NC Muscadine Grapes and Wine

NC Muscadines Delight the Taste Buds

August is now North Carolina Grape Month.  To celebrate, the North Carolina Muscadine Association recently hosted a virtual tasting of muscadine grapes and wine with local media, bloggers, and social media influencers.  We were fortunate enough to take part on the second day of this event.

The Mothervine on Roanoke Island in Manteo, NC

The Mothervine on Roanoke Island in Manteo, NC

Native Grape

Muscadines are the indigenous grape variety of the southeast.  The oldest known cultivated grape vine in the United States is a scuppernong vine on Roanoke Island in Manteo known as The Mothervine.  Scuppernong is a muscadine variety that’s also the state fruit of North Carolina.

The association sent a package that contained seven different muscadine grapes varieties along with a bottle of muscadine wine.  The grapes included fresh market as well as wine grapes.  Fresh market grapes are grown for eating.  Wine grapes are obviously grown for wine.  Fresh market grapes tend to be sweeter and less acidic than wine grapes.

Grape Tasting

The tasting was led by Kristen Baughman Taber of Tabletop Media Group and Debby Wechsler, Executive Secretary of the Muscadine Association.  Debby walked us through the proper way to eat a muscadine grape.  You place the stem scar facing your mouth.  Then you squeeze or bite the grape. Next, you decide to chew the skins and seeds or spit them out.

We then tasted through five fresh market grapes.  Three were white/bronze grapes:  Triumph, Tara, and Hall.  Two were red grapes:  Supreme and Lane.  These fresh market grapes had been sourced from Hinnant Family Vineyards in Pine Level, NC.  While all had a common grapey flavor, there were subtle differences particularly when chewing with the skins.

We finished by tasting the two main muscadine wine grapes, Carlos, a white/bronze grape, and Noble, a black/red grape.  Carlos is the most widely planted muscadine variety in North Carolina.  Both grapes have smaller berries than any of the fresh market varieties we tasted.  The wine grapes came from LuMil Vineyard in Elizabethtown, NC.


Wine Tasting

After the grape tasting, we moved on to our favorite part, the wine tasting.  Winemaker Nadia Hetzel of Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram, NC led us through a tasting of the off dry muscadine wine, Livy Estate.  Livy is 100% Carlos and is a beautiful wine.  The nose is similar to a Riesling as well as the palate.  It is nicely acidic and a joy to drink.

Muscadine Grape Extract Research

Following the wine tasting, Dr. Patricia Gallagher of Wake Forest University School of Medicine talked to us about the research into the potential health benefits of muscadine grape extract.  It’s exciting research and holds great promise in helping those with cancer.  To learn more about it, visit this link.

Thanks again to the North Carolina Muscadine Association, Tabletop Media Group, Hinnant Family Vineyards, LuMil Vineyards, and Cypress Bend Vineyards for a great tasting and celebration of North Carolina Grape Month!

Posted by Joe Brock

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