So, I finally got around to visiting a few more North Carolina wineries. Well, as bad as it may sound, credible wineries (so to speak) in the region. Before you start to contort your face and get a sour taste in your mouth, stick around and hear me out. You might be surprised by what I have to say. Before I get to that though, let’s chat a little about North Carolina as a wine region.
North Carolina Wine Region
According to my research, the North Carolina coast played host to the discovery of grapevines in America in 1584. It’s said that a couple of explorers laid eye on the land overflowing with grapes, but little did they know that the grapes were simply being consumed. Native Americans were unfamiliar with the processes of turning fruit into wine; therefore, they ate the grapes. Needless to say, the story continued, and today there are almost 200 North Carolina wineries. And oh… one more interesting fact, prior to prohibition North Carolina was the leading wine-producing region in the nation.
The Truth And Nothing But The Truth
A few weeks ago, a couple of wine-friends invited me to join them at Overmountain Vineyards, where we spent some time tasting the wines, enjoying the vineyard views, and chatting. Our journey for the day concluded just a stone’s throw away at Mountainbrook Vineyards in Tryon, NC.
First off, let me just clarify, I have been to a handful of other wineries in the region. The first, all of the wines were curated from grapes grown outside of North Carolina — technically disqualified (as far as I am concerned). Another of the wineries that I visited, the wines were far from being a quality product. Thus, my initial statement.
Don’t get me wrong; every state has its fair share of these types of wineries. And while I may share my thoughts, opinion, and experience, I will always refrain from mentioning their names in my post. I have unparalleled respect for the industry as a whole. But I genuinely believe that the whole truth is a crucial element in my story, so I strive not to tell half-truths (is that really a thing). I simply believe those types of wine businesses do more damage than good to a region’s industry.
Anyway, Overmountain Vineyard has a cozy tasting room with an expansive patio where customers can enjoy views of the property and the vineyard along with the wines. The winery is pet-friendly, in fact, they have a few of their own which roam freely throughout the tasting areas—two enormous Great Danes. The dogs were friendly, meandering to some tables seeking a bit of attention, but spent most of the time, snoozing on the patio.
One of the things that I really appreciated during our visit to this winery was the professionalism of the staff. The person pouring our wines was very pleasant, knowledgable, and accommodating. Being that it was my first visit to the winery, I wanted to know everything and take lots of photos, especially of the wine bottles. Often times, when visiting tasting rooms on weekends, you may not get the personalized service you desire. That was not an issue at all at Overmountain.
We visited on a Sunday, and although it was not packed with patrons, there was a healthy afternoon crowd. We chose the regular tasting ($15) followed up by a tasting of port, and a glass of their Rosé wine. The day of our visit Olive Catering food truck was on site. I enjoyed the spicy garlic shrimp with toasted crostini, which paired nicely with the winery’s 2017 Rosé.
Mountain Brook Vineyards
Mountain Brook Vineyards has an excellent selection of options for enjoying their wines—indoor seating, covered patio seating, and covered seating on the wrap-around deck. Inside there is a beautiful fireplace and outdoors a huge fire-pit for customers to gather. This winery is also pet-friendly and has a winery dog. Just off of the parking area are lovely vineyards; where of course we had to pause for a few quick photos.
We elected to enjoy the unexpected ideal weather on the deck—slight overcast, light breeze, and moderate temperature. We chose the Standard Tasting Flight ($12), which was generously comped by the winery at the end of our visit—thank you. Also, the tasting room offers an excellent selection of nibbles, and we opted for the Charcuterie Meat Platter, and an array of local cheese.
Mountain Brook was recently acquired by its new owners, Vickie and Jonathan, in May of 2018. The current owners are continuing the process of further development as a wine destination.
Both of these North Carolina wineries were legit, and each had some lovely tasting wines. So what’s the real deal? Why don’t more people know about the wines of the region? Admittedly, before moving to the state, I too had never tasted a North Carolina wine, although I have sampled tons of wines from so many other areas of the U.S., but why? Like so many lesser-known wine regions, barriers and misconceptions continue to plague North Carolina as a wine region. One of the most significant wine misconceptions is that it is all sweet.
Recently, I participated in a Twitter chat, and asked some questions surrounding the subject:
What would you say are your biggest barriers in the N.C. wine market?
Folks still don’t know that we have a thriving wine industry here. But we do! The economic impact is more than $1.7B!– NCWineGuys
My first response is that retailers find more convenience purchasing from the giant distributors instead of buying direct from local wineries or smaller regional distribution. Especially restaurants!Elkin Creek Vineyards
That seems to be a common theme in many lesser-known regions. But the big question is, how do you change the narrative to break those barriers?
A really good question, one with probably not an easy answer.Windsor Run Cellars
Exposure and getting more people to try them. Doing more events like this will help.NC Wine Guys
North Carolina produces a variety of wine, some of the most common include, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Viognier.
Exploring is one of the best ways of enjoying wine. Trips and sips in unfamiliar regions that lead to delectable undiscovered wines and winery destinations. If you are in the area, I encourage you to do some research on the regions wine destination and give some of the wines a try. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Here are my tasting notes for a few of the wines I tasted on my visit to Overmountain Vineyards and Mountain Brook Vineyards.
Overmountain Vineyards Revolutionary Red 2016
Flavors of bright red fruit, oak, vanilla, dried herbs, spice and hints of eucalyptus. This wine nicely balanced and had great structure: full body, pleasant acidity and pleasing tannins.
We purchased a bottle to take home and enjoy.
Blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot and 17% Petit Verdot
Price $30 per bottle
Overmountain Vineyards Red Table Wine
Notes of cherry, ripe berries, sweet tobacco, vanilla, and oak in the mouth. This wine is a fun, easy-drinking, everyday sip that can be accommodate as an overall crowd pleaser.
Price $24 per bottle
Mountain Brook Vineyards Riesling 2018
Flavors of honeysuckle crisp apples, jasmine and citrus. This wine was very refreshing on the palate, and paired nicely with the meats and cheesed we ordered.
Price $25 per bottle
For more information on Overmountain Vineyards, visit their website at www.overmountainvineyards.com.
For more information at Mountain Brook Vineyards, visit their website at www.mountainbrookvineyards.com
You can also visit NCWine.org for more information on the North Carolina wine region and North Carolina wineries and wines.