Wine & Grape Month in Asheville
1075 words (5 min read)
In the late 1500s, North Carolina became the home to our nation's first cultivated wine grape when explorers for Sir Walter Raleigh first noticed wild scuppernong grapes growing on Roanoke Island.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the wine industry flourished, and things were going well in the state's wine business until 1919. That was the beginning of prohibition and when the state's alcoholic beverage of choice to produce turned from wine to moonshine.
But when prohibition was repealed in 1933, growing grapes for wine production picked up again, and along with new rules and regulations and formation of the North Carolina Grape Council, the wine industry has now grown to play a major role in the agricultural income totals in North Carolina.
The state now has over 120 wineries and over 400 commercial grape growers, employing about 7,600 people across the state. It is estimated that these businesses alone contribute more than $1.28 billion to North Carolina’s economy. In support of this growing state industry, Governor Pat McCrory has named September North Carolina Wine and Grape Month.
If you’re a wine consumer, connoisseur, wine appreciator or are just beginning to train your palate, this section is for you. Wine is a growing and fascinating part of our culture and it’s been a mainstay of industry in North Carolina for over a century. The "Five S's to Wine Tasting" will get you started for tasting North Carolina’s world-renowned wines. Above all, enjoy!
Five S's to Wine Tasting
Pour about an ounce of wine in a clear, stemmed glass; hold the glass by the stem. Raise your glass in front of a white background and tip it slightly away from you. Check for clarity and brilliance. If the wine is dull and cloudy, something is wrong. Next, note the color and intensity of its hue. These two factors change as wine ages and are often clues to its condition and quality. As white wines age, shades of light straw with hues of yellow change to tones of full straw and gold. As red wines mature, their purple or violet tones first become ruby, then brownish-orange.
Grasp the glass firmly by the stem with one hand. Gently swirl the glass so the wine laps up the sides of the glass. Observe how the wine trickles back down. The clear tear-like streams on the side of the glass are called "legs". The thickness of the legs will give you a clue as to how full-bodied the wine is. For the next step, swirl the wine again to get the most concentrated smell of the wine.
Now raise the glass to your nose and sniff deeply. Your nose will tell you about 75 percent of what you want to know about a wine. An experienced taster can detect and distinguish hundreds of smells - and so can you. The majority of these smells are everyday scents. All it takes is practice.
Take a good sip. The taste of the wine in your mouth should confirm what your nose already told you.
As you swish the wine through your mouth, your taste buds will note the presence of fruit, acidity, and alcohol. If tannins are present, your cheeks will feel an astringent puckering sensation, as is often the case with red wine. (This is the same way your cheeks feel when you drink a strong cup of tea.) The tip of your tongue will detect the wine's degree of sweetness, something your nose cannot do. Check for a balance of all the tastes you sense. Now swallow and savor the taste. The longer the taste stays in your mouth after swallowing, the higher the quality of the wine.
Whether it’s sipping a favorite N.C. wine or enjoying grapes directly off the vine, there are plenty of ways for people to celebrate N.C. Wine and Grape Month. Create your own winery tour for a fun afternoon. Talk to the winemakers and stroll through the vineyards. Many have special events, including live music. Or join others in your love for wine and take a guided tour of wineries near Asheville.
In 2015, the winery is proudly celebrating its 30th anniversary. Experience Biltmore’s historic winery and savor complimentary tastings, relax at the wine bar and enhance your wine knowledge with specialty tastings and tours. Plus enjoy shopping all Biltmore wines and distinctive products to complete your visit. A guided tour of the Winery and complimentary wine tasting are included with Biltmore estate admission, and they offer a variety of additional add-on winery experiences.
Address: 1 Lodge Street, Asheville, NC. Located in Antler Hill Village,
Hours: Open Monday - Thursday 11AM-7PM, Friday and Saturday 11AM-9PM, And Sunday 12PM-7PM.
Addison Farms Vineyard - 19 miles from The Residences at Biltmore
This family-owned vineyard and winery is opened its tasting room in late 2012. Situated on 55 acres in Leicester, it's 14 miles northwest of Asheville. Our elevation allows for nearly 360° of mountain views. The former tobacco and cattle farm now grows six grape varieties in the vineyard: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot, and Petit Manseng.
Address: 4005 New Leicester Hwy, Leicester, NC.
Hours: Open Saturday 12-5 PM & Sunday 1-5 PM
Burntshirt Vineyards - 27 miles from The Residences at Biltmore
Tour the state-of-the-art wine production facility in Hendersonville. Their impressive Tasting Room features wines that are crafted from 100% estate-grown fruit. The high altitude, long, sunny days and cool nights in the Blue Ridge Province of the Appalachian Mountains allows them to grow some European varietals like Grüner Veltliner that is rarely produced in the United States. They also offer a Riesling, two Chardonnays (oaked and unoaked), Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, Vidal Blanc and a red wine blend called “Altitude 3400.”
Address: 2695 Sugarloaf Road, Hendersonville NC 28792.
Hours: Open Sunday-Thursday 12-6 PM and Friday-Saturday 12-7 PM, with tours at 2 PM every day
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards - 27 miles from The Residences at Biltmore
Located in the heart of Hendersonville apple country, the tasting room includes a walnut bar and a spacious area for indoor seating and patio. They have five acres of grape vines at 2,300 feet elevation with several different French varietals including Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.
Address: 588 Chestnut Gap Rd, Hendersonville, NC 28792.
Open Monday-Thursday 11 AM-6 PM, Friday & Saturday 11 AM-7 PM, Sunday 12-6 PM.