American Viticultural Area

In the Wine Light – Henderson County Cider, Wine, & Dine Weekend

In the Wine Light – Henderson County Cider, Wine, & Dine Weekend

Visit Hendersonville

In the Wine Light we celebrate Henderson County, NC’s Cider, Wine, and Dine Weekend!  This annual event is back for 2021 following a break in 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.  This year’s event runs from April 15 – 18.

Per the website and press release, “The Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend features Henderson County wineries and cideries partnering together to create a signature weekend surrounded by all things cider, wine and food!  It is an action-packed weekend filled with artisan hard cider, award-winning wines, a variety of food, educational programs, live music, facility tours and more.”

All CDC guidelines for COVID-19 will be followed.

Participants include:

Tasting Room - Appalachian Ridge

Tasting Room Pre-Pandemic – Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Cider – Hendersonville, NC

Barrel Room at Burntshirt

Barrel Room at Burntshirt Vineyards – Hendersonville, NC

Vineyard and Blue Ridge at Marked Tree Vineyard - Flat Rock, NC

Vineyard and Blue Ridge Mountains at Marked Tree Vineyard – Flat Rock, NC

Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards - Hendersonville, NC

Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards – Hendersonville, NC

Stone Ashe Vineyards - Hendersonville, NC

Stone Ashe Vineyards – Hendersonville, NC

Activities include wine and cider tastings, live music, and more!  For a full list of activities, download the event brochure.

Henderson County has a rich history of agriculture and agro-tourism.  It is the largest apple growing county in North Carolina producing 85% of North Carolina’s apple crop.  This Cider, Wine, and Dine Weekend coincides with peak apple blossom time.

Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County AVA

Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County AVA – Elevation Map

In addition to apples, Henderson County is now known for growing grapes as well.  It’s home to North Carolina’s newest American Viticultural Area, Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County.  It’s one of our favorite spots in North Carolina, so we recommend you go check it out too!

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #CrestOfTheBlueRidgeHendersonCountyAVA #CiderWineDineWeekend

 

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In the Wine Light – Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County AVA

In the Wine Light – Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County AVA

AVAs for North Carolina

American Viticultural Areas in North Carolina

In the Wine Light we continue our series on American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in North Carolina.  Our focus in this post is the sixth AVA in North Carolina, the Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County.  This is the newest AVA in the state located in most of Henderson County, NC including the town of Hendersonville.

Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County AVA

Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County AVA – Elevation Map

The petition for creating the Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County AVA originated from Mark Williams, the executive director of Agribusiness Henderson County, and Barbara Walker, the county extension support specialist for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, on behalf of local vineyards and winery operators.  This AVA straddles the Eastern Continental Divide in Henderson County.  The larger area is known as the Crest of the Blue Ridge, so to make it clear the location of the AVA, “Henderson County” was added to the name.

Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards - Hendersonville, NC

Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards – Hendersonville, NC

The Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County AVA is distinguished from the surrounding areas and other AVAs due to topography and climate.  At the time of the petition to establish the AVA, there were 14 vineyards and 2 wineries.  As of this writing, there are four additional tasting rooms open in the AVA.

Burntshirt Vineyards - Hendersonville, NC

Burntshirt Vineyards – Hendersonville, NC

Per the petition, the crest separates two physiographic provinces, the Blue Ridge Escarpment, which covers the southern and eastern portions of the AVA, and the Blue Ridge Plateau, which covers the northern and western portions of the AVA. The Blue Ridge Escarpment rises steeply, so that this region of the  AVA has an average elevation more than 950 feet higher than the region immediately south, and more than 1,200 feet higher than the region immediately east.

Stone Ashe Vineyards - Hendersonville, NC

Stone Ashe Vineyards – Hendersonville, NC

The growing season averages between 200 and 220 days within the AVA.  This is shorter than the growing season to the south and east of the AVA but slightly longer than the growing season to the north and west of the AVA.  Annual precipitation is lower than regions to the south, east, and west of the AVA but higher than the region north of the AVA.

Vineyard and Blue Ridge at Marked Tree Vineyard - Flat Rock, NC

Vineyard and Blue Ridge Mountains at Marked Tree Vineyard – Flat Rock, NC

The Hendersonville area is a wonderful tourist destination that’s often less busy than Asheville.  The AVA is producing some outstanding wines including wonderful Rieslings, Chardonnays, Cabernet Francs, and Cabernet Sauvignons.  Be sure to go visit and see for yourself.

Quick Facts

Name:  Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County

Petitioner:  Mark Williams, the executive director of Agribusiness Henderson County, and Barbara Walker, the county extension support specialist for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, on behalf of local vineyards and winery operators

Effective Date:  August 19, 2019

Square Miles:  215

Counties within boundaries:  Most of Henderson County, NC

Geography:  Elevation ranges from 1394 ft to over 4396 ft with mean elevation of 2362 ft

Climate:  The mean annual temperature is 55.5 degrees with a growing season that averages 200 – 220 days.

Source:  TTB Website

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #CrestOfTheBlueRidgeHendersonCountyAVA

 

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 0 comments
In the Wine Light – Appalachian High Country AVA

In the Wine Light – Appalachian High Country AVA

AVAs for North Carolina

American Viticultural Areas in North Carolina

In the Wine Light we continue our series on American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in North Carolina.  Our focus in this post is the fifth AVA in North Carolina, the Appalachian High Country.  This is North Carolina’s second AVA shared with another state.  In this case, it’s two states, Tennessee and Virginia.

Linville Falls Winery - Linville Falls, NC

Linville Falls Winery – Linville Falls, NC

The petition for creating the Appalachian High Country AVA originated from Johnnie James, owner of Bethel Valley Farms on behalf of the High Country Wine Growers Association.  The area has been known as the High Country for many years due to the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains.

Banner Elk Winery - Banner Elk, NC

Banner Elk Winery – Banner Elk, NC

The Appalachian High Country AVA is distinguished from the surrounding areas and other AVAs due to topography, climate, and soils.  At the time of the petition to establish the AVA, there were 21 vineyards and 10 wineries.

Due to the shorter growing season and cooler climate of the high country, hybrids are popular grape varieties.  Seyval Blanc, Marquette, Marechal Foch, Frontenac, and Vidal Blanc are popular varieties.  You can also find vinifera varieties in smaller quantities such as Riesling and Pinot Noir.

Vineyard at Grandfather Mountain Vineyard  & Winery - Banner Elk, NC

Vineyard at Grandfather Mountain Vineyard & Winery – Banner Elk, NC

Also, most vineyards are planted on slopes with angles of 30 degrees or greater.  This also means vineyards tend to be terraced to prevent erosion.  Due to this harvesting is mostly done by hand.

The High Country is a popular destination in any time of year.  From Christmas tree farms and skiing in the winter to the blooms of late spring and summer to the colorful leaves of fall, there’s plenty to enjoy year round.  Plus, there’s great wine too!

Quick Facts

Name:  Appalachian High Country

Petitioner:  Johnnie James, owner of Bethel Valley Farms on behalf of the High Country Wine Growers Association

Effective Date:  November 28, 2016

Square Miles:  2,400

Counties within boundaries:  All or Portions of Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, and Watauga Counties in North Carolina; Carter and Johnson Counties in Tennessee; and Grayson County in Virginia

Geography:  Elevation ranges from 1338 ft to over 6000 ft with most vineyards planted between 2290 ft to 4630 ft

Climate:  The average annual temperature is 51.5 degrees with a growing season that averages 139 days.

Soil:  Derived from igneous and metamorphic rocks such as granite and gneiss; Well-drained with a fine, loamy texture

Source:  TTB Website

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #AppalachianHighCountry

 

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In the Wine Light – Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA

In the Wine Light – Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA

AVAs for North Carolina

American Viticultural Areas in North Carolina

In the Wine Light we continue our series on American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in North Carolina.  Our focus in this post is the fourth AVA in North Carolina, the Upper Hiwassee Highlands.

Hiwassee River Basin

Hiwassee River Basin

The petition for creating the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA originated from Eric Carlson, owner of Calaboose Cellars, on behalf of himself and members of the Vineyard and Winery Operators of the Upper Hiwassee River Basin group.

FernCrest Winery Tasting Room - Andrews, NC

FernCrest Winery Tasting Room – Andrews, NC

The Upper Hiwassee Highlands name was chosen due to the AVA’s location along the upper portions of the Hiwassee River, from the river’s headwaters in Towns County, Georgia, to the Hiwassee Dam on Hiwassee Lake in Cherokee County, North Carolina. The portion of the river that flows north of the dam, outside the proposed viticultural area, is often referred to as the “lower” river.  Highlands denotes the high, rugged, regions of the southern portion of the Appalachians and are terms used by businesses and organizations within the AVA.

 
Nottely River Valley Vineyards Tasting Room - Murphy, NC

Nottely River Valley Vineyards Tasting Room – Murphy, NC

Upper Hiwasee Highlands was the first AVA in North Carolina to be shared with another state, in this case, Georgia.  It covers portions of Cherokee and Clay counties in southwestern North Carolina and portions of Town, Union, and Fannin Counties in northern Georgia.

Nottely River Valley Vineyards - Murphy, NC

Nottely River Valley Vineyards – Murphy, NC

At the time of the petition in 2013 there were 26 commercial vineyards located throughout the proposed viticultural area, growing approximately 54 acres of French-American hybrids, American grape varieties, and Vitis vinifera.

Today the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA continues to produce top quality grapes and wines.  From the scenic mountain views to the quaint mountain towns and friendly people, it’s a great wine destination for North Carolina.

Quick Facts

Name:  Upper Hiwassee Highlands

Petitioner:  Eric Carlson, owner of Calaboose Cellars, on behalf of himself and members of the Vineyard and Winery Operators of the Upper Hiwassee River Basin group

Effective Date:  August 14, 2014

Square Miles:  690

Counties within boundaries:  Portions of Cherokee and Clay in North Carolina and Towns, Union, and Fannin in Georgia

Geography:  Elevation ranges from 2000 to 2400 ft which is lower than most of the surrounding area and the AVA boundary approximating the boundary of the watershed for the upper portion of the Hiwassee River

Climate:  Warmer than the surrounding regions to the north, east, and south and slightly cooler than the region to the west with 161 to 168 freeze free days 

Soil:  Deep, moderately to well drained, and moderately fertile

Source:  TTB Website

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #UpperHiwasseeHighlands

 

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In the Wine Light – Haw River Valley AVA

In the Wine Light – Haw River Valley AVA

AVAs for North Carolina

American Viticultural Areas in North Carolina

In the Wine Light we continue our series on American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in North Carolina.  Our focus in this post is the third AVA in North Carolina, the Haw River Valley.

Haw River

Haw River

The petition for creating the Haw River Valley AVA originated from Patricia McRitchie on behalf of local grape growers and winemakers.  The Haw River Valley name was chosen because the Haw River.  

Grove Winery - Gibsonville, NC

Grove Winery – Gibsonville, NC

The Haw River’s name is derived from the Sissipahaw Native Americans who once lived in small villages along the river.  The boundaries of the AVA are composed of nearly all of the Haw River’s watershed.  At the time of the petition there were over 60 acres of vineyards and 6 wineries within the proposed boundaries.

Grapes growing at Grove Winery - Gibsonville, NC

Grapes growing at Grove Winery – Gibsonville, NC

Today the Haw River Valley continues to be an important wine growing region for North Carolina.  Situated between the booming Research Triangle and the Piedmont Triad, it’s easily accessible from two of North Carolina’s largest metropolitan areas.

Quick Facts

Name:  Haw River Valley

Petitioner:  Patricia McRitchie on behalf of local grape growers and winemakers

Effective Date:  April 29, 2009

Square Miles:  868

Counties within boundaries:  Portions of Guilford, Alamance, Caswell, Chatham, Orange, and Rockingham

Geography:  Elevation ranges from 350 ft in the southeastern corner of the boundary to over 800 ft in the northwestern corner

Climate:  Temperatures are moderate with more precipitation as compared to the surrounding areas. The growing season and frost-free days generally run from April 1 to November 1.

Soil:  Variety of soil types that are deep and well drained;  These tend to be acidic with low fertility.

Source:  TTB Website

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #HawRiverValley

 

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In the Wine Light – Swan Creek AVA

In the Wine Light – Swan Creek AVA

AVAs for North Carolina

American Viticultural Areas in North Carolina

In the Wine Light we continue our series on American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in North Carolina.  Our focus in this post is the second oldest and only AVA to overlap another AVA in North Carolina, the Swan Creek AVA.

Raffaldini Vineyards - Ronda, NC

Raffaldini Vineyards – Ronda, NC

The petition for creating the Swan Creek AVA originated from Raffaldini Vineyards on behalf of the original Vineyards of the Swan Creek trade association.  The Swan Creek name was chosen because the community in the center of the AVA is known as Swan Creek.  Also, East and West Swan Creeks run north from the Brushy Mountains and form Swan Creek which empties into the Yadkin River three miles west of Jonesville.

Merlot growing at Shadow Springs Vineyard - Hamptonville, NC

Merlot growing at Shadow Springs Vineyard – Hamptonville, NC

After the Civil War, farming become a primary focus of the area which continues today.  At the time of the petition in 2006, there were three wineries and 75 acres of vineyard within the proposed AVA’s boundaries.

Budbreak at Laurel Gray Vineyards - Hamptonville, NC

Budbreak at Laurel Gray Vineyards – Hamptonville, NC

Today, the Swan Creek AVA is home many more acres of vineyards with seven tasting rooms.  More tasting rooms, vineyards, and wineries will be opening within the next few years.  Currently, the Swan Creek AVA has the most dense concentration of vineyards and wineries in North Carolina.

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Piccione Vineyards - Ronda, NC

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains from Piccione Vineyards – Ronda, NC

Quick Facts

Name:  Swan Creek

Petitioner:  Raffaldini Vineyards on behalf of the original Vineyards of Swan Creek Association

Effective Date:  May 27, 2008

Acres:  96,000

Counties within boundaries:  Portions of Wilkes, Yadkin, and Iredell

Overlap with Yadkin Valley:  The northern 60% of the Swan Creek AVA is also a part of the Yadkin Valley AVA.  The lower 40% is outside of the boundaries of the Yadkin Valley.

Geography:  Elevation ranges from 1000 ft to 2000 ft within the AVA boundaries with the Brushy Mountain being a prominent feature

Climate:  Temperatures and precipitation are slightly cooler and less wet than the rest of the Yadkin Valley partly due to the Brushy Mountains

Soil:  Primarily saprolite, a soft, clay-rich soil derived from weathered felsic (acidic) metamorphic rocks of the Inner Piedmont Belt such as granites, schists, and gneisses

Source:  TTB Website

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #SwanCreek

 

 

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In the Wine Light – Yadkin Valley AVA

In the Wine Light – Yadkin Valley AVA

AVAs for North Carolina

American Viticultural Areas in North Carolina

In the Wine Light we continue our series on American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in North Carolina.  Our focus in this post is the oldest and largest AVA in North Carolina, the Yadkin Valley.

Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, NC

The petition for creating the Yadkin Valley AVA originated from Patricia McRitchie on behalf of Shelton Vineyards.  The Yadkin Valley name was chosen because the area had been known as the Yadkin Valley since pre-colonial days with the Yadkin River being a prominent feature of the area.

Vineyard #1 at Westbend Vineyards – The first Vinifera planting in the Yadkin Valley

At the end of the 20th Century, the once thriving tobacco growing region was turning to a new crop, wine grapes.  At the time of the petition there were over 30 growers within the original boundaries of the AVA and 3 bonded wineries.

Cabernet Sauvignon growing at Hanover Park – The second winery in the Yadkin Valley

A petition by Alliston Stubbs of Cedar Ridge Vineyards in Reeds, NC asked to include additional land in Davie and Davidson Counties in the new AVA.  This petition was accepted. Other petitions to expand the area of the AVA were denied.

Yadkin Valley AVA

Boundaries of the Yadkin Valley AVA

Today the Yadkin Valley is home to some of the most premier wineries in North Carolina.  New vineyards are being planted and new wineries are coming online.  The region and AVA are fast becoming a wine tourism destination.

Quick Facts

Name:  Yadkin Valley

Petitioner:  Patricia McRitchie on behalf of Shelton Vineyards

Effective Date:  February 7, 2003

Acres:  1,416,000

Counties within boundaries:  Wilkes, Surry, Yadkin, and portions of Stokes, Forsyth, Davie, and Davidson

Geography:  Elevation ranges from 3800 ft in Northwest Wilkes County to 694 in Northwest Davie County. Latitude is between 36°00′ and 36°30′ N.

Climate:  Temperatures and precipitation are moderate as compared to the surrounding areas. The growing season and frost-dates fall within the optimum range for cultivation of premium vinifera grapes.

Soil:  Soils are mostly clay with clay or fine Loamy subsoils with good drainage.  The tend to be acidic with low fertility.

Source:  Federal Register

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #YadkinValley

 

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In the Wine Light – American Viticultural Areas

In the Wine Light – American Viticultural Areas

AVAs for North Carolina

American Viticultural Areas in North Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#InTheWineLight #NCWine #AVA

Posted by Joe Brock in In the Wine Light, 3 comments