Grandfather Vineyard & Winery

Grandfather Vineyard & Winery

We recently had the opportunity to visit Grandfather Vineyard & Winery in Banner Elk, NC.  It had been a year or more since we had last visited.  It was good to taste again, take in the beautiful mountain scenery, and just relax!

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Grandfather is owned by Steve and Sally Tatum.  The Tatums live on the property.  They purchased the land where the winery and vineyard sit in 1998.  The first planting of wine grapes happened in 2003.  It should be noted that this was the first planting of wine grapes in the mountains of northwest North Carolina.  The Tatums’ son, Dylan, is the winemaker.  Dylan’s wife, Nicole, is the tasting room manager, so it’s a family run operation.  Fruit is sourced from the vineyard onsite, other area vineyards within the Appalachian High Country AVA, the Yadkin Valley AVA, and Lodi in California.


We were fortunate enough to have Nicole do our tasting.  She was very knowledgeable about the wines and let us sample pretty much what we wanted.  Here are our notes:

  • 2016 Pinot Gris – The nose was floral with a crisp minerality on the palate.
  • 2016 Vidal Blanc – An Appalachian High Country wine, pear, apple, and melon showed on the nose.  The palate was tart and crisp with light melon notes.
  • 2016 Vermentino – These grapes were sourced from California.  Lemon and cream greeted you on the nose.  The palate was classic Vermentino.
  • 2016 Viognier – A nose that was floral and peachy transitioned to a palate of grapefruit and lychee fruit.
  • 2016 Chardonnay – The wine was barrel aged in French and American oak.  A buttery nose continued on the palate with light oak.  It finished crisp and had 1% residual sugar.
  • 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé – Made from local and Willemette Valley, Oregon grapes, watermelon and strawberry showed on the nose and the palate.
  • 2015 Cabernet Franc – This wine was made North Carolina grown grapes.  Dark cherry, vanilla and bit of oak were the primary flavors.
  • 2014 ASU Scholar – A Yadkin Valley wine made with the Fermentation Sciences students from Appalachian State University, this was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.  Cherry and oak predominated on this wine.  We bought a bottle!
  • Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon – Made from fruit from local fruit, Yadkin Valley fruit & Lodi, California fruit, the nose showed rich cherry and currants and was slightly floral.  The palate had tart cherry, currants, and a light cedar note.
  • 2015 Marechal Foch – Blackberry and blueberry notes greeted you on the nose of this Appalachian High Country AVA wine.  The palate had a nice acidity with a bit of oak and spice.
  • Legacy Zinfandel – This was a classic Lodi, California Zin – jammy and smokey.
  • Tempranillo & Malbec – A blend of Tempranillo and Malbec from Lodi, California, this wine was a bit jammy with notes of cocoa, warm cherry, and vanilla.
  • 2016 Seyval Blanc – A Watauga County wine from the Appalachian High Country AVA, this wine had notes of apple, sweet honeysuckle, and mango.
  • 2016 Marquette – Served on draft, this Appalachian High Country AVA wine had notes of red currant, blackberry, and vanilla.  You can purchase a growler of this wine.
  • 2016 Merlot – Also served on draft and available for growlers, cherry predominated here.  It was a very nice Merlot.

Barrel Room at Grandfather Vineyard & Winery


Dylan was not available the day we visited, so Chris Denesha, one of the assistant winemakers, stepped in.  Chris is originally from the Sonoma, California.  He had stops in Spain and Southern Utah before coming to the High Country.  Chris started the tour in the vineyard just outside the tasting room.  He mentioned that Grandfather manages three other vineyards in the area and has 200 vines of Marquette planted just across the mountain from where we were standing.  Current plantings in the vineyard onsite are Chardonnay, Catawba, Marechal Foch, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir.  Locust posts in this terraced vineyard came from trees that once stood where the vineyard was planted.

After the vineyard, we made stops in the barrel room and the winery.  The barrel room has French, American, and Hungarian oak barrels.  Some are new.  Others have one or two years of use.  The winery is small.  It sits just behind the tasting room.  Fermentation Sciences students from Appalachian State University in Boone often work with the Grandfather staff on wines and ciders.

We wrapped us the tour and headed back into the tasting room to purchase wines and say goodbye to Nicole.  The next time you’re the High Country, be sure to stop by and check out Grandfather Vineyard & Winery.  Grab a bottle and relax by the gently following Watauga River.  Tell them we sent you!



Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 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!

Cheers!  And happy #NCWineMonth!  Celebrate with your favorite #NCWine!

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!

Official NC Wine & Grape Month 2017 Proclamation

So, how do you take part? We’re glad you asked! Here are a few of our ideas!

  • Visit a local winery. Go for a tasting or an afternoon picnic or both! Visit to plan your trip!
  • Buy local wine! Either at a local store or better yet, from the winery itself!
  • Drink local wine! Celebrate with your favorite bottle of North Carolina wine. Dry, sweet, red, white or rosé, there’s something for everyone out there!
  • Ask for local wine at restaurants and wine bars. It’s NC Wine Month! Encourage restaurants to do their part.
  • Encourage your friends and family to join in. There are plenty of folks leaving in NC who have know idea that we’re 10th in wine production in the country!
  • Talk about NC Wine on social media! Be sure to use the hashtags #NCWine and #NCWineMonth! Let’s get them trending!
  • Take a picture of what NC Wine you’re drinking! Share with us on Social Media! We’ll do our best to retweet or repost! Don’t forget the #NCWine and #NCWineMonth hashtags!
  • Follow us! We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Just search for @NCWineGuys. We’ll give you tips on where to go and what to drink!
  • Follow the official North Carolina Wine accounts on social media! Find them at “North Carolina Wine” on Facebook and @ncwines on Twitter and Instagram!
  • Help with harvest! Many local vineyards will be harvesting in September. Most of them harvest by hand with the help of volunteers. Go volunteer!

Let us know if you have other ideas!  Cheers!

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.

For an overview of the changes for this year’s competition go our previous blog post here.


Opening Reception

The weekend kicked off Friday night with an Opening Reception in Dobson.  This was our first visit to the Shelton-Badgett Center.  The building is absolutely beautiful.  Its decor is wine inspired.  From the “barrel stave” ceiling to the “wine bottle” lights overhead, the Grand Hall where we were located certainly set the mood.  The opening reception gave us a chance to meet the other judges, enjoy some North Carolina Wine, have some good food, and hear details of the competition.


Competition Breakdown

The competition was really six competitions.  The categories were:

  • Best Bunch Wine (Vinifera/Hybrids) – Amateur
  • Best Muscadine Wine – Amateur
  • Best Fruit/Honey Wine – Amateur
  • Best Bunch Wine (Vinifera/Hybrids) – Commercial
  • Best Muscadine Wine – Commercial
  • Best Fruit/Honey Wine – Commercial

Judges were divided into four groups.  Each group received a different set of wines.  Wines were judged on their own merits in flights of four to nine wines.  Thus wines were not compared to each other.  They were scored using the American Wine Society 20 Point Scale and rated for:

  • Appearance (Max of 3 points)
  • Aroma/Bouquet (Max of 6 points)
  • Taste (Max of 6 points)
  • Aftertaste (Max of 3 points)
  • Overall Impression (Max of 20 points)

For more information on this scale, go check out this video.

Medals were awarded as follows:

  • 18-20 Points:  Would you buy a bottle, keep in a cellar, and share with friends? – Gold
  • 15-17 Points – Would you buy a bottle and drink? – Silver
  • 12-14 Points – Would you have a glass? – Bronze

Double Golds were awarded to wines which received a Gold Medal rating from all judges in the panel.

2017 NC State Fair Wine Competition

Saturday Competition

Saturday morning kicked off around 9am with a wine to cleanse our palates.  Of course, the entire day was swishing and spitting.  We started with the amateur competition and finished that by midday.  The afternoon kicked off with commercial white bunch grape wines (vinifera and hybrids) for some tables.  Other tables started with rosés or even reds.  We did 5-7 flights that afternoon.  By the end of the day, our palates were tired.  We wrapped up around 5:45pm and headed for the hotel.


Saturday Night Dinner

Saturday evening we were bussed to dinner at Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards.  The evening was sponsored by the North Carolina Winegrowers Association and the North Carolina Muscadine Grape Association.  It included great food, great wine, and great company.  We loaded up the bus and headed back to the hotel to get ready for day two.


Sunday Competition

Sunday kicked off much like Saturday with a palate cleansing wine.  The morning was devoted to commercial muscadine wines and commercial fruit/honey wines.  This included 3-5 flights.  Around noon, we prepared for the “Best” awards.  The four panels collapsed to three panels.  Commercial wines came first.  We had been seated on different panels and remained so for the “Best” awards.  Thus we were able to judge the Fruit/Honey award and Bunch award.  Each judge ranked his/her top five wines in order.  The top three wines required a unanimous decision from the panel.  Once we completed the commercial “Best” awards, we moved on to the amateurs.  A similar process was used.


After verification of production to confirm winning wines used at least 75% of North Carolina fruit/honey, the “Best” awards and full results from the competition will be announced at on September 1, 2017.  We will share the results once they are publicly available.

We were truly honored to have participated in this key event of the wine industry in our state.  We saw old friends and met new ones.  We tasted a lot of wine which broadens our palates and will better prepare us as we continue our wine journey.


Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
NC Wine Month 2017 Kickoff Event

NC Wine Month 2017 Kickoff Event

September is North Carolina Wine Month!  For the first time ever, there will be a kickoff event to get things started!  We’ve been busy helping plan this event.  Here’s a rundown of the activities.

The kickoff event is geared toward North Carolina Media, Bloggers, and Wine Industry folks.  The goal is to profile North Carolina Wines from across the state and provide media and bloggers with information to use in stories, blog posts, and social media posts throughout the month of September.

The event will be held at the Pavilion at Childress Vineyards in Lexington on August 29th.  Registration will begin at 1pm with the event starting at 2pm.  Richard Childress is scheduled to kick things off with a welcome.  Richard will introduce Commissioner of Agriculture, Steve Troxler, who will make remarks.  Commissioner Troxler will then introduce Governor Roy Cooper.  Governor Cooper will make remarks.  Then he will sign the executive proclamation declaring September as North Carolina Wine and Grape Month and present the proclamation to Richard Childress.  Richard will thank the Governor and turn the event over to us!

We will make remarks of our own.  Then we will explain the tasting event that is about to take place.  A small group of wineries and two meaderies from across the state will participate the tasting event.  Wines will encompass the gamut from dry to sweet from vinifera to hybrids to muscadine to honey.  The following wineries are confirmed for the tasting event:

The tasting will be a “speed” tasting.  Guests will seated at tables through the Pavilion.  Wineries will be given five minutes with each table to pour and talk about their wine and their story.  After the five minutes, the wineries will move to the next table until every table has experienced all the wines.  Guests are encouraged to:

  • Swirl – Take a moment to swirl the wine in the glass to get some air into it.
  • Smell – Stick one’s nose right into the glass and sniff.
  • Sip – Take the wine into one’s mouth, swish it around,  and see how it tastes.
  • Spit – This is important as there will be several wines to taste.  We want this to be a safe event, and we want everyone to appreciate all of the wines!  Spit cups, dump buckets, and water will be provided on each table.
  • Post – Talk about the wines on social media!  We hope we’ll have several folks posting about EVERY wine!  And don’t forget those hashtags #NCWine and #NCWineMonth!

Following the conclusion of the tasting event, wineries from across the state will be available to talk with media and bloggers.

We hope this event becomes an annual one that will move around the state and feature different wineries every year.  Follow the conversation on social media using hashtags #NCWine and #NCWineMonth!


Posted by Joe Brock in NC Wine Month, 4 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!

The first change involves requirements for the entered wine to be at least 75% from North Carolina.  This means wines must be made from grapes, other fruit, or honey of which 75% came from North Carolina.  It is the North Carolina State Fair after all.  The product should reflect the terroir of North Carolina.  Winning wines will have their contents verified by the North Carolina Wine & Grape Council.

The second change is the winning categories.  The new categories are:

  • Best Bunch Grape Wine – This category is for wines made from Vitis Vinifera (wine grapes) and hybrids grapes.
  • Best Muscadine Wine – This category is for wines made from a variety of Muscadine grapes.
  • Best Fruit / Honey Wine – This category is for wines made from non-grape fruits or meads.

Wines will be judged blind using the 20 point American Wine Society scale.  Here’s a break down of the scoring:

  • Appearance – 3 points maximum
  • Aroma / Bouquet – 6 points maximum
  • Taste / Texture – 6 points maximum
  • Aftertaste – 3 points maximum
  • Overall Impression – 2 points maximum

Wines will be served at the correct temperature for each varietal.  Appropriate glassware will also be used as Riedel has graciously donated tasting glasses for the event.

The competition is moving this year.  In most years the competition is held in Raleigh.  This year the competition will be held in Dobson at Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture & Enology at Surry Community College.  The competition begins on Friday, August 18, 2017, with an opening reception and training for the judges.  Wine judging will take place Saturday and Sunday, August 19-20, 2017.

Speaking of judges, that’s where we come in!  We’re very excited to have been invited to judge this year’s competition.  Joining us will be American Wine Society Certified Wine Judges, other area bloggers, and area media.  Please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for a behind the scenes look at the competition.

Results of the competition will be posted on the NC State Fair‘s website and the NC Wine & Grape Council‘s website.  We’ll, of course, share the results when they are publicly available.

For more details about the competition, see the official rules here.

Thanks for your support of #NCWine!  Cheers!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 1 comment
June, 2017 Visit – Leicester, NC Wineries/Vineyards

June, 2017 Visit – Leicester, NC Wineries/Vineyards

We continue a look back at our mid-June wine visit to the Hendersonville / Asheville area.  Day Two took us northwest of Asheville to Leicester, NC.  Leicester is about 30 minutes from downtown Asheville.  It’s an easy and beautiful drive.  Located in Leicester are Fontaine Vineyards and Addison Farms Vineyard.

Fontaine Vineyards

Stunning View at Fontaine Vineyards

After several wrong turns, we made it to Fontaine Vineyards.  This was our first visit!  Google was a bit confused that morning and had us on a wrong road.  We were glad to finally see the main entrance.  As we drove up and around the vineyard we were awestruck by the view.  Mountains were all around.  The vineyard was small and quaint.


Jackie, co-owner with her husband Michel, quickly greeted us upon our arrival.  She gave us a quick overview of their story.  Fontaine is focused on growing European grapes (mostly French) and making small allotments of wine.  They also cater to those looking to get married and function several times a month as a wedding venue particularly in the warmer months.

Tastevin used for Tastings at Fontaine Vineyards

The tastings are done inside the wine cellar.  You won’t find a tasting glass here though.  Instead, Jackie presented us with a metal Tastevin from which to drink.  A tastevin is a metal saucer like cup.  Created by Burgundian winemakers to enable them to judge a wine for clarity and color in a dim wine cellar, the tastevin certainly made for a unique tasting experience.

We tasted the following wines:

  • 2016 Merlot – Dark cherry and plum greeted you on the nose and carried through to the palate.  This wine was somewhat jammy yet quite tannic.  We left with a bottle of this.
  • 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon – Soft cherry and black currant describe this wine well.  It also had some woodiness on the palate.
  • 2015 Riesling – A floral nose gave way to a fruity palate and just a touch of sweetness.  Soft and delicate also come to mind when describing this wine.


Ham & Cheese Crêpe at Fontaine Vineyards

Jackie and Michel make crêpes for their guests.  You can choose from savory or sweet.  We went the savory route and had a delicious ham and cheese crêpe while seated on the patio.  The crêpe was just as you would hope to find from a native French cook.  Jackie gladly poured us a glass of the yet to be release Pinot Noir Rosé.  It turned out to be our favorite wine.   The nose smelled of overripe strawberries while watermelon predominated the palate.  Sadly, we couldn’t take any with us.

As we finished out our glass, Jackie pointed out that in the distance you could see Addison Farms and clearly a storm headed that way.  We wrapped up our visit in hopes of making it to Addison Farms before the storm did.

Addison Farms Vineyard

Addison Farms Road Sign

Addison Farms is only about five minutes away from Fontaine.  However, we did not beat the storm.  Luckily, the rain was not heavy, so we ventured inside.


We began our tasting with a couple of unique wines from Alchemy Herbal Wine.  These wines are meads made with honey, herbs, and spices.  Griffin Abee, the meadmaker, works with the fine folks at Addison Farms.  We encourage you to try these refreshing and unique wines!

Alchemy Herbal Wine – Love

Here are our notes for the herbal wines:

  • Love – This mead is made with honey (of course), pomegranate juice, rose petals, ginger, cardamon, vanilla, and damiana.  A floral nose with hints of ginger and cardamon gave way to a slightly sweet and refreshing palate with just a hint of tartness.
  • Prosperity – This mead is made with honey, cinnamon, clove, star anise, nutmeg, and allspice.  The nose gave spices with a bit of a woodiness and a good smell of honey.  The palate was tart and woody as well.  We enjoyed both of these.

We then moved on to Addison Farms’ wines to finish the tasting.  Here are our notes:

  • 2015 Crown & Plough Rosé of Sangiovese – We loved this wine.  We came home with a bottle.  A strawberry nose with strawberry and raspberry on the palate make for a delightful rosé.  The palate is also slightly tart with good acidity.
  • 2013 Mischief – Tempranillo – Vanilla, leather, cherry, and a touch of caramel show both on the nose and on the palate.  Pair this with lighter Spanish dishes.
  • 2014 Five Twenty-Nine – Barbera – We adore Barbera and this one is one of the best in NC.  It was part of the NC Fine Wines Case for 2017.  Cocoa and black currant invite you on the nose.  Warm cherry with more cocoa and black currant carry through on the palate.
  • 2013 Coming Home – Cabernet Sauvignon – Notes of pepper and spice show on the nose.  Tart cherry with some leather present on the palate.
  • Smokehouse Red – This is a blend of Chambourcin and Sangiovese.  Cocoa and cherry scents greet you on the nose.  The cherry continues on the palate along with vanilla, caramel, and slight hit of smoke.
  • Gratitude – This port-style wine is made from Chambourcin.  Mocha and raspberry are key descriptors here.  When paired with dark chocolate notes of caramel appear.

Tour with Jeff

Jeff Frisbee, co-owner along with his wife Dianne, arrived in the Tasting Room during our tasting.  He was supposed to give a tour at 2pm, but the tour folks were no shows.  Luckily for us, that meant we got the tour with just ourselves and Jeff.  Also, luckily, the rain had stopped.  We headed out for a walk to the the winery.

Addison Farms is very much a family operation.  Jeff and Dianne started this vineyard as a way to preserve Jeff’s family’s farm which once belonged to his maternal grandparents.  The first acre of vines was planted in 2009.  Another acre and a half was planted in 2010.  Currently, six acres are under vine.  Cabernet Sauvignon was the first planted.  Also, in the vineyard are Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Montepulicano, Petit Verdot, and Petit Manseng.  In addition, they manage two additional acres in Leicester and purchase fruit from other North Carolina growers.

Vineyards at Addison Farms

After the visit to the winery where Jeff walked us through crush, we head to the vineyard.  Jeff strives to make food friendly wines and makes his picking decisions based on acid rather than Brix. He produces around 1000 cases a year.  The business plan calls for having 10 acres under vine.  He says Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc are the easiest to deal with in the vineyard.

Barrels in the Barrel Room at Addison Farms

We ended our tour in the barrel room which sits under the tasting room.  The barrel room has space for 50-60 barrels while another 25 or so are in the winery itself.

We finished the tour and returned to the tasting room to make our purchases and say our goodbyes.

The next time you’re in the Asheville area, be sure to carve out time to visit Leicester and these unique vineyards.  Tell them we sent you.

You can find details of our day one adventures to Burntshirt Vineyards and Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards on our blog.  Cheers!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
June, 2017 – Visit to Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards

June, 2017 – Visit to Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards

We continue a look back at our mid-June wine visit to the Hendersonville / Asheville area.  Our second stop was Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards.

Saint Paul Mountain is located in Hendersonville.  Luckily for us, it’s also near our first stop of the day, Burntshirt Vineyards.  This made for a quick trip.

As we drove by the old family barn, the future home of Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Ciders, we saw a bustle of activity and hoped to be able to get a tour of the progress.  We parked at Saint Paul Mountain just as Barbara, the tasting room manager, was about to leave.  Luckily for us, she stopped when she saw us.  We chatted for a bit and then started walking over to the barn.


Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Ciders

Appalachian Ridge is a new cider bar that will be opening soon.  Not only will it have artisan hard ciders, it will also have some artisan spirits including their take on Calvados, an Apple Brandy.  We toured the main bar area upstairs.  Then we went downstairs to see some private rooms that have been created from old stables.  Finally, we headed back outside to the new deck.  The large deck contains a full covered bar and has a beautiful view of the orchard.

Hundreds of newly planted apple tree from Normandy

The orchard itself is undergoing a bit of transformation with the addition of hundreds of apple trees from Normandy.  Like vinifera grape vines, these European apple trees are grafted onto American rootstock to allow them to thrive in the North Carolina soil.

The restoration of the barn and the changes since our last visit are amazing.  Keep your eyes out for the Grand Opening announcement.  You won’t want to miss it!


Tasting with Fran

We finally reached the tasting room and took a seat.  We were glad to find our favorite band teacher / wine taster working that day.  We met Fran a couple of years ago at the North Carolina Winegrowers Association Conference.  Fran has a bubbly personality and quick wit that will keep you in stitches.  She lead us through a full tasting.  Below are some of our notes.

White Wines and Dry Cider

  • 2015 Chardonnay – This stainless steel aged Chardonnay presented crisp and clean with notes of apple and pineapple.
  • 2015 Barrel Aged Chardonnay – This Chardonnay spent 10 months in French oak.  It had a buttered apple nose with notes of apple, pear, and light oak on the palate.
  • 2015 Vidal Blanc – This wine had a nice acidity with notes of orange and lemon along with tart green apple.
  • 2015 Laurel Hill – This is also a Vidal Blanc, but it has just a touch (2%) of residual sugar.  The nose showed pure orange peel.  The palate gave Meyer lemon and key lime.
  • 2016 Centennial Farm Heritage – This dry Riesling had a classic Riesling nose with a hint of petrol, commonly found with Riesling.  The palate presented big grapefruit.  Nicely tart, this was our favorite white.
  • 2016 Lower Vineyard – Another Riesling but this one had just a touch of residual sugar (1.5%).  The nose was floral with lots of citrus.  The flavors of sweet peach and honeysuckle predominated.
  • 2015 Rosarie – This slightly effervescent rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon had notes of strawberry and a hint of caramel.
  • Wallace #1 Artisan Hard Cider – The original hard cider produced by Saint Paul Mountain is made from seven different varieties of apple with strong apple flavors from nose to palate.

Red Wines

  • 2015 Queen – A Cabernet Franc which spent 6 months in oak, presented cherry and vanilla on the nose with cherry flavors carrying through to the palate.
  • 2014 Chestnut East Reserve – A red blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petite Sirah, leather and oak showed on the nose.  The palate had flavors of cherry, plum, and caramel.  This was our favorite wine overall.
  • Jasper – Another red blend but this one has Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.  Notes of plum, vanilla, and cherry showed on the nose.  The cherry and vanilla carried over the palate with a smooth finish.
  • 2013 Petit Verdot – This was another favorite of the reds.  With a caramel nose and smooth dark plum on the palate, it kept us wanting more.

Dessert Wines

  • Chestnut Gap Cottage – Our first dessert wine and made from 100% blackberries.  It showed those blackberries from nose to palate.  The pairing with dark chocolate just intensified the blackberry flavor.
  • Home Place – This is another 100% blackberry wine, but unlike the previous one, this one has been back-sweetened.  The blackberry was more pronounced on the nose than the Chestnut Gap Cottage and obviously the palate was more sweet.
  • Vin Chocolate Du Barrista – This was our favorite dessert wine.  The wine begins with a Merlot base that is infused with coffee, white chocolate, and vanilla.  Coffee predominates on the nose.  The palate is a playful dance between coffee and cherry.

Visit with Alan

Following our tasting with Fran, we took a minute to visit with Alan Ward.  He is the owner and visionary of both Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards and Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Ciders.   We discussed a variety of wine, cider and spirit topics.  Alan has a great vision for growing his business and the North Carolina Wine, Cider, and Spirits industry.  Those industries are fortunate to have someone like Alan!

Vineyards outside Saint Paul Mountain’s Tasting Room

We said our goodbyes and headed to the see Fran once more to purchase some wine to take back with us.  This concluded our day in Hendersonville, and we headed for Asheville.  Stay tuned next week for the final blog on this trip!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
June, 2017 –  Visit to Burntshirt Vineyards

June, 2017 – Visit to Burntshirt Vineyards

In mid-June, we planned a weekend getaway.  We headed to the Hendersonville / Asheville area.  The trip allowed us to relax, visit a “new to us” winery, and revisit other wineries in the area.  Here are some of the highlights from our visit to Burntshirt Vineyards, our first stop of the weekend.

After we parked, André, the new general manager at Burtshirt, promptly greeted us.  He then took us inside to get started on our tasting.  Burntshirt always treats the blogging community as honored guests.  They’re so hospitable and accommodating.


We began our tasting with the 2015 Grüner Veltliner.  Burntshirt is possibly the only vineyard growing and producing a standalone varietal from Grüner.  The tart apple notes with a bit of peach made for a refreshing start to our tasting.  We then moved on to the 2016 Vidal Blanc followed by the 2013 O Cellars Reserve Chardonnay.

Next, we moved to red wines and started with the 2014 O Cellars Reserve Cabernet Franc.  We followed that with the 2015 O Cellars Reserve Heritage and the 2015 O Cellars Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  We finished with the 2014 Apple wine.

Our favorite was the Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon with Petit Verdot making up the other 14%.  It had been aged nearly 2 years in 75% new French Oak.  It presented notes of tobacco, cocoa, leather and dark cherry.  This cab finished even and smooth!  We left with a bottle.

The Horse Barn at Burntshirt Vineyards


Following our tasting André took us on a little tour of the grounds.  We saw gardens, the Vintner’s Cottage (which you can rent for an overnight stay), and the Shed (where you can find unique gifts).  We particularly enjoyed the visit to the Horse Barn which has been refurbished into an event space.

Our next stop on the tour was the winery itself.  There we met Preston, Burntshirt’s new winemaker.  Preston took us on a little tasting tour.  We sampled white wines from the tank.  These wines were used in a white wine blending event that was held at the end of June.  We tasted through the 2016 Vidal Blanc, 2016 Chardonnay, and 2016 Traminette.  All were vibrant and crisp with good acidity.

We then moved on to reds.  First, we tasted a free run 2016 Merlot from the tank.  It had big oak notes with plum and caramel.  Finally, we moved to the crush pad were we sampled the 2016 Merlot again straight from the barrel.  It showed more fruity and light then the free run merlot.

As a side note, free run is the juice that flows during crushing and de-stemming but just before pressing.  Typically free run juice is combined with pressed juice for the final product.

Wine Barrels at Burntshirt Vineyards

We thanked Preston for the tour of the winery and André for being such a gracious host.  We made our purchases and headed on to our next stop.

If you haven’t visited Burntshirt, please plan a visit!  You won’t be disappointed.  Tell them we sent you! Cheers!


Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
A Spotlight on Petit Manseng in North Carolina

A Spotlight on Petit Manseng in North Carolina

Continuing with our series of bringing lesser known grapes into the spotlight, we take a deeper look at Petit Manseng. This small cluster and small berry grape make a very interesting wine that most people have never heard of. This grape has great potential here in North Carolina and there are already a few vineyards who have jumped on the Petit Manseng bandwagon. One of which is Jones von Drehle Vineyards & Winery in the Yadkin Valley.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments