A Spotlight on Vermentino of the Swan Creek AVA

A Spotlight on Vermentino of the Swan Creek AVA

Our final feature in our series of lesser known grapes is a spotlight on Vermentino. As with our other spotlight features, you can find some great examples right here in North Carolina in the Swan Creek AVA.  We go into some detail about the grape itself and review six vintages from two North Carolina wineries.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Cypress Bend Vineyards

Cypress Bend Vineyards

We recently had to a chance to visit Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram, NC.  Cypress Bend is located near the Lumber River in Scotland County and opened in 2005.  Dan and Tina Smith are the owners.  The area is known as Riverton Farm and has been in the family since the early 1800s.  They have been featured on North Carolina Weekend and Flavor NC Presents From the Vineyard in North Carolina.


Cypress Bend Vineyards has around 35 acres under vine.  They exclusively grow muscadine.  Carlos is the predominate variety.  They also grow smaller amounts of Noble, Magnolia, Doreen, and Triumph. Grapes are usually harvested in mid to late September using a harvester.  Muscadines to do not grow in bunches like other grape species making a harvester the most efficient means of harvesting them.

Carlos makes white wines.  It’s bronze in color. Fruit grows to about half an inch in diameter.

Noble is a red variety.  Its fruit also grows to about half an inch in diameter.  Pressed juice is usually bright red in color.

Magnolia, Doreen, and Triumph are all white varieties.  The fruit is medium to large in size while the skins are bronze in color.  Doreen is noted for its football like shape.



Bottling Line at Cypress Bend Vineyards

Luckily for us, the day we visited was a bottling day.  Winemaker Nadia Hetzel was there overseeing the process.  She took some time to talk with us and take us on a tour.

While we don’t want to reveal all of Nadia’s approach, we will say that she strives to avoid the foxy notes that are often found in muscadine wines.  She has a few “secrets” to that.  One is the gentle pressing.  This leads to less bitterness.  Also, she uses a specific type of yeast.  We’ll leave you guessing on that one.  We believe this makes a difference in the wines.

As only modest fans of muscadine wine, we loved everything we tasted at Cypress Bend.  Nadia trained in Germany and has worked in several wine regions around the world.  She’s well versed, personable, and passionate about her job.  This seems to be a trait of everyone at Cypress Bend.


Wine Tasting

Carlos grapes at Cypress Bend Vineyards

After our tour and tasting, Nadia joined us in the tasting room to lead us through the tasting.  Here are our notes:

  • Christina’s Magnolia – This dry wine has a delicate nose with a palate that gives flavors of honey, pineapple and lemon.  The acidity is bright.
  • Riverton Estate – Made from Carlos, it gives a jammy muscadine nose with tart fruit and a clean finish.  This was our favorite wine.
  • Livy Estate – Named for Dan Smith’s grandfather, this semi-dry wine has a floral nose with flavors of pineapple and tart fruit.
  • Catherine – Named for the matriarch of the family, this semi-sweet wine has a light, delicate nose and drinks like a lightly sweet Riesling.  This would pair well with spicy Asian food.
  • Reminiscene – Slight effervescent and semi-sweet, this wine has had papaya and kumquat added.  This leads to floral orange blossom nose with lots of papaya and kumquat on the palate.
  • 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon – Made from North Carolina fruit and producing a leathery and dark red fruit nose, this wine has red currant and cocoa on the palate.
  • 2013 Malbec – Also made from North Carolina fruit, the nose shows dark currant and cocoa.  The currant continues on the palate with a touch of vanilla.  The tannins are soft.
  • Sundown – This semi-sweet wine made from Noble and Carlos has a jammy nose with hints of raspberry.  The palate provides more tart raspberry.
  • Isabel – A semi-sweet wine made from Magnolia, the nose is floral with a hint of ripe apple.  The palate is slightly sweet with flavors of apple and pineapple.
  • Sunburnt Boys – A wine with blueberry and grapefruit extract added, the nose is largely citrus.  The palate moves from lighter blueberry and jammy muscadine notes to a big grapefruit finish.
  • A Sweetheart Stream – Infused with pineapple and mango, the pineapple predominates on the nose with the mango in the background.  The palate begins with sweet pineapple and finishes with a hint of mango.

We highly recommend a visit to Cypress Bend.  Even if you’re not the biggest fan of muscadine, we feel confident you will find one you like.  And if you don’t, there’s also vinifera wines made from North Carolina grapes for you.  So, go see them!  Tell them we sent you!



Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
NC Wine Month 2017 Kickoff Photos

NC Wine Month 2017 Kickoff Photos

On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, the first ever North Carolina Wine and Grape Month kickoff event was held at The Pavilion at Childress Vineyards in Lexington.  North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper was on hand to sign the official Wine and Grape Month proclamation designating September as North Carolina Wine and Grape Month.  Below are some photos from that day.  We hope this event becomes an annual celebration of North Carolina Wine! Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Brock in NC Wine Month, Wine, 0 comments
Celebrating NC Wine & Grape Month 2017

Celebrating NC Wine & Grape Month 2017

September is North Carolina Wine and Grape month! It was proclaimed by Gov. Cooper to celebrate the wine and grape industry’s contributions to our state. With a $1.7 Billion economic impact, 525 grape growers and  more than 180 wineries, this industry is vital to our state. It deserves to be celebrated! Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Brock in NC Wine Month, Wine, 1 comment
Judging at 2017 NC State Fair Wine Competition

Judging at 2017 NC State Fair Wine Competition

We spent the weekend of August 18th-20th at the Shelton-Badgett Center for Viticulture and Enology at Surry Community College in Dobson, NC for the North Carolina State Fair Wine Competition.  This was our first time ever judging a wine competition.  We were honored to have been chosen to be part of the panel of judges which included media, bloggers, educators, and Certified American Wine Society Wine Judges. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
NC State Fair Wine Competition

NC State Fair Wine Competition

The North Carolina State Fair is held every October at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh.  Each year as part of the State Fair, a wine competition is also held.  There are two categories.  One is the Commercial Category.  The other is the Amateur Category.  Changes have been made to competition.  Let’s talk about the Commercial Category specifically! Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 1 comment