NC State Fair Wine Competition

NC State Fair Wine Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for your support of #NCWine!  Cheers!

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

June, 2017 – Visit to Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards

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

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

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


Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Ciders

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

Hundreds of newly planted apple tree from Normandy

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

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


Tasting with Fran

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

White Wines and Dry Cider

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

Red Wines

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

Dessert Wines

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

Visit with Alan

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

Vineyards outside Saint Paul Mountain’s Tasting Room

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

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

June, 2017 – Visit to Burntshirt Vineyards

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

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


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

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

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

The Horse Barn at Burntshirt Vineyards


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

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

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

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

Wine Barrels at Burntshirt Vineyards

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

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


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

A Spotlight on Petit Manseng in North Carolina

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

Continue reading →

Posted by Matt Kemberling in Wine, 0 comments
Unofficial Wine Holiday List

Unofficial Wine Holiday List

Wine and holidays go hand and hand.  Whether is having wine to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s OR celebrating wine itself, it’s important to celebrate with gusto!  Below are is our unofficial list of wine holidays that we’ve taken from various sources.  Use this as your guide for what to drink and when!  Also, be sure to join the conversation on social media by tagging the official wine holiday pages/account.  Don’t forget those hashtags too!  They’re even more important!

Month Day Holiday Facebook Twitter Instagram Hashtag
February 18 National Drink Wine Day @drinkwineday @drinkwineday #DrinkWineDay
Last Saturday Open That Bottle Night @OpenThatBottleNight @OpenThatBtl #OTBN
March 3 National Mulled Wine Day #MulledWineDay
April 17 Malbec World Day @celebratemalbecworldday @MalbecWorldDay @MalbecWorldDay #MalbecWorldDay
24 International Sauvignon Blanc Day #SauvBlancDay
May 9 National Moscato Day #MoscatoDay
25 National Wine Day @wineday @wineday @nationalwineday #NationalWineDay
Thursday before Memorial Day International Chardonnay Day @ChardonnayDay @Chardonnay_day @Chardonnay_day #ChardDay
June Second Saturday National Rosé Day @nationalroseday @nationalroseday #NationalRoséDay
August 1 National Albariño Day #AlbariñoDay
First Saturday Mead Day #MeadDay
14 International Rosé Day #RoséDay
18 Pinot Noir Day #PinotNoir
August / September Thursday before
Labor Day
International Cabernet Day #CabernetDay
September All Month NC Wine Month @ncwines @ncwines @ncwines #NCWineMonth
International Grenache Day @GrenacheDay @grenacheday @grenacheday #GrenacheDay
October Second
Drink Local Wine Week @DrinkLocalWine @DrinkLocalWine #DrinkLocal
November 7 International Merlot Day #MerlotDay
Second Thursday International Tempranillo Day @TempranilloDay #TempranilloDay
Third Wednesday Zinfandel Day #ZinDay
Third Thursday Beaujolais Nouveau Day @BeaujolaisNow #BeaujolaisNouveau
24 Carménère Day @CarmenereDay #CarmenereDay
December 4 Cabernet Franc Day @CABFRANCDAY #CabFrancDay
5 Prohibition Repeal Day @RepealDay &
@RepealDay #RepealDay
20 National Sangria Day #SangriaDay
31 Champagne or other Sparkling Wine Day #SparklingWineDay



In addition to the holidays above don’t forget these weekly celebrations:

  • #WineWednesday – This is a weekly celebration of wine on social media.  It often trends, so it’s a great way to join a larger social media conversation.
  • #SundayFunday – This is another weekly celebration of fun things to do on a Sunday.  It also treads on social media.

And ALWAYS remember to use #NCWine (NOT #ncwines) when talking about North Carolina Wine on social media!  #NCWine has a larger post volume and is more recognizable!  Finally, #DrinkLocal is also another great national hashtag to use.  Happy drinking and posting!  Cheers!

Posted by Joe Brock in Wine, 0 comments
NC Wineries Perfect for Summer Picnicking!

NC Wineries Perfect for Summer Picnicking!

Summer is the perfect time for a picnic!  It’s also the perfect time for wine.  Why not combine the two for a wonderful afternoon of fun?  Just pack your picnic basket and head to any of these wineries (or others in the state).  Here are some of our suggestions (in no particular order) for great wine and picnic adventures.

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Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard & Winery – Lawndale, NC
Baker Buffalo Creek is located in Lawndale, NC just northwest of Shelby in Cleveland County.  An old dairy farm that’s now a vineyard.  Its red barn has been featured in in a couple Hillshire Farms commercials.  Picnic in the sun, under a shade tree or underneath the covered porch or milk barn.  For wine, we recommend the Barrel-Aged Chardonnnay!  It’s always a crowd-pleaser.

Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery – Morganton, NC
Silver Fork sits near the South Mountains in Burke County. The view is stellar any time of year. Also, you don’t even have to pack a picnic here.  Enjoy the fantastic food from Farm to Fork Eatery.  You won’t be disappointed.  For wine, we recommend the Chardonnay which comes from some of the oldest Chardonnay vines in the state!

Roaring River Vineyards – Traphill, NC
Roaring River sits right on the Roaring River not far from Stone Mountain State Park.  If you’re looking for a serene getaway, this is for you.  Sit on the deck by the river and listen to the water flow.  And don’t worry about being interrupted by a phone call.  Your cell phone probably won’t work here.  As an added bonus, food is available from their onsite restaurant, so “picnic” while enjoying full service.  We recommend the Viognier for your wine choice!

Parker-Binns Vineyard & Winery – Mill Spring, NC
Parker-Binns is located in Polk County between Forest City and Hendersonville and not far from Lake Lure.  Enjoy views of the vineyard and surrounding mountains.  If you come on Sundays, enjoy free wood fired pizza from the oven.  There’s often live music too.  And say cheese, as you’re bound to get your photo taken for sharing on Parker-Binns Facebook page.  We recommend the Rosé which will pair with anything you’re eating!

Hanover Park Vineyard – Yadkinville, NC
Hanover Park is the oldest winery in Yadkin County and oldest continuously operated winery in the Yadkin Valley.  Enjoy a picnic out in the sun or under one of the large, old shade trees near the over 100 year old farmhouse which serves as the tasting room.  We recommend the Viognier.  It goes perfectly with a warm summer day.

Davesté Vineyards – Troutman, NC
Davesté Vineyards is located in Troutman, NC near Lake Norman. Picnic underneath the trees or under the covered pavilion. Live music is often featured. There’s also Davesté beer for those who prefer beer to wine.  For the wine choice, we recommend the Rkatsiteli!  Davesté is the only winery in North Carolina which produces an estate Rkatsiteli.

What are your favorite wine and picnic spots?  Leave us a comment or share with us on social media.  And on social media, don’t forget #NCWine!


Posted by Joe Brock in Food, Wine, Wineries and Vineyards, 0 comments
What We’ve Been Drinking — May 2017

What We’ve Been Drinking — May 2017

May has 31 days. And with that many days, there are plenty of opportunities to drink some great North Carolina Wine. We did just that. The weather also was quite amazing, so we ended up taking a few weekends and visiting some wineries we haven’t been able to get to in a while. Also, toward the end of the month, we celebrated a milestone birthday in the only way we know how, with wine!

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
A Spotlight on Roussanne and Petite Sirah

A Spotlight on Roussanne and Petite Sirah

Let’s take a minute to talk about two lesser known wine grapes, one red and one white. If you easily get fatigued from Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, these will be two varietals you need to try. The grapes in the spotlight are Roussanne and Petite Sirah. Both grapes are capable of producing a robust wine that can offer a welcome alternative to the more popular choices.

Continue reading →

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

What We’ve Been Drinking — April 2017

April showers bring May flowers. The onset of spring has the vineyards starting up their growing season. We made it out and about to a few wineries this month and ended up featuring around 20 wines. We’ve already got a few plans for next month so stay tuned on social media for what we’ll be up to.

In the meantime, 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 — March 2017

What We’ve Been Drinking — March 2017

In like a lion and out like a lamb, they say. March has come to a close and with it starts the growing season in the vineyards. The vines are starting to wake up and bud break is eminently upon us (for better or worse). Midway through the month, we were lucky enough to attend the Showcase of Fine North Carolina Wines. This showcase featured the twelve winning wines in the NC Fine Wines competition. More details on that in our post soling soon.

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