & Jennifer Primrose
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It's one of our favorite times of the year. Fall is approaching, and those dreaded days of the bombastic humid heat will soon to be left in the rear-view mirror. As we say goodbye to summer this month, we also say hello to NC Wine Month. What better time to drink local wine and hopefully inspire others to give it a shot as well. Remember, it's not all sweet muscadine. North Carolina produces a wide variety of wines, many of which are award-winning.

Related Story: N.C. wineries win awards in largest American-made wine competition

This year to kick off NC Wine Month, the Got to be NC Grape Counsel reached out to fellow NC bloggers, the NC Wine Guys, to put together an event to bring together both wineries, bloggers and industry alike to converge and taste some wine. You don't have to ask us twice! This last minute event, found its home at the historic Norris House in Raleigh on Aug. 28.

We arrived on this hot and humid August afternoon ready to network, taste and kickoff North Carolina's wine month. As we circulated the room we caught up with Jones von Drehle’s Diana Jones and chatted about how pleased we are to see their wines more and more in the Raleigh-area. We also caught up with Laurel Gray’s Kim Myers, who we just saw this past weekend at the Summer Whites event in Yadkin Valley. We finally had the pleasure of meeting in person fellow blogger, Dennis Turner, from WineryEscapades, as well catching up with Jessica Adams and Jessica Byrd from Wine Mouths.

NC Wine Guys and Whit Winslow, Executive Director of the NC Wine and Grape Council, 
kick off NC Wine Month.

Around 2 p.m., the NC Wine Guys kicked off the official program. One of the highlights of this event, now in its second year, is having Gov. Roy Cooper and agricultural commissioner Steve Troxler attend and kick-off the month in style. Unfortunately, this year schedules did not align and neither were able to attend. In their absence, NC Wine and Grape Council’s Executive Director, Whit Winslow, stepped in and read the official proclamation from the Governor to a group of about 50 attendees.

Whit Winslow 

Next, we all received our official Kickoff wine glasses and we were off to wine taste, nibble on charcuterie and network. With bread donated by LaFarm Bakery out of Cary and an assortment of meat and cheeses courtesy of the Norris House, this made for the perfect accompaniment to the wines we would be tasting.

The featured wineries in attendance included Biltmore Winery, Banner Elk Winery & Villa, Childress Vineyards, Cypress Bend Vineyards, Jones von Drehl Vineyards and Winery, Junius Lindsay Vineyard, Laurel Gray Vineyards, RayLen Vineyards and Sanctuary Vineyards.

We started our tour against the flow of traffic and wound up at Cypress Bend Vineyards. Known for its muscadine wines (something we're not fond of), head wine maker Nadia informed us that she's producing the grape the right way and not making it as sweet as what people are used to drinking. And she was right. Many of the wines were made in the dry-style and had us rethinking muscadine.

Next we stopped at Sanctuary Vineyards. There sales manager, Nick Beadles, went through a list of four wines he poured for us, ending with the winery's Double Barrel red blend – the wine that won the best in show in this year's NC Fine Wines competition.

Related Story: 2018 NC Fine Wines Competition Awards Results

Other stops among the historic home included Banner Elk where we tried the Marechal Foch, a French-American hybrid with soft tannins and flavors of plum and dark, ripe cherries. We also paid a visit to Childress Vineyards where we ran the gambit of its viognier, cabernet sauvignon and Starbound dessert wine. We talked with the owners of Junius Lindsay out of Lexington. We visited this winery a couple of years ago and look forward to visiting again in the near future. There we sampled the petite sirah and the Special Delivery. We continued on with the fabulous wines of Jones von Drehl, Laurel Gray and RayLen. All in all, we had a fantastic time and made new contacts and friends.

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