Wine, Wineries and Vineyards

Showcase of North Carolina Fine Wines

Showcase of North Carolina Fine Wines

In mid-March, the North Carolina Fine Wines Competition took to the road and held its first showcase event. The showcase had on display all 12 of the winning wines from North Carolina. This first showcase was at the Duke mansion in Charlotte. The doors opened and the crowds made their way in to pick up their Riedel glass and make their way through the tasting sheet. Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in featured, Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking — February 2017

What We’ve Been Drinking — February 2017

A short month, yet a good month for North Carolina wine. Two important wine “holidays” also took place; National Drink Wine Day (February 18, we had the Petite Sirah from Junius Lindsay) and Open that Bottle Night (February 25 we opened the2007 Merlot from McRitchie). In total for the month, we had 15 fantastic NC Wines (with a short break at the beginning of the month).
Check out our featured NC Wines on our Instagram feed and be sure to leave us your feedback!
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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking — January 2017

What We’ve Been Drinking — January 2017

The first month of a fresh new year has drawn to a close. January was a good month for NC Wine, too. The annual NC Winegrowers Conference took place in Winston-Salem around half way into the month. We were able to attend both days of the conference this year (no snowstorm got in our way) and the attendance was incredible! Each session was packed and we learned a lot about some of the current issues wine makers and grape growers are facing. Of course, we also presented on the importance of hashtags in social media. Everyone had a great time and we got a ton of good pictures. To see for yourself, head over to Instagram and search for the hashtag #NCWine.

Check out our featured NC Wines on our Instagram feed and be sure to leave us your feedback!
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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking — December 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking — December 2016

The final month of 2016 has come and gone. As the weather turned cooler, our choices tended to lean more to the red side. As we counted down the days of 20316, we did have a few highlights to the month. A vintage tasting at Hanover Park Vineyards greeted us with a fantastic selection of well aged wines. One of these was truly surprising to see, a 2011 Viognier. Normally white wines are best when drunk within a year or two of the harvest. This particular bottle has seen 5 years in the bottle. As such the flavors were incredibly deep with cream and honey gracing the palate. This was truly one incredible wine.

Also worth noting, we finally made our way to an event where Dover Vineyards was pouring their wines. These small batch wines have a lot to offer. We really enjoyed the 2012 and 2013 vintages of their Chambourcin. Both were full bodied and well balanced. We look forward to getting back and trying more of their wine.

Here’s to looking ahead to 2017 and hoping for another great year of wine. Cheers!

Check out our Instagram feed for a recap of our December selections.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
North Carolina Wines for Your 2016 Holiday Table

North Carolina Wines for Your 2016 Holiday Table

The holidays are here! It’s a time for celebration with family and friends which often means good food and good drink. With a growing industry and higher quality of wines, it is time to consider adding North Carolina wine to your holiday table. But where do you start? What should you pair with classic holiday foods? Well, we have some suggestions!

Holiday White Wines from North Carolina

  • Ham – Ham is a classic main course for any holiday. Riesling is a classic pairing with any ham. We recommend the new 2015 Estate Grown Dry Riesling from Dobbins Creek Vineyards ( This wine is the signature white at Dobbins Creek. It is one of the best in the state for Riesling. The nose has notes of pear and honey. It is classic Riesling. The palate continues with pear and honey before moving to a slight mineral note. The finish is crisp. The acidity is pleasing. You will not be disappointed with this pairing!
  • Turkey – Roast turkey is versatile. You can pair with a white wine or a lighter red wine.
    • For a white wine, pairing we recommend the 2014 Traminette from Misty Creek Vineyards ( Traminette is typically very floral with a nice spicy finish. This traminette is just that. The nose is almost perfumey. The palate has melon and good fruit. There are those hints of spice that you would expect as well.
    • For a red wine, we recommend the 2014 Cabernet Franc from Divine Llama Vineyards ( This wine has a nose of cherry and vanilla that carries through to the palate. There a good oaky note as well. It would be perfect with Cranberry Sauce!

Holiday Red Wines from North Carolina

  • Duck – Ah, duck! It is poultry that has the umph of a steak! Classically you would pair duck with a Pinot Noir. But, if you can’t find Pinot Noir, Chambourcin is a great substitute! We recommend the 2012 Chambourcin from Dover Vineyards ( This wine is made in same style as a New Zealand Pinot Noir. The nose has dark fruits with hints of spice. The palate is light cherry and hints of vanilla. The acidity of this wine is the perfect balance to the fattiness of duck.
  • Roast Beef – Roast beef is another holiday classic. Of course, this calls for a hearty red wine! We recommend 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from Mountain Brook Vineyards ( The nose is herbaceous with notes of cherries. This wine is big and bold with fruity notes along with hints of vanilla. It is perfect with roast beef or any red meat.
  • Lamb – Lamb is one meat where you either love it or hate it. We happen to love it. A classic pairing with lamb is a wine from the Rhône Valley of France. These wines are classically earthy. The recommended pairing of the 2013 Mourvèdre from Hanover Park Vineyard ( is just that! From the nose to the palate, there is an earthy quality throughout. There are also notes of cherry. This wine is velvety, but light. It is perfect with lamb, mushrooms or manchego cheese!
  • Roasted Vegetables – We don’t want all of our pairings to be wine and meat. Vegetables should be a big part of any holiday table. Some of our favorites are roasted carrots, parsnips, celery root, garlic, onion, sweet potato and/or butter number squash. This calls for a full-bodied white wine. We suggest the 2014 Barrel Aged Chardonnay from Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard & Winery ( The nose gives nice notes of oak with hints of butter. The butter carries through to the palate with notes of apples and pears as well. It also pairs well with any winter squash soup!

Holiday Dessert Wines from North Carolina

  • Palate Cleanser – Sometimes, it’s good to take a break from heavy food and cleanse the palate. A classic palate cleanser is lemon granita, but that can a lot of work. Continuously taking the granita out of the freezer, scraping the crystals with a fork, returning it to the freezer and the repeating the process for hours. Why not go with an easier route? We recommend chilling a bottle of Vino Limone from Elkin Creek Vineyards ( in your freezer. Take it out and give your guests a small serving to cleanse their palates. Or use this wine as dessert itself. It’s lemon wine fortified with brandy. The nose has notes of charred lemons. The palate is tart lemon with a slight sweetness. The lemon allows it to maintain a nice acidity. It’s perfect to cleanse the palate or just enjoy with dessert!
  • Chocolate Desserts – Decadent chocolate desserts call for port-style wines. They are perfect with rich chocolate or just by themselves on a cold night. We recommend the Midnight Run from Windsor Run Cellars ( This wine is made from Chambourcin and Petit Verdot and then fortified. There are notes of chocolate on the nose. The palate is warming with notes of cocoa and dark fruit. It’s the perfect way to end any holiday celebration!

Let us know your thoughts on these pairings! We’d love to hear what you think and what pairings you’ve come up on your own. For other food and North Carolina wine pairings, please see an earlier article on our blog. You can find it here:

Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, may it be merry, bright and filled with North Carolina wine!


Posted by Joe Brock in Food, Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking — November 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking — November 2016

November always seems like such a whirlwind of a month! Family visits, holiday parties and a few vineyard trips filled up our calendar. Among the highlights we made a visit to two new wineries (Midnight Magdelena Vineyards and the newly re-opened West Bend Vineyards) as well as took part in an impromptu botteling at Hanover Park Vineyards!  We’re excited to see what the next month brings with it!

Check out our Instagram feed for a recap of our November selections.
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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking October 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking October 2016

Half way through November and we remembered we didn’t post our recap of last month! October was one busy month! For us, it involved a trip out to the coast to visit Sanctuary Vineyards. On our return trip, we made a quick stop at the NC State Fair and sampled a few wines from those who were out sampling for the public. It was a tasty month and we are already making progress on our November.

Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Sanctuary Vineyards: Making #NCWine in the Outer Banks

Sanctuary Vineyards: Making #NCWine in the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of the North Carolina coastline have long been a vacationer’s sweet spot. The long, narrow islands of sand and grasses serve as a natural barrier protecting the interior waterways from the harsh currents of the ocean. Just across the Currituck sound in Jarvisburg is something no one would have expected to see — a vineyard, growing European grapes. The vineyard in the spot light is none other than Sanctuary Vineyards. Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in featured, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
NC Wine Month 2016 Recap

NC Wine Month 2016 Recap

Yet another wine month has come and gone. This month, we really stepped it up with our wine postings and winery visits. At the end of the month, we co-hosted a #winechat takeover. There were lots of new participants this year and we had a ton of great questions! One thing we noticed is the increased number of #NCWine and #NCWineMonth hashtags! This is great news for keeping our consistent brand strong and getting the word out there about #NCWine.

Read on for a photo roll of our NC Wine Month adventures.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 1 comment

Lodi – Post-Wine Bloggers Conference Adventures

We made it through the rest of the conference. The sessions were good, but the networking and connection with fellow bloggers and the Lodi wine community were invaluable. We’re so thankful for the experiences we had.

With the conference over, we decided to head out and explore a bit more of the wine scene in Lodi. We also wanted to pick up wine to ship back to North Carolina. We first needed food, so we walked to downtown Lodi and grabbed a Panini at Wine Social ( After that we walked back and got in our rental car and headed out to gather wine and explore.

We decided we’d head east a bit. We needed to see some gently rolling hills after days of flat land. Our first stop was Bokisch Vineyards ( Bokisch specializes in Spanish varietals. They were tasting three of their Albariños side by side. Each was unique. We were really impressed by all of them. We moved on a few reds and then finished with our favorite wine, the 2014 Tizona Late Harvest Graciano. It was delightful with notes of dried cherry and spice!


Next on our list was Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards ( We just had to stop in here as we’re big fans of Rhône Valley style wines. Acquiesce did not disappoint! They only do white wines and a rosé made from Grenache. It was a perfect day for cool, crisp wine! We loved them all, but our favorite was the full bodied 2015 Roussanne. Its nose was apricots, almond and pear with a palate of pear and honey and a mineral-like finish. We also enjoyed a few freshly picked Viognier grapes and some freshly pressed Viognier juice! It was another unique experience in Lodi wine country!


The next stop was The Lucas Winery ( We had visited here on Thursday, but we need to pick up some wine. Sara greeted us again and offered us a small taste of the 2014 Chardonnay. It was perfect! We also shared with Sara and Mitra Lucas that Wine Enthusiast had shared Jameson Fink’s (Wine Enthusiast’s Senior Digital Editor) post on their 2001 Chardonnay. We tasted it during Live Blogging on Friday of the conference. They were delighted. Mitra was kind enough to offer us a bottle of that Chardonnay. We can’t wait to try it again! We made our purchases and moved along.

2001 Chardonnay from The Lucas Winery

2001 Chardonnay from The Lucas Winery

We decided with the heat we should drop off our wines at the hotel before heading to our next stop, Harney Lane Winery ( Our favorites from this stop were the 2015 Albariño and the 2013 Petite Sirah.


We ended our day at McCay Cellars ( We had the fortune of sitting at one of the McCay tables at the Saturday night dinner at the conference. Linda McCay was at our table. Her husband Mike McCay (also the winemaker) was at the other table. Given the wines we had sampled the night before, we were interested in seeing the rest of the lineup and to purchase wine to ship back to North Carolina. Our favorite was the 2013 Cinsaut. This Cinsaut was made from grapes that came from vines that were planted in 1886.   We certainly can’t find that in North Carolina!

We ended Sunday night early. We had more plans for Monday.

We started our day on Monday at Michael David Winery ( We were familiar with their wines as their flagship brands (7 Deadly Zins, Petite Petit & Freakshow) are readily available in North Carolina. We were very interested in seeing what else that had to offer. We also wanted to grab a bottle of the 2013 Inkblot Cabernet Franc. We had tasted it on Saturday during the live blogging event.


After we finished at Michael David, we head back to Van Ruiten Family Winery ( We just had to get some of their wines to ship back to NC. Akaylia greeted us in the tasting room and took us through all the reserves wines. We had some of them during the Friday night dinner, but it was good to see the rest of the lineup. Our favorite was the 2012 Reserve Ancient Vine Carignane. It was woody and earthy on the nose with notes of cherry jam on the palate.


Talk then turned to the tree in the parking lot. Akaylia walked us outside and had us try to guess what kind of tree it was. We weren’t successful with our guesses. It turns out that it a California Cork Oak, a real cork tree! It was super cool!

Cork tree up close!

Cork tree up close!

During our tasting Bill came in to greet us. He took us back to the crush pad where Chardonnay was being pressed. We also got to taste a few grapes!

Chardonnay heading to the press!

Chardonnay heading to the press!

We finished our tasted, selected our purchased and head out to Livermore Valley. We found a few good wines in that area and would love to explore there again. However, it didn’t compare to the experience we had in Lodi.

Lodi, thank you! You were warm and welcoming! It was an experience like none other. We will always remember you fondly and hope to visit again soon!

Downtown Lodi, CA

Downtown Lodi, CA

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 1 comment
Friday Night Excursion – Wine Bloggers Conference 2016 – Van Ruiten Family Winery

Friday Night Excursion – Wine Bloggers Conference 2016 – Van Ruiten Family Winery

The Wine Bloggers Conference had a full agenda. We focused on preparing for the actual conference sessions. We knew exactly what sessions we would attend. However, we realized on Thursday that we had not paid enough attention to the details about the Friday Night excursions. Thankfully, we were tipped off about that and looked at it in more detail.

The Friday evening excursions are a Wine Bloggers Conference tradition. The Lodi excursions were unique though. The excursion groups were smaller than past excursion and they were top secret! The only thing we knew was the name of our excursion, Dutch Crush. You see, you “signed up” by selecting a ribbon with an excursion name. Some of the names were “Gone with the Wine”, “She’s a Brix House”, “99 Bottles of Wine”, just to name a few. We had no idea what winery was associated with each. All we knew is that we would be whisked away to a winery for an evening of wine and food.

We all gathered by our sign - Dutch Crush!

We all gathered by our sign – Dutch Crush!

The conference sessions ended at 4pm on Friday. We were told to head outside and find our group. It was there that we learned from Billy, our chauffeur, that we were headed to Van Ruiten Family Winery (, his family’s winery. We piled in the van (Mercedes Benz no less) and headed over to the winery. We were greeted by Billy’s mom and dad, Bill and Angie along with Angie’s brothers, John & Jim, John (Winemaker), Bill (President) Rustin (Sales Manager), Akaylia (Tasting Room), and Elyse (Tasting Room). I’m sure we’ve missed someone though. We do apologize. The patio was set up for appetizers and a refreshing glass of 2015 Pinot Grigio. It was hot, and we were thirsty. The Pinot Grigio hit the spot!

Appetizers were ready when we arrived!

Appetizers were ready when we arrived!

We all grabbed a glass and headed out on our tour led by John the winemaker. We visited the barrel room, the lab, the crush pad and stopped by the big tanks which were filled with recently pressed pinot grigio from the 2016 harvest. The yeast was about to be pumped in the tank. It was cool to see the yeast. It looked like bread dough. We ended out tour with a look at the bottling line.

Yeast ready to go!

Yeast ready to go!

Following the tour of the winery, we loaded back up in the van. We were headed to the vineyard. Chardonnay was being harvested. We were going to get to ride a harvester! How cool is that? Turns out it’s not that cool, but that’s only because it was still blazing hot out. It was also dusty, but the experience itself was amazing. We don’t see many machine harvesters in North Carolina. We may not have the chance again. One of the best things was being able to see the vineyard from on high. It made the expanse of the vineyards in the Lodi area really hit home. Acre upon acre upon acre of vines is not something we see in North Carolina either. We’re certainly grateful to have had this experience!

The view from atop the harvester!

The view from atop the harvester!

We climbed back in the van to return to the winery for dinner. We were greeted with a glass of the 2015 Reserve Double Barrel Chardonnay. It was perfect timing! We were thirsty again. This Chardonnay certainly hit the spot! We soon took our seats at the table. Each table had at least one Van Ruiten family member (We also met Bill and Angie’s daughter, Mia) and at least one winery staff person. It was a great way to get to know the team. We were fortunate to have a seat at Bill and Angie’s table along with Bill (President) and Christine of! It was a fun table! We especially loved hearing all the stories from Angie about her mom and dad, John Sr. and Ann. You could see the love on her face as she was telling the stories. You got a sense of what a remarkable couple they were. It was very moving.

The menu!

The menu!

In addition to the great conversion, we got to experience a variety of the Van Ruiten wines. Some of the standouts were the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2013 Cab-Shiraz Blend. Of course, there was also great food to go along with those wines. Each course paired perfectly with the selected wines. The highlight for us was the homemade Dutch cookies (made by Angie) that were paired with the Late Harvest Viognier.

Van Ruiten Family Pictures hang in their tasting room.

Van Ruiten Family Pictures hang in their tasting room.

After dessert, more wines and conversation were shared. Hugs and thank yous followed. We left feeling part of the Van Ruiten family and grateful that we’d been lucky enough to share the evening with them!

Our wonderful hosts!

Our wonderful hosts!

If you’re ever in Lodi, please go visit them! We know we’ll be back!




Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments

Lodi – Pre-Wine Bloggers Conference Adventures

We just got back from our first Wine Bloggers Conference. This year’s conference was held in Lodi, CA. It was our first time visiting this part of the Golden State. We really weren’t sure what to expect not only from the conference but also from the Lodi area itself. Boy! Were we pleasantly surprised! Lodi knocked our socks off! Ok, to be honest, most days we didn’t wear socks. It was hot. Regardless, it was an amazing experience!

We arrived on the Wednesday before the conference. We wanted to have time to explore the area. After we checked in to the hotel, we ventured out to downtown Lodi. We stopped in at Lodi Wine Cellars ( ) for a quick tasting. The wines were good, but there were no standouts. After that we decided it was time to eat. We were a bit jetlagged given the 3 hour time difference. We stopped by Lodi Beer Company ( ). The food was delicious. The beer was great too. After dinner and a beer, we walked around downtown Lodi a bit more before heading back to the hotel and going to bed early.


Downtown Lodi, CA

Since we went to bed so early the night before, we were up early on Thursday. We had breakfast and had to kill time before wineries opened. Thursday was our tasting day. We decided to go out on our own rather than join one of the organized excursions. We like to be able to be flexible and just go with our gut. We also often ask locals where to go for food and drink. We are rarely disappointed with the suggestions we have received.

Our first stop was Oak Ridge Winery ( They opened at 10am, so it seemed like a good place to start. The stand out wine there was the 2013 Moss Roxx Ancient Vine Zinfandel. The vines that produced the grapes for this wine are over 100 years old. The wine was jammy with hints of vanilla and a smooth finish. It was exactly what you would expect from a Lodi Zinfandel.

Next we headed to Lodi Vinters ( Our favorite wine here was another zinfandel. This one was the 2012 Reserve Concrete Zinfandel. This wine comes from 105 year old vines. It’s partially fermented in concrete tanks that have been in production for over 75 years. The wine was full of dark plum and vanilla. It was fantastic!

We didn’t know a lot about Lodi wine before our visit. We did know Klinker Brick ( though. It was our next stop.   We loved all the wines we tasted there. There were a few new ones for us. One was the 2015 Albariño. The other was the 2015 Rosé which was a blend of Carignane, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache. The stand out new wine for us was the 2013 Farrah Syrah Grand Reserve. Aged for 23 months in French oak, this wine comes from only 2 rows of the Syrah vineyard. We had the pleasure of meeting Farrah, the namesake of the Farrah Syrahs, during the Live Red Wine Blogging session!

Klinker Brick Winery

Klinker Brick Winery

After lunch at Fiori’s Butcher Shoppe and Deli ( – it was so good we went back again on Saturday – we met up with another blogger, Heather of 10K Bottles ( for the afternoon. Our first stop was Lange Twins Family Winery & Vineyards (   The standout there was the 2014 Winery Exclusive Nero d’Avola. This wine presented cherry flavors with hints of cocoa.

Lange Twins Family Winery & Vineyards

Lange Twins Family Winery & Vineyards

Next we headed to Oak Farm Vineyards ( ). We were struck by the beauty of the tasting room. It had a modern, lodging feel. It was also here, that Heather, Matt and I realized something special was in store for us on the Friday night excursions (more on that in another post.) The standout wine from our tasting was the 2014 Barbera. It was aged in oak and gave both a nose and palate of cherry and warm vanilla. While there we met the owner, Dan Panella, and the winemaker, Chad Joseph. They took us on a tour of the winery and spent time answering our questions and chatting. We appreciated their time and how warmly we were welcomed. This was a theme all through Lodi.

Fireplace in Oak Farm Vineyards Tasting Room

Fireplace in Oak Farm Vineyards Tasting Room

We ended out tasting adventure on Thursday at The Lucas Winery ( ). Heather had received a recommendation to check them out. We’re so glad she did. Lucas is one of the original five wineries in Lodi. They produce only straight varietal wines. We were quickly greeted in the tasting room by Sara. She was such a pleasure! The tasting included wine in the tasting room, a short walk out the back door to taste zinfandel from the vine, wine in the barrel room and finally Late Harvest Zinfandel paired with freshly baked brownies. We ended on a high note!

The Lucas Winery

The Lucas Winery

Thursday evening we headed back downtown for dinner. We also wanted to check out the farmers market. It’s a weekly staple during late spring through summer. Wow! This was more like a festival than a farmers market. There were all kinds of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and baked goods along with food trucks, live music, a beer garden and wine tastings! Lodi does their farmers market right! We were super jealous that we don’t have something quite like that here in North Carolina!

Our first full day in Lodi confirmed what we first experienced Wednesday night. Lodi is a special place. We would find more about just how special on the following day. We’ll have more on that in another post! Stay tuned!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking: July 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking: July 2016

Another late posting, but we’ve been busy during the month of August! July was another hot month, but we found some great wines to keep us cool. We also made our way to another new winery in July! Roaring River Vineyards opened its doors in mid July so we couldn’t resist making a visit.   It was so peaceful and serene we didn’t want to leave!  We made a few other winery trips during the month and picked up another set of Riedel glasses during a special tasting event at Hanover Park.  It was a great way to beat the heat of summer!

Check out our Instagram for a recap of what we had during the month of July:

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How to Read a Wine Bottle Label

How to Read a Wine Bottle Label

This post originally was written by us for Craft Carolina.  You can find it here:

Shopping for wine can be a fun if you know what you want. On the other hand, it can also be a daunting experience. Unless you’re in the business, sometimes those wine labels can be confusing. We’re here to help. We’re going to take a look at how to read an American wine label. European wine labels are a different animal for a different time. We’ll look at labels for wine made right here in the USA. In particular, we’ll look specifically at a North Carolina wine label.

Label standards in the US are regulated by the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Bureau (TTB). The regulations are defined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Per their website, the TTB works to ensure that alcoholic beverages sold in the US are properly described on their containers. The TTB goes on to state that they review over 100,000 labels and advertisements each your to ensure that they comply with Federal regulations. You can find more information at the TTB’s site. It was used for most of the information in this article. Here is a link:

The basic parts of an American wine label are:

  • Brand Name – This is the name used to market the wine.
  • Vintage Date
    • This is the year in which the fruit used in the wine was harvested.
    • If state or county is used as an appellation of origin, then 85% of the fruit in the wine must have been harvested in the vintage year.
    • If a viticulture area is used, then 95% of the fruit in the wine must have been harvested in that vintage year.
  • Estate Bottled
    • This is used when 100% of the fruit came from a vineyard owned or controlled by the winery.
    • The winery also must have processed the wine in its entirety at the winery.
  • Varietal Designation
    • This is the name of the grape variety that comprises at least 75% of the wine.
    • If this designation is used, then an appellation of origin is required. This means that the 75% must have all come from the appellation of origin.
    • The above rules only apply to vitis vinifera grapes (Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, etc). For vitus labrusca grapes (Concord, Catawba, Niagara, etc), the requirement is only 51%.
  • Other Designations
    • As the varietal designation is not required, other designations may be used.
    • These include Red Wine, White Wine, Rosé Wine, Table Wine (< 14% Alcohol) or Dessert Wine (> 14% Alcohol).
  • Appellation of Origin – This can be the state, county or geographic region in which 75% of the fruit in the wine was grown.
  • Viticulture Area
    • This is the American Viticulture Area (AVA) in which 85% of the fruit in the wine was grown.
    • An AVA is a designated wine grape growing area within the US so designated for its distinctive geographic features.
  • Name & Address
    • This is the name and address of the bottler of the wine.
    • The designation of “Produced” can be added to designate that at least 75% of the wine was fermented at the address listed.
    • The designation of “Vinted” can be added to designate that the wine was cellared at the address listed.
  • Alcohol Content
    • This is the alcohol by volume of the wine.
    • Wine that is between 7% and 14% alcohol can be labeled as “Light Wine” or “Table Wine”.
  • Net Content
    • This is the net content of wine in the container in metric units.
    • Wine can be bottled in 50ml, 100ml, 187ml, 350ml, 500ml, 750ml, 1L, 1.5L or 3L sizes.
    • Bottling greater than 3L is allowed at even liters only.
  • Health Warning Statement – This is required on all beverages at 0.5% alcohol or greater.
  • Declaration of Sulfites
    • This is required on any wines that might be sold across state lines where the wine contains 10 or more parts per million of sulfur dioxide.
    • It is not required for wines only sold within a single state.
Wine Bottle Label Details

Wine Bottle Label Details

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
Reflecting on #WBC16: Our Insights

Reflecting on #WBC16: Our Insights

Well the Wine Bloggers Conference 2016 edition is now over and Lodi, CA can go back to the harvest that is quickly approaching. This year was our first year in attendance. When we arrived in Lodi last week, we weren’t sure what to expect. Sure, we read up on the conference and joined in on the numerous web stream chats from @WineAntics. But still, we were a little unsure what would happen. If you don’t read the rest of this post, you can take away this one piece of info. We absolutely loved this conference and we gained so many valuable insights, that it will now be on our calendar for years to come.

Let me first start out with a quick overview of the conference schedule. The first two days were jam-packed with information sessions, keynote speakers, panel discussions, and live wine blogging (aka speed tasting). Of course, there was plenty of time for meals, mingling, and making valuable contacts in the blogging industry. The final day of the conference was only a half day, but the ratio of insights to time spent sitting was the highest of the entire conference.

I’ll get to a post about the first two days in the next coming days, but I wanted to focus on the last day first. The break out session that day only had two options, so Joe and I decided to divide and conquer. I ended up heading to the session titled “Increasing your Audience and Engagement” presented by husband and wife team @marycressler and @emberandvine. Their award-winning blog Vindulge and their popularity across their social platforms made them ideal presenters for this topic.

There were so many takeaways from this session, that I now have weeks worth of homework ahead of me and I could write post after post about everything they taught me. The point that resonated with me the most was probably this; instead of trying to build an audience of new readers, we need to focus our writing and posts on those who already read our blog. By focusing on our readers we will end up writing better, writing more often, and gain a base of loyal readers. The rest of the popularity equation will eventually unfold after this first key step.

Our Message to You

So here’s to you, our loyal readers. Thank you for sticking with us and for reading each of our posts and reviews. We really appreciate your comments and feedback, so please let us know what else we can do to make it more interesting for you.

We’ll be posting more about the Wine Bloggers Conference in the next coming days, so keep an eye out for more posts. As we continue our journey of taking NC Wine to the next level, we’ll also be making a few improvements on our blog and our social media outlets. Even though we only went to one WBC so far, we feel ready to take on the world. Cheers!

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments

Live Wine Blogging at #WBC16 — Red Wines

We’re back at it for day number two. This time we’ll be enjoying an assortment of red wines. The setup is the same; several tables filled with bloggers with a winery bringing their wines to the table. We’ll have 5 minutes per wine and we’ll be posting our reviews here. You can also find our reviews on Twitter, so check back between 3:30 and 4:30 Pacific Time for more info!

the tastings—

Cultivar Winery – 2013 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted: August 13, 2016 at 7:30 pm
Entry level Napa blend. Dark color, even to the edge of the glass. Classic Napa nose, red fruits, a touch of herbs. Big, bold, fruity, almost chewy. High alcohol on the finish, very hot. Yet still maintains a fruity balance.

Klinkerbrick – 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted: at 7:24 pm
A first release of this varietal. Deep and even in color and quite expressive on the nose. A cooling first sip reveals a very nice fruit profile with soft tannins. It’s still youthful, so it’ll be interesting to see what it does in the years to come.

Peirano Estate Vineyard – 2013 The Other

Posted: at 7:19 pm
A red blend mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Rich color, not deep but still bright. Classic nose of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot notes, big cherry with hints of vanilla and oak. Fruity flavor, very vibrant with a well balanced oak mid-palate. An excellent value (12.99 average retail).

Michael David Winery – 2013 Inkblot Cabernet Franc

Posted: at 7:13 pm
A smokey nose with a touch of dried black cherries. Fresh black cherries start out on the front, then move into a mineral rich, almost flinty, finish. Vanilla is present on the mid-palate as well, then fades quickly before the finish.

Prie Winery – 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted: at 7:09 pm
A complex nose, earthy and hints of sage and possibly thyme lingering around. Cooling on the first sip. Dried fruits throughout with a bit of a lighter body than the other wines tasted so far. Another refreshing change from the heavier cabs just a bit more to the north.

Lange Twins Vineyard – 2014 Nero D’Avola

Posted: at 7:04 pm
Earthy nose, almost a little nutty. Big fruit forward profile. Tannins and oak are well balanced with a delicate herbal undertone. Light cassis on the finish; a different wine than the others in the lineup.

Harney Lane Winery – 2013 Zinfandel

Posted: at 6:59 pm
Garnet in color, even color distribution. Clean youthful nose, dried red fruits, maybe a touch of spice. Big fruit flavors, distinctive. Hints of herbal mid-palate and a bit more savory. Nice oaky finish, long with a drying end.

Oak Ridge Winery – 2014 OZV Zinfandel & 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted: at 6:55 pm
OZV: A full juicy nose, hints of vanilla and a woody backbone. Big fruit forward flavors, leaning on black fruits and well ripened blueberries.
Cabernet Sauvignon: lighter in color, very dependable. Classic cab nose, red fruits with an oaky balance. Bigger fruit with a lighter finish. A nice Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon.

Abundance Winery – 2013 Carignane & Copius Red

Posted: at 6:51 pm
Carignane: Medium purple color with a slight pink on the outer rim. Bold caramel and a hint of plums.
Copius red: 50/50 Carignane Cabernet a bit more smokey with a bigger fruit mid-palate.

Klinkerbrick Vineyards – 2013 Farrah Syrah

Posted: at 6:43 pm
A single vineyard Syrah poured by none other than Farrah herself! Deeply colored and a light licorice nose with a plum note in the background. The flavors are bold with dark red fruits and dried berries. Big pepper on the finish with a touch of smoke and vanilla.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments

Live Wine Blogging at #WBC16 — White & Rosé

We’re covering the live wine blogging at the Wine Bloggers Conference 2016.  Here’s the set up. We’ll have 5 minutes to hear about a wine, taste it, think on it and then write about it. Here you’ll find a list of the wines with a short write up. Check back from 3-4 (west coast time) as there will be several updates.  We’re also posting on social media, so check out the badges at the bottom of the page to find out more.

the tasting

The Final Round: Michael David Winery Sauvignon Blanc

Posted: August 12, 2016 at 6:56 pm
The 2015 vintage is what’s in the glass. A pale yellow wine, it is star bright with a clean appearance. The nose is slightly grassy with a clean profile. The flavor is clean with a fresh profile. There is a nice acidity throughout with a nice mineral finish. Candied lemon peel is present in the mid-palate with a nice finish.

d’Art Vineyards 2015 White Barbera

Posted: at 6:51 pm
The wine is brilliant in color, appearing pale yellow. The nose is slightly yeasty with a touch of ripe grape skins. The flavors are big on Apple and pears with a very fresh and fruit forward presentation. The finish is creamy with a very pleasing flavor of honeyed fruit.

Lange Twins Vineyard 2015 Rosé

Posted: at 6:46 pm
This vintage is 100% Sangiovese. The color is a light red-pink, almost toasted salmon in hue. The nose leans more toward strawberry with a green hull background. Bigger strawberry and watermelon flavor today than what we tasted yesterday when we visited the vineyard. The finish is medium with a cherry skin finale.

Bokisch Vineyards 2015 Albariño

Posted: at 6:41 pm
A grassy nose, it reminds me more of Sauvignon Blanc. There’s a hint of something green and herbal hiding in the flavors are very nice. A mild acidity is present on the front, then it moves into a tropical and mild mid-palate. The finish is long with mild intensity of pineapple and sage.

Harney Lane Winery Albariño

Posted: at 6:36 pm
2015 vintage. This wine has a bright tropical nose with a crisp profile. It’s quite clean with a pale yellow-green color. The acidity is bright and up front with an almost prickly sensation on the tongue. The finish is medium intensity with a creamy lemon curd profile. Different than the others we have sampled so far today.

Lucas Winery 2001 Chardonnay

Posted: at 6:31 pm
Bold golden color. Creamy Apple nose with a touch of honey in the background. Full body, very light acids and a creamy finish. A 15 year old Chardonnay that is holding up incredibly well. This wine isn’t ending up in the dump bucket. Quite delicious!

Peirano Estate Vineyards 2014 Chardonnay

Posted: at 6:26 pm
A touch of oak with 50% malolactic fermentation. Medium straw color. Big oaky nose, subtle minerality. Nice and buttery with green apple and yellow apples on the mid-palate. The finish is lingering with subtle acidity on the finish.

Oak Ridge – OZV Rosé

Posted: at 6:21 pm
Old Zinfandel vines. Watermelon pink in color, slightly ruddy. Woody nose, slight hint of fruit in the background. Nice acidity. Hints of strawberries and raspberries. Very refreshing alternative to other heavy zin based rosés. A nice refreshing rosé.

Troon Vineyard – Southern Oregon

Posted: at 6:12 pm
2015 Troon Blue Kabel Longue Carabine
Medium yellow in color, delicate nose with a primary note of white stone fruit. Creamy flavors with a very ripe fruit profile. Almost a little hot on the finish. 43% Marsanne, 27% Viognier, 12% Vermentino, with Riesling, Roussanne and Sauvignon rounding it out. Full flavor, very complex.

Corner 103 – Sonoma Valley

Posted: at 6:05 pm 
100% Sauvignon Blanc. Lighter in color, flinty mineral nose. Almost smokey. White peaches and a nice acidity on the palate. The finish is longer than the previous wine, but it has a bit more flavor. Lighter in body, the flavors are a little exotic with tropical flavors and some grapefruit on the mid-palate.


Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
#NCWine – Our Consistent Brand

#NCWine – Our Consistent Brand

Hashtags are all over social media. They’re even in every day conversation. They’re used to identity messages/posts of the same type. But why is that important? How are they “made”? We’re going to explore that bit and help you learn why you need to use them in EVERY social media post.

As we’ve already stated, hashtags are primarily used to make searching for social media posts easier. You can find like posts more quickly. You can find others to follow more quickly. Others can find you more easily. You can join a conversation. Hashtags are often used for “chatting” online. This is particularly true on Twitter. Follow a hashtag, and you can follow a conversation.

Hashtags are also used to denote trending topics on social media. Social media users are often drawn to trending topics. It generates excitement and interest. Plus, it’s free! They are great marketing tools!

So, how do you build a good hashtag? You should start with something that is short and meaningful. This is especially critical on Twitter since there’s a character limit. The hashtag should be easy to read. Its meaning should be easy to discern.

How does all of this apply to North Carolina wine? It’s all about promotion and online presence. It’s about working together and creating a consistent identity for North Carolina wine. It’s all about #NCWine!

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Please use hashtags in ALL of your social media posts.
  • Please use hashtag #NCWine in ALL of your posts!
    • We need a clear, concise standard.
    • We need a hashtag that aligns with the standard for other wine regions. No ‘s’ on the end PLEASE!
    • We need a consistent brand.
  • If you’re in an AVA, please use a standard for each AVA. We don’t recommend adding AVA to the end. It’s more characters that really aren’t needed. We suggest the following:
    • #YadkinValley
    • #HawRiverValley
    • #SwanCreek
    • #UpperHiwassee
    • #AppHighCountry
  • Create a short and concise hashtag for your brand.
    • Use it with every post on every social media outlet.
    • Encourage its use in your tasting room, etc.
  • Other hashtags to consider:
    • #GotToBeNC – Consistent brand for products from NC.
    • #drinklocal – The local movement is big right now. Capitalize on that!
  • Other things to consider:
    • If it’s a holiday or special event, find a way to post using that hashtag (e.g. #NationalWineDay, #WineWednesday etc.).
    • #wine, #winetasting #winedinner are other good hashtags to use if they apply.
    • On Twitter, use them anywhere in your post. On Facebook and Instagram, use them (typically) at the end of your post.
    • Phrases or sentences should not be turned into hashtags. They’re often difficult to read.
    • Case doesn’t matter, but sometimes capitalizing letters can make the hashtag easier to read.

To summarize, please use hashtags in EVERY social media post. And ALWAYS leave room for the #NCWine hashtag.

If you need more advice on hashtags, send us a note. We’re happy to discuss!


Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 2 comments
Introduction to North Carolina Wine

Introduction to North Carolina Wine

This post originally appeared on (  It has been modified for posting here.

North Carolina Wine has a long and storied history. We’re home to the oldest cultivated grapevine in the country, the Mothervine as it’s known. Located on Roanoke Island near Manteo, cultivation of this massive scuppernong vine, a variety of muscadine, began around 1584. By the beginning of the 20th Century, North Carolina led the nation in wine production. Then prohibition happened crushing the wine industry. The wine industry grew very slowly over the next several decades until the mid 2000s when the industry exploded. There are now nearly 200 wineries in the state. They range from the largest commercial winery on the East Coast, Duplin, to the most visited winery in America, Biltmore, to small family run wineries only producing a few hundred cases a year.

North Carolina vineyards produce many of the grapes used by North Carolina wineries. Primarily two species of grapes are used for winemaking in the state. These are the native Vitis rotundifolia which are muscadine varieties and the European Vitis vinifera . The popularly grown muscadine grapes are Carlos, Magnolia and Scuppernong. The popularly grown vinifera varieties are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Viognier. Hybrid grape varieties are also popular. Those include Chambourcin, Traminette, and Chardonnel.

North Carolina is also home to five American Viticulture Areas (AVAs).   AVAs are designated wine grape growing areas within the US so designated for their distinctive geographic features. The boundaries are defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) which is part of the United States Department of the Treasury.

The five AVAs are:

  • Yadkin Valley – Established in 2003. It is located in Wilkes, Yadkin and Surry Counties along with parts of Davie, Davidson, Forsyth and Stokes Counties.
  • Swan Creek – Established in 2008. It overlaps the Yadkin Valley AVA in parts of Wilkes and Yadkin Counties. A small part is also located in Northern Iredell County.
  • Haw River Valley – Established in 2009. It is located in Alamance County and parts of Caswell, Chatham, Guilford, Orange and Rockingham Counties.
  • Upper Hiwassee Highlands – Established in 2014 and shared with Georgia. It is located in parts of Cherokee and Clay Counties in NC.
  • Appalachian High Country – Established in 2016 and shared with Virginia and Tennessee.  It is located in Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga, and Avery Counties in NC.

A new AVA has been proposed for parts of the Southern Mountains in North Carolina.  If approved it will be known as the Crest of the Blue Ridge AVA. It will include Henderson County in North Carolina.

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
July Tour of Five Yadkin Valley Wineries

July Tour of Five Yadkin Valley Wineries

The first weekend in July, we decided to make our way to a few Yadkin Valley wineries.  Although we didn’t get to wine each day of the weekend, we were able to make it on Friday and Saturday. Read on for a recap of our visits to Hanover Park Vineyards, Childress Vineyards, Junius Lindsay Vineyards, RayLen Vineyards, and Misty Creek Vineyards.

Empty bottles at Hanover Park

After an evening of tasting library wines, there’s bound to be a few empty bottles.

Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking: June 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking: June 2016

Summer is officially here! As the weather heats up, we normally shift to the whites and rosé wines.  Normally we would be full force into the North Carolina white wine scene, but slightly cooler weather and some rain toward the middle of the month allowed for a few red wines to slip in our mix.  Notable June happenings included our trip to the Finger Lakes, a visit to a West Virginia VIneyard, and a first visit to Shadow Line Vineyards right here in NC.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking: May 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking: May 2016

Summer is almost upon us and the North Carolina wine has never tasted better! May was warm and our selections were a bit heavier on the whites and rosés. But still, each bottle showed what NC can produce and how it really is an exciting place to be for new wines.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking: April 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking: April 2016

Where has the time gone! As we were preparing the What We’ve Been Drinking for May, we realized we never posted April’s recap.  April was quite the month. We had a good sampling from around the state. Also worth mentioning, we had the opportunity to travel out to the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA out near Murphy, NC.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Spring Wine Dinner at Raffaldini Vineyards

Spring Wine Dinner at Raffaldini Vineyards

It was a perfect spring day, bright and sunny with moderate temperatures. It was the perfect day to visit Raffaldini Vineyards for their spring wine dinner. Sticking with the Four Seasons theme, Raffaldini Vineyards offers a wine tasting dinner four times a year, each pairing with the season. This past weekend, they celebrated spring with four courses both inside and out, paired with four wines that show what it means to be “Chianti in the Carolinas”.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in featured, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
North Carolina Wine vs the World — a Blind Tasting at RayLen Vineyard

North Carolina Wine vs the World — a Blind Tasting at RayLen Vineyard

All too often we get the question “is North Carolina wine any good” or “how does North Carolina wine compare to California wine?”  Most of the time we encourage people to try North Carolina in for themselves. In reality, this could be a little daunting to some as they may not know where to start. And to answer the question of North Carolina versus California on your own would require you to go out, buy a lot of wine, and sample them side by side. To the average consumer, this may seem a little overboard and quite frankly, a little scary.

How do you know which wines to buy?  How can you get a bottle that’s close enough in composition and profile to accurately compare the two wines?

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking: March 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking: March 2016

It’s hard to believe how fast the months go by. March brought with it warmer weather and the beginning of spring. Many of the grapes in the vineyards have already seen bud break and are well on their way to getting ready for their prime growing season.

During March we drank a bit of North Carolina Wine (26 bottles according to our Instagram).  Some notable wines included our first wine of the 2015 vintage, the Barrel Chardonnay from Hanover Park, and the new 2014 Grenache from Junius Lindsay.  Both were exceptional when we tasted them.  We know that these will only improve over time and can’t wait for more!

Check out our feed below for more details on what we had.  Cheers!

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Sunday Adventures #6

Sunday Adventures #6

Sundays are wine adventure days for us. We typically invite a few friends to join us as we expand their horizons of the NC wine scene. Since we haven’t been out wining in several weeks, we decided to go it alone and take our time. Our options were nearly limitless, but we decided on three wineries in the Yadkin Valley and Swan Creek regions.  Read on for an account of the day and our tasting notes for each stop.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking: February 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking: February 2016

Another month has come and gone. Even though we got a late start to the month, we still ended up with 11 North Carolina wines! This February marked the first time we participated in Open That Bottle Night! We also had the opportunity to pour three wines for Hanover Park at the Shoppes at Home, Heart and Soul.

We look forward to March and hope it brings with it more NC Wine. Click on the pictures below for more details on our month in wine.
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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
What Does Drinking Locally Really Mean?

What Does Drinking Locally Really Mean?

The locavore movement has exploded over the last few years. Folks are really interested in eating food that is grown and cooked locally.  It harkens back to the days when folks grew a lot of the food they ate.  With all of this interest in local food, why not local drink?  Well, there has been more interest in locally produced beer and now locally produced spirits.  Local wine is starting to take off too, but is more difficult to find outside of the local winery.  Let’s take a look at wine specifically and talk about what it means to drink local wine.

Drink Local Wine!

Drink Local Wine!

Local wine is more than just wine produced by a local winery.  Truly local wine is wine that is fermented, aged and bottled at a local winery, but it is also wine that is made only from local grapes, fruit, or honey. These grapes should come from vines that are planted in North Carolina soil.  The fruit should come from North Carolina trees, bushes, etc.  The honey should come from a local bee hive.  Let’s be clear, a true North Carolina wine is made from a North Carolina product.  This means that wineries that produce wine from grapes, fruit, juice, or honey from California, South America, and/or Europe are NOT making local wine.  They’re making wine locally, but it’s not a North Carolina wine and can’t legally be labeled as such.  Think about that the next time you visit a local winery.  Ask where the grapes, fruit, or honey originated.  Look at the label.  Is it labeled accurately?  Inquire as to why local grapes, fruits, or honey weren’t used.  The “North Carolina doesn’t produce quality grapes” line no longer holds water.  The same goes for fruit or honey.  Drinkers of truly local North Carolina wine know better!   Let’s be sure our voices are heard.

We must insist that local wine bars and local restaurants sell locally grown and made North Carolina wine.  Farm to Fork restaurants and the like who aspire to serve food made from locally grown ingredients are quite hypocritical if they don’t have locally made wine on their menus.  The same would be said for locally made beer and spirits.  Let’s do our parts to help promote truly locally made wine. Remember the costumer is always right!

Finally, it’s ok to drink something other than locally made wine.  However, let’s be sure we do know the difference between a local wine and not.  And be sure that we don’t use the #NCWine and #NCFineWines to promote a wine that’s not truly local.  Just remember, drinking locally helps the local economy, which in turn helps you!

Let us know what drinking locally means to you! Cheers!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 2 comments
Food Pairings With North Carolina Wines

Food Pairings With North Carolina Wines

Food and wine have been enjoyed together throughout the ages. Each enhances the flavors and richness of the other. From holidays and other special occasions to a weeknight meal, food and wine are matches made in heaven.

Some of the NC Wines suggested for Food Pairings

Some of the NC Wines suggested for Food Pairings

We always pair our wine and food, but sometimes the task is not easy. In an attempt share some of our pairing experiences, here are some suggested food and North Carolina Wine Pairings (in no particular order).


  • BBQ – Lexington Style – If you’re a fan of Lexington Style BBQ, we recommend pairing it with the Barbera from Hutton Vineyards or the Barbera from Brandon Hills Vineyards.
  • BBQ – Eastern Style – If you prefer Eastern Style BBQ, we recommend the award winning Syrah from Misty Creek Vineyards.
  • Spicy Thai – Do you like spicy Thai? If not this pairing works with any spicy Asian food (Chinese, Thai, Indian). We recommend pairing it with the Estate Grown Dry Riesling from Dobbins Creek Vineyards or the Dry Muscadine from Overmountain Vineyards.
  • Lamb – Lamb is one of those meats that you either love or you hate. We love lamb. It’s unique from beef and is great as turned into meatballs or grilled or roasted. We always have our lamb with the Mourvèdre from Hanover Park Vineyard. It’s a classic pairing that you’ll love!
  • Chicken with Creamy Sauce – Chicken with a rich buttery sauce demands a buttery, barrel aged/fermented Chardonnay. Our go to Chardonnays are either the Barrel Aged Chardonnay from Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard & Winery or the Chardonnay from Mountain Brook Vineyards.
  • Steak – Steak calls for a big wine! Petit Verdot is one of those wines. We recommend the Petit Verdot from Jones von Drehle Vineyards & Winery.
  • Pasta and Tomato Sauce – Who doesn’t love pasta with a classic tomato sauce? Chianti is a classic pairing with tomato sauce, so why not have Chianti made in the Carolinas. Try the Sangiovese Riserva from Raffaldini Vineyards.
  • Grilled Sea Bass – Sea bass is a decadent fish. It’s rich and flavorful. Grill it with some olive oil and herbs, and you have perfection! A full-bodied white wine goes perfectly with the grilled sea bass. We recommend the Roussanne from Junius Lindsay Vineyard.
  • Chili – Chili with tomatoes, beans and a good bit of spice is a perfect meal for the cooler months. A big wine is the perfect accompaniment. We suggest the Estate Grown Zinfandel from Rag Apple Lassie.
  • Grilled Shrimp – Lightly seasoned and grilled shrimp are perfect on their own or in a nice, fresh salad. This calls for a light and delicate wine! We suggest the Pinot Gris from Laurel Gray Vineyards.
  • Soft White Cheese with Fig Spread – Ok, this one might seem a little odd, but trust us! Grab yourself a mild, soft white cheese. We recommend Yancey’s Fancy Champagne Cheddar. Get some fig spread or fig preserves. Slice the cheese and spread just a bit of the fig spread on top. Pair this was the Stainless Steel Chardonnay from Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery. Prepare to be amazed!
  • Brownies – Brownies are one of life’s simple pleasures. Chocolate that’s rich and slightly chewy. There’s not much better. A sweet chocolate treat calls for a warm, rich and slightly sweet wine. We recommend the Estate Bottled Port from Shelton Vineyards. This pairing is a great way to end a long day!


Try some of these and let us know what you think!

Posted by Joe Brock in Food, Wine, 1 comment
Getting the Most Out of Your Wine Tasting Experience

Getting the Most Out of Your Wine Tasting Experience

Visiting a winery’s tasting room is one of life’s simple pleasures. Each experience is unique. It’s a great way to experience a variety of wine and find something new to drink. If you’ve never had the experience or if it’s been awhile, here are some suggestions to make the most of your wine tasting experience.

The tasting room at Parker-Binns Vineyard - Photo Courtesy of Karen Parker-Binns

The tasting room at Parker-Binns Vineyard – Photo Courtesy of Karen Parker-Binns

  • Plan ahead! Check the winery’s hours. You don’t want to arrive within 30 minutes of closing and expect to taste. Most wineries stop tasting 30 minutes before closing. Some require a reservation.
  • Walk in and take a look around. If there’s line, patiently wait. Determine if you need to prepay for your tasting.
  • Don’t prematurely judge the experience by the look of the tasting room. We’ve had plenty of great tastings at hole in the wall wineries. The opposite is also true. The most opulent tasting room doesn’t necessarily mean the best wine.
  • Make your choices. Select a variety of wines. If you like sweet wine, pick at least one dry and vice versa. The same can be said for red vs white.
  • If a premium tasting is an option, take it. It’s premium for a reason.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask to taste something that’s not on a list. Often wineries will accommodate special requests.
  • It’s ok to share with a friend. This is especially true if you’re doing multiple tastings in a day. Most wineries allow this and will even split the amounts between glasses, so you don’t have to share one glass.
  • It’s ok to pour out wine even if you like it. Again, if you’re driving and/or doing multiple tastings in one day, you need to be able to remember what you’ve been tasting. Otherwise, you might end buying a bottle of wine you’ll hate later.
  • It’s ok to spit. This is another alternative to sharing and/or pouring out. If you’re not comfortable spitting directly in the dump bucket, ask for a small cup or another glass. Spit in that and then pour into the dump bucket.
  • This aerates the wine. It helps to open the wine up to its full smelling and tasting potential.
  • You taste what you smell. Try to pick out at least two distinct smells.
  • Check out the color, Color will tell you a lot about the health of the wine. You don’t want a red wine that’s got a brown edge. That means it’s likely too old.
  • Don’t gulp!
  • Hold the wine in your mouth for at least a second before swallowing or spitting. Do the tastes match the smells? Is there a difference between what you taste initially, the mid palate taste and the finish? Is the finish long or short?
  • Take notes! You want to be able to remember what you’ve been tasting. This will also help you later if you buy a bottle and want to pair it with food.
  • Have a cracker between different wines. You need to cleanse your palate. If crackers or other palate cleansers are not readily available, ask for them!
  • Don’t bring your children. Children are a HUGE distraction in tasting rooms. If they can’t drink the wine, they don’t belong there.
  • Be considerate of other tasters. Respect their space and their ears. Don’t be too loud.
  • Wine tasting should not be a way to get drunk! Don’t just gulp the wine. Your taster will not appreciate that and may refuse to serve you if you’re too far gone.
  • Engage with your taster. Ask questions about the wine. This helps your learn!


These are just a few suggestions to make the most out of your wine tasting experience! Let us know what you think! Cheers!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
American Wine  – There’s more than just California!

American Wine – There’s more than just California!

American Wine has exploded over the last twenty to thirty years. The number of wine regions and wine regions producing quality wine has helped with this explosion, but does the average American wine drinker really know that there are more wine regions than just California? Sadly, it seems not to be the case. For those of us who love drinking local wine, it seems we have some educating to do!


Sure California produces great wine. It also produces nearly 90% of the wine made in American. Grocery store wine aisles, restaurant wine lists and even local wine bars are all full of California wine. California is known for its big, bold reds with high alcohol content. We would argue that these wines are overdone and take away the true essence of grapes when compared to old world wines. For those who don’t know, old world refers to Europe and the Middle East from where wine grapes originated in nature.

US States with AVAs

There are 32 other wine producing states recognized as having an American Viticulture Area.

Given California’s dominance in producing American wine, how are other wine regions going to breakout? As the saying go, it takes a village! Those of us fortunate enough to live near other American wine regions need to step up our game. We need to get out and visit local wineries. We need to buy local wine. We need to insist that local restaurants, particularly those claiming to represent the local food movement, add local wine to their wine lists! We need to introduce our friends and family to local wine. We need to share our experiences on social media. We need to attend events at local wineries. In addition, when visiting local wineries, we need to make sure that local grapes are being used. If you’re not sure, ask! We need to insist on high quality. If a wine’s not good, say so. Let them know!


So, what wine regions should you look at besides California? We, of course, are partial to North Carolina. Quantity and quality have continued to improve. 2015 was a fantastic growing year across the state. We expect 2015 to be THE vintage in North Carolina. Washington and Oregon should be considered. They account for over 4% of the wine produced in America. Other areas to consider are Missouri, famous for Norton. If you haven’t tried Norton and you like big bold, jammy wines, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Texas is another upcoming and coming wine region going Spanish, Italian and Rhône Valley grapes well. New York with the Finger Lakes and Long Island is producing high quality wines. The Finger Lakes in particular are now regularly reviewed in major wine magazines like Wine Spectator. Finally, Virginia can’t be overlooked. Just like North Carolina, quantity and quality have increased over the last several years. Virginia is producing superb Petit Verdot, Petit Manseng and Viognier just to name a few!


American wine is diverse as our country. Let’s all do our part in helping make sure that diversity is better known. Drink local, explore new wine regions and share those experiences with others! There is more to American wine than California! Get out there and explore!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking: January 2016

What We’ve Been Drinking: January 2016

It’s hard to believe that we’re already one month in to 2016!  So far this month, we’ve posted about 16 wines from across the state.  Also worth noting was the North Carolina Winegrowers Conference that took place January 22, 23, and 24.  This annual meeting of wineries, vineyards, and wine fans  in Winston-Salem is a great opportunity to talk wine with the experts. This year we actually had the opportunity to lead a session on how wineries can make the most of their social media outlets. It was a lot of fun and we can’t wait until next year.

Back to the wine. Our January wine summaries are found below. Click on a picture to expand and read more about the wine.

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A quick note: We have taken a short break this past week that will continue into the early part of next week. Never fear, we’ll get to posting soon and will have a great recap when the month is over.

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 2 comments
A Look Back at 2015

A Look Back at 2015

It’s hard to believe that we’re already at the end of 2015.  Looking back at the past year, we’ve accomplished quite a bit and drank quite a lot of NC wine — 2015 was pretty big for the NC Wine Guys.  As we close out the year, we take a look back at some of the highlights of the year.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Holiday Dinner at Hanover Park

Holiday Dinner at Hanover Park

Another weekend, another wine dinner.  This time we had the pleasure of attending the annual holiday dinner at Hanover Park Vineyard.  Each December, Hanover Park throws a holiday celebration for its wine club members as a thank you for their loyalty and for always being there to support the winery.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in featured, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Flint Hill Vineyards Autumn Wine Dinner

Flint Hill Vineyards Autumn Wine Dinner

This past weekend, we had the pleasure of attending the Autumn Wine Dinner at Flint Hill Vineyards.  There are several reasons why you should consider going to events like these.  Not only do they offer a unique experience of the winery after hours, they also give you the opportunity to see what the winemaker feels would be a good pairing for their wines.  This dinner didn’t disappoint on either expectation.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in featured, Wineries and Vineyards, 1 comment
All good things must come to an end:  #AWS2015 Recap

All good things must come to an end: #AWS2015 Recap

The American Wine Society 2015 National Meeting concluded Sunday and a new week has begun.  The AWS 2015 conference was the first national meeting we attended.  We weren’t sure what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised! The conference started Thursday evening with the first timers reception and the grand showcase of Virginia Wines.  The following two days were filled with educational sessions, wine tastings, and a lot of fun.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Part 1 Ends, Part 2 Begins: AWS We’re Here!

Part 1 Ends, Part 2 Begins: AWS We’re Here!

The first part of our vacation has come to a close. While we were making our way up to the American Wine Society Annual Conference, we decided to visit  the Charlottesville area wineries and breweries.  All things considered, the first part of the week have been a welcome relaxing getaway.  We discovered several new favorite spots and will be making plans to rerun in the near future.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
On the Road to AWS 2015

On the Road to AWS 2015

It’s that time of year again where we take a few days off and enjoy a wine adventure. This year, we’ll be attending the American Wine Society annual conference in Tysons Corner Virginia. 

While we’re headed north, we’ll be stopping at several Virginia wineries, breweries, and ciderworks along the way. With a stop in Charlottesville early in the week, we’ll be in a great spot that has a variety of options. 

Keep checking back here for more updates. You can also follow our trip on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 

Twitter: @NCWineGuys

Facebook: NC Wine Guys

Instagram: @ncwineguys

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Piccione Grand Opening

Piccione Grand Opening

This past weekend was the grand opening for Piccione Vineyards.  The newest vineyard in Wilkes county is keeping it close to their Italian neighbors (Raffaldini Vineyards, that is).  Established in 2010, Dr. Bill Piccione of Chicago decided to embrace the red clay terrain and plant primarily Italian varietals.  With 16 acres under vine and plenty of room to expand, Piccione Vineyards has helped expand the Little Italy of the Appalachian foothills.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
NC Wine Month 2015 Listing

NC Wine Month 2015 Listing

It’s a wrap!  North Carolina Wine and Grape Month is now over!  We had a great month filled with NC wine.  Here’s the list of what we had:

North Carolina Wine and Grape Month

  • 9/1: Grüner Veltliner from Burntshirt Vineyards
  • 9/2: Raylen Tasting @ Crafty Beer Guys
  • 9/3: Cabernet Franc from Silver Fork Vineyards & Winery
  • 9/4: Selfish from Lazy Elm Winery
  • 9/5: Pinot Grigio from Mountain Brook Vineyards
  • 9/6: Nebbiolo from Grove Winery & Visit to Morgan Ridge Vineyards
  • 9/7: Warrior Red from Cellar 4201
  • 9/8: Sauvignon Blanc from Iron Gate Vineyards
  • 9/9: Chardonnay from Laurel Gray Vineyards
  • 9/10: Petit Verdot from Shelton Vineyards
  • 9/11: Cabernet Sauvignon from Parker-Binns Vineyards
  • 9/12: Blanc de Blancs from McRitchie Winery, Dry Riesling from Dobbins Creek Vineyards, Chambourcin from Misty Creek Vineyards, Barbera from Brandon Hills Vineyard, Apple Tipper from Fair Game Beverage Company
  • 9/13: Petit Manseng from Jones. Von Drehle
  • 9/14: Girasole from Raffaldini Vineyards
  • 9/15: Vineyard Brothers-Satisfied from Silk Hope Winery
  • 9/16: Cabernet Franc from South Creek Vineyards
  • 9/17: Vivace from Adagio Vineyards
  • 9/18: Special Delivery from Junius Lindsay Vineyards
  • 9/19: Soft White from Elkin Creek Vineyards
  • 9/20: Traminette from Misty Creek Vineyards
  • 9/21: Mourvèdre from Hanover Park Vineyard
  • 9/22: Sangiovese from Childress Vineyards
  • 9/23: Grey Ghost from JOLO Winery and Vinayards
  • 9/24: Barrel X from Stonefield Cellars Winery
  • 9/25: Centennial Farm Heritage from Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards
  • 9/26: Traminette Divine from Divine Llama Vineyards
  • 9/27: Taste of Our Carolina Foothills featuring Overmountain Vineyards, Mountain Brook Vineyards, Parker-Binns Vineyards, and Russian Chapel Hills Winery
  • 9/28: Shipwreck from Sanctuary Vineyards
  • 9/29: Tannat from Hererra Vineyards
  • 9/30: Red Bud Ridge from Brushy Mountain Winery


Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Sunday Adventures #5

Sunday Adventures #5

Sundays are wine adventure days for us. We typically invite a few friends to join us as we expand their horizons of the NC wine scene. Although we did invite a friend, we didn’t get a confirmation. So instead of letting a Sunday go to waste, we continued on ourselves. 

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
Summer Wine Pick Up at Raffaldini

Summer Wine Pick Up at Raffaldini

This past weekend was the wine pick up for Raffaldini Vineyards. Over the past seven years, Raffaldini has grown a loyal following. This is due not only to the great wine that they produce, but also because owner and winemaker Jay Raffaldini shows such passion for what he does.   Twice a year, Jay and his team holds a wine pick up party for his wine club members. At each pick up there are six bottles of wine, a sampling of new releases paired with authentic Italian food, and a short info session about the happenings at the winery and what’s next.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments

Salute! 2015

We’re headed off to Salute! The North Carolina Wine Celebration in downtown Winston-Salem.  We’ll be posting updates and pictures throughout the day as time allows.  Check back often and we hope to see you there!

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Sunday Adventures #4

Sunday Adventures #4

Sundays are wine adventure days for us. We typically invite a few friends to join us as we expand their horizons of the NC wine scene. Today we were joined by our friend Susan.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Burntshirt Vineyards

Burntshirt Vineyards

Western North Carolina is surely one of the most picturesque regions of the state.  The Blue Ridge Mountains tower over the western part of the state creating an isolated feel that is truly relaxing.  One of the many benefits of the mountains is that it also creates a unique climate that sees moderately short winters with long summers.  The summer days are hot, but the evenings are cooler making this a great area to grow wine grapes.  Burntshirt Vineyards is one of the few that are taking advantage of this unique area.  We recently received an invitation to visit the vineyard and winery to take a detailed look at their process and taste their offerings.

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Posted by Matt Kemberling in featured, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments

Virginia Adventures Day 4

Day four brought us to the close of our journey in
Virginia. As we made our way back down the highway from Northern
Virginia through the Appalachian Mountains in the Shenandoah
Valley, we decided to make a few last stops. Although we didn’t
stop at many wineries, we were still able to make it to three.
 All three are great locations and you should plan a visit
if you’re in the area.  Our first stop was Cave Ridge Vineyard.
 There we were presented with two tasting options. We
could either taste the standard offering, or we could extend the
tasting and enjoy their port-style and dessert wines. Being port
lovers, we naturally decided to try it all. On the standard
tasting, there were a few wines that stood out. One of our
favorites was the 2013 Viognier. This particular wine was barrel
aged, which gave it a nice oaky nose and flavor with a drop of
vanilla. Also notable was the 2013 Riesling. This French style
Riesling was slightly carbonated, giving it a crisp and dry body.
There was a bit of acidity to the wine that gave it a nice firm
backbone. The port-style wines were tasty as well. They offered a
red made from Chambourcin and a white made of Viognier. Both were
quite tasty and complex with the red showing toasty butterscotch
and the white being smooth and tropical.  Our next stop
was just down the road at the Winery at Kindred
 Still slightly young, this winery is
doing well. They offer a wine tasting as well as a cider tasting.
We opted for the wine tasting and were eager for the first pour. On
the menu were two Chardonnays.  The first was bright and
acidic with a hint of oak and a mellow buttery flavor. The second
was more traditional with a bigger oak nose and a creamy and nutty
flavor. Our favorite was the 2013 Malbec. This light red had cherry
and vanilla on the nose. It was slightly jammy with a red currant
finish. The light tannins were vibrant and playful and lingered for
only a minute before finishing cleanly.  Our last stop of
the day was a bit farther down the highway in Staunton,
Virginia. Ox Eye
 Ox Eye Vineyards is one stop we will
always try to make whenever we’re in the area. Their new releases
are coming soon, but their current offerings are at also great. The
2013 Dry Riesling is ripe with a honey nose and has really mellowed
out since the last time we tasted it (just last year). It has a
good balance of acids and honeysuckle with a light citrus finish.
Their 2012 Pinot Noir was mild and jammy with a hint of
strawberries and black cherries. Finally their 2012 Cabernet Franc
had a rich nose with a delicate spice on the mid-palate. With each
sip, the spices continued to build until it faded into a long and
lingering finish. 

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments