In the Wine Light

In an effort to provide more content to our readers, we’re introducing a new regular feature to our website called “In the Wine Light”. The aim to provide regular wine related content in short posts.

With “In the Wine Light” we will discuss a variety of wine related topics from grape varieties to wine styles to wine and food pairings to wine holidays and more! We’ll also feature the people and places of the local wine scene here in North Carolina.

Let us know what you would like to see In the Wine Light!

#InTheWineLight

In the Wine Light – American Viticultural Areas

In the Wine Light – American Viticultural Areas

AVAs for North Carolina

American Viticultural Areas in North Carolina

In the Wine Light is a new series on American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) with a particular focus on the six AVAs in North Carolina.  Over the next few months, we’ll dive into each of these six North Carolina AVAs.

But we’ll start with what is an AVA.  The Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is the government agency charged with approving and designating new AVAs.  Per their website:

An American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is a specific type of appellation of origin used on wine labels. An AVA is a delimited grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions and affect how grapes are grown. Using an AVA designation on a wine label allows vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wines to consumers and helps consumers identify wines they may purchase.

So, an AVA is a designated grape-growing region within the United States that has specific geographic features or a unique climate that distinguishes it from other grape growing regions.  Our AVAs are similar to appellation designations in France (AOC/AOP) and Italy (DOC/DOCG) although not as stringent.  For example, American AVAs don’t restrict what grapes can be grown in a given AVA .

An AVA designation allows winemakers to taut the unique terroir of a particular region. Some AVAs come with a level of prestige allowing wines to claim higher selling prices.  A wine with an AVA designation must be made of at least 85% of the grapes in the wine having been grown within the AVA.

According to the TTB’s website, to establish a new AVA, you must have these three things:

  1. A proposed name, as well as evidence showing that the name is currently used to describe the region of the proposed AVA.
  2. A description of the geographic and/or climatic features that distinguish the proposed AVA from the surrounding regions and have an effect on how grapes are grown, along with evidence to support your claims of these distinctive features.
  3. A written description of the proposed AVA boundary and the appropriate U.S.G.S topographic maps with the boundary drawn on it.

The petition undergoes a lengthy review and approval process sometimes taking years.

What would you like to know about AVAs in North Carolina?  Leave us a comment.

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #AVA

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – A Look Ahead for 2021

In the Wine Light – A Look Ahead for 2021

Happy New Year 2021

In the Wine Light is a look ahead at North Carolina Wine for 2021.  Let’s be honest.  2020 was a dumpster fire of a year.  From COVID-19 to the late spring frosts and freezes that wiped out many spring grape buds and flowers to the seemingly never ending rain, 2020 was a year that we and probably most of the local wine industry is happy to forget.

With the new year, comes the hope of better opportunities and experiences.  Here are few things we’re looking forward to for North Carolina Wine in 2021:

2021 > 2020

  • Improvement of the COVID-19 pandemic.  We missed regularly visiting wineries in 2020.  We hope the pandemic improves which will allow us to visit more often, taste more often, and share more about North Carolina wine.
NC Wine Guys Present Cork Talk

NC Wine Guys Present Cork Talk

  • Season 3 of Cork Talk.  We look forward to bringing you more interviews from winery and vineyard owners, grape growers, winemakers and other industry folks this year.  And Jessica and Jesse from The Wine Mouths will be back to share more wine knowledge, but we would love to hear from about what we should cover.  Head here to take our survey.

Support Local #NCWine

  • Growing our Support Local North Carolina Wine Facebook group.  We started this group in 2020, but we really want to see it take off in 2021.  Head to Facebook and join via this link.

2021 #NCWine Digital Media Summit

  • An In-Person #NCWine Digital Media Summit.  We’ve decided to rename the #NCWine Bloggers Summit to be more inclusive.  The 2020 version was virtual and the 2021 summit may be as well.  Look for more information in the coming months.
  • More 2019 wines to taste, buy, and enjoy.  2019 was a stellar growing season in much of North Carolina.  A number of 2019 whites and rosés have been released as well as a few 2019 reds.  2021 should bring more of them.
  • More sparkling wines and rosés.  Sparkling wines and rosés continue to be popular.  We look forward to more of these appearing in tasting rooms and on store shelves in 2021.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?  Leave us a comment!

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #2021 #NewYear

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – Festivus 2020 – Airing of Wine Grievances!

In the Wine Light – Festivus 2020 – Airing of Wine Grievances!

In the Wine Light today, December 23, 2020, is the celebration of Festivus.  Created in 1966 by Daniel O’Keefe and popularized during an episode of the hit TV show, Seinfeld, Festivus is celebrated with Feats of Strength and the Airing of Grievances.  So, in that spirit, we’re back for the fourth year to air a few wine grievances.  This is our one post a year that’s not entirely positive.  Many of these grievances are the same as last year, but there are a few new ones and some updates.  So, sit back.  Pour a glass and read on!

These are in no particular order:

COVID-19 Meme

  • COVID-19.  Ok, so there is an order at least for #1.  COVID-19 is at the top of our list.  While, thankfully we’re well.  Our families are well.  COVID has seriously cramped our style.  It’s kept us in and kept our wine tasting to a minimum.  And we’re certainly sad for those who have lost loved ones, jobs, and more due to the pandemic.  Here’s hoping COVID doesn’t make the list in 2021.

Wear a Mask

  • Folks who carrying on in 2020 like the pandemic doesn’t exist.  We’ve kept a lower profile in 2020, so our visits to wineries and vineyards have been less than usual.  When we have visited, a number of the visits have been safe and socially distanced.  Folks were wearing masks and staying away from others, but there have been a few occasions where masks were few and far between and personal space was not respected.  Just be mindful of others when you’re out.  And be respectful.  And wear a mask when you’re not eating or drinking!

  • Lack of hashtags in posts on social media about wines, wineries, vineyards.  You see we’re big proponents of hashtags as a way to brand.  So, all you #NCWine folks out there, USE THE DANG HASHTAG!
  • Too many hashtags or using hashtags that don’t apply.  This still gets on our nerves.  You don’t need 14 million hashtags on your post especially if they’re hashtags no one else uses.  And just because you’re drinking wine in a given region, that doesn’t make it a regional wine.  So, don’t post about the Apothic Red you’re drinking in Charlotte and call it #NCWine.  Wine is about a sense of place.  Apothic Red’s place is not in your wine glass.

  • Poor tasting glasses.  We’re still glass snobs.  Please no glasses with the “lip” around the rim.  These just don’t show wines well.  Upgrade the glass and the experience!

Just say no to stemless wine glasses

  • Stemless glasses.  Some people love them.  We hate them.  You’re constantly hold your glass by the bowl and then warming the wine with your hand which can then affect the taste.  Stick with a stemmed glass which brings us to our next grievance.

The Incorrect & Correct Way to Hold a Wine Glass

  • Holding a wine glass improperly.  You should hold the glass by the stem.  We did a whole blog post about it.

  • Too many wines on the list.  We see this all the time.  Wines lists with 10, 15 or even 20 wines.  We feel this is just too many to be able to focus on quality unless you have a large production staff.  So, scale it back.  You don’t need a new wine for every season.
  • “Fruited” wines.  We’re still wondering why do we need pomegranate, green apple, cranberry, cherry, pineapple and umpteen other fruits added to our perfectly fruity grape wines?  Wine grapes produce wines with an abundance of fruit flavors. Let the grapes speak for themselves.  And if you want a fruit wine, then just make it from fruit.

  • Wine slushies.  Seriously, why is this still a thing?  Ok, maybe in the summer then it’s 95 degrees and 10,000% humidity, but wine is already extra calories, do you really need all that extra sugar?

  • Children in at wineries and vineyards especially during a pandemic.  It’s sad that this is still an issue.  This is our #2 grievance (behind COVID) if we had to rank them.  Children can’t drink.  Don’t bring them with you to a winery.  Wining is an adult thing and many of us wish to adult in peace and quiet.  But, please bring your well behaved dogs and cats.  We love pets!

  • Parties of 6 or more in tasting rooms who have not called ahead especially during a pandemic.  This is annoying for tasting room staff and other customers.  If you’re in a group, be courteous!  Call ahead!  And given, the pandemic, it’s not wise to be gathering in big groups anyway.  Save those for later in 2021 or 2022.

  • Farm to fork restaurants who don’t have local wine on their lists.  This is probably #3 on our grievance list right after the kids at wineries.  Don’t call yourself a farm to fork locavore restaurant if you don’t have local wine on this list.  There’s just no excuse!  And make those wines available for pick up for those who don’t want to eat inside a restaurant right now.

So, that’s our list for this year.  And keeping with this theme, leave us your comments of what’s your grievances are.  Just avoid personal attacks.

Cheers and Happy Festivus for the rest of us!

#InTheWineLight #Festivus

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – Mulled Wine and Cider

In the Wine Light – Mulled Wine and Cider

In the Wine Light and just in time for the holidays is Mulled Wine and Cider!

Mulled Wine and Cider are always favorites in the cooler months of the year.  We often serve Mulled Wine during the holidays or on days with wintry weather.  We have gone through several iterations of recipes.  Most have been made just using red wine as a base with bit of bourbon.  A few years ago, we found a recipe that incorporated wine, cider, bourbon and tawny port.  We have played with it a bit and would like to share it with you.

If you are looking for a warm mulled drink that is just slightly sweet, give this recipe a try.  If you would like a sweeter version, you could always add honey or brown sugar to taste or start with a sweeter wine.

Start with spices.  You will need cardamom, whole cloves, star anise, whole black peppercorns, whole allspice, cinnamon sticks, and a whole nutmeg.

Crack the cardamom pods.  Toast the cracked cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice berries in a skillet for just a few minutes.  Two – three minutes is all you need.  Stir constantly to prevent burning. The smell will be divine!

Next, make your cheesecloth bundle with sliced ginger, orange peel, and your toasted spices.  Secure with butcher’s twine.

In your slow cooker, pour in your liquid ingredients including the juice of half an orange.  Stir.

Add your cheesecloth bundle, cinnamon sticks, and sprig of rosemary.  Heat on low for two hours.  Then remove cheesecloth and sprig of rosemary.  Grate fresh nutmeg.  Stir.  Heat on low another two hours.  Remove cinnamon sticks and turn setting to warm.  Serve warm.

Here is the full recipe:

INGREDIENTS

3 Whole Star Anise

5 Whole Green Cardamom Pods, Cracked

1 Teaspoon Whole Cloves

1 Teaspoon Whole Allspice Berries

½ Teaspoon Whole Black Peppercorns

1 Teaspoon Grated Orange Peel

1.5” Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Sliced Thinly

2 cups Apple Cider

1 bottle Dry Red Wine

1 cup Tawny Port

¼ cup Bourbon

Juice of ½ an Orange

6” Sprig of Rosemary

3 Cinnamon Sticks

Freshly Grated Nutmeg

4 Quart Slow Cooker

Cheesecloth

Butcher’s Twine

METHOD

  1. Heat small non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Once the skillet is hot, add Star Anise, Cardamon, Cloves, Allspice, and Black Peppercorns.
  3. Toast for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  4. Place toasted spices in cheesecloth along with Grated Orange Peel and Ginger.
  5. Secure with Butcher’s Twine.
  6. Pour wine, cider, port, and bourbon into slow cooker.
  7. Add cheesecloth bundle, rosemary sprig, and cinnamon sticks.
  8. Stir.
  9. Set slow cooker to low.
  10. Heat for 2 hours.
  11. Remove rosemary and cheesecloth bundle.
  12. Grate a dash or two of fresh nutmeg.
  13. Stir.
  14. Continue to heat on low for another hour or two. 
  15. Remove cinnamon sticks.
  16.  Set slow cooker to Warm until ready to serve.
  17. Serve warm.

#InTheWineLight #MulledWine #MulledCider

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, Wine, 1 comment
In the Wine Light – Cabernet Franc Day

In the Wine Light – Cabernet Franc Day

In the Wine Light is Cabernet Franc Day.  This wine holiday is celebrated annually on December 4th.

According to the Cab Franc Day website, Cabernet Franc is believed to have been established in the Libournais region of southwest France sometime in the 17th century, when Cardinal Richelieu transported cuttings of the vine to the Loire Valley.  December 4th is the anniversary of Cardinal Richelieu’s death which is why we celebrate Cab Franc Day on that date.

Cabernet Franc is also the parent grape of at least three other Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carménère. It is also the parent to an obscure Spanish variety known as Hondarribi Beltza found mostly in the Basque Country.

In addition to its native Basque region in France, Cab Franc is planted elsewhere in France in Bordeaux and most famously in the Loire Valley.  There are also significant plantings in the Italy, Spain, Chile, and the US.

Cabernet Franc has gained a large footing on the East Coast of the US.  It’s popular in the Finger Lakes and on Long Island in New York as well as Virginia.  Cab Franc continues to gain footing in North Carolina as well.  It’s one of our favorite varieties and pairs wonderful with North Carolina BBQ, either Lexington-Style or Eastern-Style.  

One of the largest planting of Cabernet Franc in North Carolina is the six acres at RayLen Vineyards in Mocksville.  We reached out to winemaker Steve Shepard for some thoughts on growing Cab Franc in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. Steve tell us, “Cab Franc has been a work horse for us in that we utilize it in many ways.”

RayLen 2019 Rosé of Cabernet Franc

Steve goes on to tell us that RayLen’s vineyard is planted with 3 of the highest rated French clones, 214, 327, and 312. He gave us more detailed information on each clone:

  • Clone 214 is known to express raspberry and violet flavors and recommended not to exceed more than 50% of the planting.  
  • Clone 327 recommended not to exceed 30% of the planting as it produces structured and powerful wines.  Our block is 52% clone 214 and 48% clone 327.  The fruit from these clones are used to produce Cab Franc varietal, and in blends Carolinius, Category 5, Eagle Select.
  • Clone 312 is known as a higher yielding than average so it sets the stage for a Rose.  Our Cab Franc Rose is produced from this block, clone 312.
RayLen 2018 Cabernet Franc

RayLen 2018 Cabernet Franc

Steve mentions that “Generally, Cab Franc in the vineyard preforms better than most other vinifera reds.”  It is more tolerant of heat, wet and disease.  In the winery, on bountiful years, Steve is able to separate the clones throughout the aging process before he establishes the final blend.  He says, “It’s interesting to note the unique characteristics of each and how they knit together.”

In addition to RayLen’s Cabernet Franc varietal, Cab Franc based blends, and Cab Franc rosé, there are many other delightful Cabernet Francs in the state.  Just a few of our favorites include (but not limited to) Cab Francs from Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery, Laurel Gray Vineyards, South Creek Vineyards and Winery, Hanover Park Vineyard, Burntshirt Vineyards, and Childress Vineyards.

Do you have a favorite Cabernet Franc?  How are you celebrating?

#CabFrancDay #CabernetFrancDay #InTheWineLight

 

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – Sami the Wine Cat

In the Wine Light – Sami the Wine Cat

Sami excited about new wines from Défi Wines by Botanist & Barrel

Sami excited about new wines from Défi Wines by Botanist & Barrel

In the Wine Light is our sweet wine cat, Sami.  Long time followers know Sami as our little photo bomber in our wine photos.  It started by accident, but now, we do try to get her in the shot.  Her fans are sometimes concerned if she’s missing from the photo.

Sami the Wine Cat Relaxing

Sami relaxing before dinner

You’re probably wondering why we’re celebrating Sami this week.  Well, you see, we celebrate Sami’s birthday on November 17th.  We don’t actually know when her birthday is or even how old she is exactly.  Sami is a rescue kitty.  She was saved by the Saving Southern Kitties from a high kill shelter in Greenville, South Carolina.  Her vet records listed November 17th as her birthday, but that might just be the day she was pulled from the shelter.

Sami the Wine Cat loves her boxes

Sami loves her boxes especially when they’re from Chewy.

Saving Southern Kitties is a terrific non-profit organization run by our dear friend, Susan, working to save cats from high kill shelters in the Carolinas.  Based in the Charlotte area, this volunteer organization is top notch and does fantastic work.  Visit their website to find out how to volunteer, donate money, purchase fun kitty merchandise, or see their list of adoptable cats.

Sami the Wine Cat relaxing on the couch

Sami doing on her favorite things – relaxing on the couch

Sami is sweet, a little crazy, and VERY loud.  She always has something to say.  Sami loves laying the sun, sleeping under her blanket on the couch for hours, cardboard boxes, and sitting outside on the patio with her humans.  She adds such joy to our lives.  We hope she has a very happy birthday and a PURR-fect day!

#InTheWineLight #SamiTheWineCat

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – International Merlot Day

In the Wine Light – International Merlot Day

Merlot Growing at Laurel Gray Vineyards

Merlot Growing at Laurel Gray Vineyards
Photo provided by Kim Myers, Co-Owner, Laurel Gray Vineyards

In the Wine Light is International Merlot Day.  This wine holiday is celebrated annually on November 7th.

Merlot is one of the most widely planted and noble wine grapes in all the world.  It typically is one of first red grapes to bud break, so it sometimes has issues with the late spring frosts we see here in North Carolina.  Due to the earlier bud break, it’s often one of the first red grapes to be harvested.

Merlot hails from Bordeaux and is an offspring of Cabernet Franc making it a sibling to Cabernet Sauvignon, Carménère, and Malbec.  It wasn’t until around 2009 that Merlot’s other parent was discovered via DNA testing.  This obscure variety, Merlot’s mother, is formally known as Magdeleine Noire des Charentes.

Sales of Merlot increased in the 1990s along with other red wines following the airing of the 60 Minutes segment on the French Paradox.  Then sales fell nearly 2% following the release of the 2004 movie Sideways which unfairly degraded Merlot.  Merlot has since made a comeback.

Baby Jack Loves Laurel Gray Merlot

Even babies love merlot! This is Baby Jack with merlot from Laurel Gray Vineyards in 2007. These grapes made a 100% estate wine that later won Best in Show at the NC State Fair Wine Competition.
Photo provided by Kim Myers, Co-Owner, Laurel Gray Vineyards

Merlots are often known for being full bodied with medium tannins.  Classic flavors are black cherry, raspberry, and plum.

There are many delightful Merlots in the state.  Just a few of our favorite include (but not limited to) Merlots from Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery, Laurel Gray Vineyards, South Creek Vineyards and Winery, and McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks.

What do you like about Merlot?  How are celebrating this iconic variety?

#MerlotDay #InTheWineLight

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – Wine Styles for Fall

In the Wine Light – Wine Styles for Fall

In the Wine Light is wine styles for fall.  We don’t know about you, but fall is our favorite season.  Those warms days and cool nights are a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of the long Carolina summer.  

With the change of seasons comes a change in the wines we drink.  Here are some of the favorite kinds of wines we like to enjoy as the days get shorter and the leaves turn their brilliant colors.

Linn Cove Viaduct

Linn Cove Viaduct around Grandfather Mountain along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Rosés – Rosés are typically associated with the warm days of spring and the sweltering hot days of summer, but rosé is also perfect for Fall.  Whether it’s a warm afternoon in the sun or with your Thanksgiving dinner, rosé is always a perfect pairing.

Sparkling Wine – We’re big fans of sparkling wine anytime of year.  Fall is often about celebration with Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Bubbles are a perfect way to start any celebration or a Tuesday night dinner.

Full Bodied and/or Oaked Whites – As the days get cooler it’s usually good to move from those crisp and cold wines of summer into a more full bodied white wine.  Think Petit Manseng or Viognier.  Add a little oak such is in a nice Chardonnay and you have the perfect pairing with fall foods featuring butternut squash or pumpkin.

Light Reds – Light Oaked or No Oak – The weather can still be quite warm in fall and the food typically isn’t as heavy as in winter, so it’s the perfect time for light reds whether they be oaked or not.  Think a Loire Valley Style Cabernet Franc or a nouveau style wine.  A drier muscadine, Chambourcin or Sangiovese are also good choices.

Cider – Who doesn’t love a good fresh apple in fall?  So, why not enjoy a nice cider?  Many apples can pack some good tannins, so ciders can be heftier than you might think.  Cider also pairs well with Thanksgiving dinner.

Mead – Mead is a perfect fall beverage.  From traditional styles to cysers with apple or pear, mead pairs perfectly with warm days, cool nights, sausages on the grill, Thanksgiving turkey and even pumpkin pie.

What wines do you enjoy in fall?  Do you have a favorite fall food and wine pairing?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

Cheers!

#InTheWineLight #WinesForFall #FallWines

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – North Carolina Cider Week

In the Wine Light – North Carolina Cider Week

Brushy Mountain Limbertwig

Brushy Mountain Limbertwig Apple – This variety is thought to have originated in the Brushy Mountains of NC.

In the Wine Light is North Carolina Cider Week.  We celebrate NC Cider Week annually during October or November.  This year October 19th – 25th has been designated as a week to honor North Carolina Cider!

So, what is cider exactly?  Here, we’re obviously discussing what’s commonly called “hard cider”.  This cider at its most basic level is fermented apple juice.  

Similar to making wine from grapes, cider is made from crushing apples and fermenting the juice.  The sugar content of apples is lower than grapes, so ciders are typically lower in alcohol than wines.  To make apple wine, sugar is typically added in fermentation to allow for wine like alcohol.

Here in North Carolina, many cider apples are sourced from the Hendersonville area and from the Brushy Mountains in Wilkes and Alexander Counties.  Cider producers range from those in the mountains to the southern piedmont to urban areas like Charlotte and Durham.

So, how do you celebrate NC Cider Week?  By drinking a locally grown and produced NC Cider, of course!  You can also celebrate by visiting local cideries and by attending the NC Cider Week Sip and Meet on Saturday, October 24th at the Chatham Beverage District in Pittsboro.  This event will feature cideries from the Piedmont of NC.

Cheers!

#InTheWineLight #NCCiderWeek #NCCider

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – Drink Local Wine Week

In the Wine Light – Drink Local Wine Week

In the Wine Light is Drink Local Wine Week.  Drink Local Wine Week is celebrated annually during the second full week of October, so for 2020, the dates are October 11th – 17th.

This week started in 2008 by the Drink Local Wine organization to encourage wine writers and bloggers to write about and celebrate local wines. The organization has since taken a break, but this week long celebration has continued annually.

Local wine means different things to different people.  Some say a wine is local if it’s sold locally.  Some say it’s local if it’s produced locally.  And still others say it’s local only if it’s both sourced from locally grown products (grapes, other fruits, honey) AND locally produced.  We have some thoughts on that in another post.

Whatever you consider a local wine, celebrate with a local wine or two this week and tell others about it.

Support Local #NCWine

And if you want to join the conversation about local North Carolina Wine, join our new Facebook group, Support Local North Carolina Wine – #NCWine!

Cheers!

#InTheWineLight #DrinkLocalWineWeek #DrinkLocal

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – Orange Wine Week

In the Wine Light – Orange Wine Week

Orange Wine Flavors Courtesy of Wine Folly

Orange Wine Flavors Courtesy of Wine Folly

In the Wine Light is Virtual Orange Wine Week.  This day was originally started by Amanda Clair Goodwin (known at The Real Housewine) in 2018 as National Orange Wine Day to be celebrated annually on October 6th.  This year it has been expanded to a whole week to be celebrated from October 5th – 10th.

The goal of National Orange Wine Day and now Virtual Orange Wine Week is to according to the day’s website, “bring greater awareness to this beautiful, yet lesser-known style of wine in a way that is nonjudgmental, unintimidating, and inclusive.” 

So, you may be thinking what is Orange Wine?  No, we’re not talking wine made from oranges.  We’re talking about a white wine made from white grapes.  With orange wine, unlike traditional white wine where the skins are removed, the pressed juice remains on the skins to ferment for days to weeks or even months.  This gives the resulting wine an orange hue.

Orange wines are more bold and complex than many white wines.  They might have flavors not typically associated with white wine.  Also, they can be more tannic due to the contact with the grape skins.  Orange wines are thought of have originated in what is now the country of Georgia.

Have you had an orange wine?  Some past and current producers of orange wine in North Carolina are Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg, McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks in Thurmond, DéFi Wines (Botanist & Barrel) in Cedar Grove, and Lazy Elm Vineyard & Winery in Mocksville.

#InTheWineLight #NationalOrangeWineDay #VirtualOrangeWineWeek

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – Virginia Wine Month

In the Wine Light – Virginia Wine Month

RdV Vineyards in Delaplane, VA

RdV Vineyards in Delaplane, VA

In the Wine Light is Virginia Wine Month.  October is designated as Virginia Wine Month.  Outside of North Carolina, Virginia is one of favorite American wine regions.

Virginia’s wine history dates back nearly 400 years.  Just 12 years after the first English settlement at Jamestown, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed “Acte 12”.  This act required each male colonist to plant and tend to grapevines.  Later in 1773, the Virginia Wine Company formed and devoted nearly 2,000 acres of land to start a vineyard and winery near Monticello.  (Source:  VirginiaWine.org)

Today Virginia boasts over 300 wineries, 8 American Viticultural Areas (with two shared with other states), and nearly 3000 acres under vine.  Plantings include Vinifera, hybrids, and native American grapes.  Much like North Carolina, Petit Manseng, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc do well in Virginia. Albariño is also another up and coming variety that is getting more attention in Virginia.

We look forward to highlighting a few Virginia wines this month.  Do you have a favorite Virginia wine?

#InTheWineLight #VAWine #VAWineMonth

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – How to Hold A Wine Glass

In the Wine Light – How to Hold A Wine Glass

The Incorrect & Correct Way to Hold a Wine Glass

In the Wine Light is the proper way to hold a wine glass.  Yeah.  We know.  You’re probably thinking, “There’s a right way to hold a wine glass?”  The answer is absolutely YES!

You should always hold your wine glass by the stem near the base.  There are two main reasons why this is true.

  1.  You won’t get greasy finger prints on the bowl of your glass.
  2. The most important reason though is that your wine will stay cooler longer if you don’t put your warm hands on the bowl.

There may be cases where you do want to warm up your wine.  Perhaps you’re drinking an oaked chardonnay that’s been in the refrigerator.  A few good swirls with your hands cupping the bowl can certainly make your wine taste better.  But as a general rule the stem is the way to go.

So, now you’re probably thinking, “What about stemless glasses?”  Well, in our opinion, they make lovely water glasses but terrible wine glasses.  So, stick to the stemmed glass!  

Cheers!

#InTheWineLight

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – International Grenache Day

In the Wine Light – International Grenache Day

Grenache growing at Jones Von Drehle Vineyards and Winery

Grenache growing at Jones Von Drehle Vineyards and Winery – Photo Courtesy of Jones von Drehle

In the Wine Light is International Grenache Day.  This wine holiday is celebrated yearly on the third Friday in September.  In 2020, that falls on September 18th.

Grenache Day celebrates the red grape Grenache as it’s known in France.  In Spain, it’s known as Garnacha and is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world.

Grenache typically thrives in a hot, dry climate and is believed to have originated in what is now northern Spain.  It is also widely grown in the southern Rhône Valley in France where it makes up to 80% of Châteauneuf-du-Pape blends along with primarily Syrah and Mourvèdre.  Grenache is also used to make rosés with is being the predominant variety in the famous rosés of Tavel.

Grenache is not widely grown in North Carolina.  Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery currently uses their Grenache solely for their dry rosé, Rosa Dia.  Hanover Park Vineyard has a small planting used for blending.  Junius Lindsay Vineyard uses Grenache as an occasional standalone wine but mostly for blending in both reds and rosés.  MenaRick Vineyard and Winery also grows Grenache and has a single varietal of Grenache available.

What do you like about Grenache?  Would you like to see more Grenache grown in North Carolina?

#GrenacheDay #InTheWineLight

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – National Honey Month

In the Wine Light – National Honey Month

Honeybees

In the Wine Light is National Honey Month.  September is National Honey Month.  Started in 1989 by the National Honey Board, National Honey Month celebrates all things honey.  September was chosen because honey collection typically concludes in September as honey bees are readying their hives for winter.

You’re probably wondering –  what does this have to do with wine?  Well, honey can be fermented into wine by adding water and yeast.  That’s the traditional recipe for mead.  Mead is a fantastic addition to your wine collection whether just to enjoy or to pair with your favorite foods. 

Mead is made in a variety of styles from traditional to melomel (a mead that  contains fruit) to braggot (a mead made with hops or malt) to cyser (a mead make with apple juice or cider) to pyment (a mead made with grapes or grape juice) and many more.  While many people assume mead is always sweet since honey is so sweet, that’s not always the case.  Meads range from dry to off-dry to sweet.  Alcohol content can range from under 4% to nearly 18% ABV.

NC Mead Alliance

We’re fortunate to have many great mead producers in North Carolina.  So, check out the NC Mead Alliance to learn more about mead, and be sure to go visit a local meadery!

#InTheWineLight #NationalHoneyMonth #NCMead

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, Mead, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – International Cabernet Day

In the Wine Light – International Cabernet Day

Cabernet Sauvignon at Hanover Park Vineyard - Yadkinville, NC

Cabernet Sauvignon at Hanover Park Vineyard – Yadkinville, NC

In the Wine Light is International Cabernet Day.  This wine holiday is celebrated on the Thursday before Labor Day.  In 2020, that falls on September 3rd, but it can occur in late August or early September depending on the year.

So, is Cabernet Day for Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, or both?  It seems that most folks celebrate Cabernet Sauvignon on this day, but we don’t see any reason why we can’t celebrate Cabernet Franc too.  After all, without Cabernet Franc crossing with Sauvignon Blanc, we wouldn’t have Cabernet Sauvignon!

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely planted and noble wine grapes in all the world.  It typically bud breaks later, so it isn’t subject to as many issues with the late spring frosts we see here in North Carolina.  Due to the later bud break, it’s often one of the last grapes to be harvested.

Cabs are often known for being full bodied with big tannins.  Old World Cabernets and those we find on the East Coast tend to be softer and more delicate.  Both have should have their place in your wine rack.

There are many delightful Cabernet Sauvignons in the state.  Just a few of our favorite include (but not limited to) Cabs from Overmountain Vineyards, Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery, Laurel Gray Vineyards, South Creek Vineyards and Winery, and Hanover Park Vineyard.

What do you like about Cabernet?  How are celebrating this iconic variety?

#CabernetDay #InTheWineLight

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light

In the Wine Light

An Introduction

In an effort to provide more content to our readers, we’re introducing a new regular feature to our website called “In the Wine Light”. The aim to provide regular wine related content in short posts.

With “In the Wine Light” we will discuss a variety of wine related topics from grape varieties to wine styles to wine and food pairings to wine holidays and more! We’ll also feature the people and places of the local wine scene here in North Carolina.

Let us know what you would like to see In the Wine Light!

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments