matt rose_Overmountain Vinyard, NC

When residents of other states consider North Carolina wines, there are two typical reactions: “North Carolina makes wine?” or “I’m generally not a fan of Muscadine.”

While the Muscadine myth is a topic for another day, this perception problem in the greater wine world is unsurprising given North Carolina’s relatively recent re-entry into wine-making.

There has been a huge push over the past 15 years to make wine in North Carolina. On the human scale 15 years is a long time. Yet for a wine-making region, it is a flash in the pan. Wine-making is a generational endeavor and success or recognition requires dedication and perseverance, as well as an unwavering commitment to producing a quality product. During these 15 years in N.C., we developed new techniques, refined planting choices, and learned numerous lessons. All this growing points toward a brighter future for our state’s wine.

Even still, now is not the time to stop supporting N.C. wineries that are producing quality wine. It is important for us to show appreciation for North Carolina wine, which will ultimately define the perception of wine from our state.

Here are seven wineries producing wines that show North Carolina’s promise for the future:

Banner Elk Winery – Seyval Blanc
Seyval Blanc is a French-American hybrid that tolerates cooler climates such as upstate New York and the mountains of North Carolina. I tasted Banner Elk’s Seyval Blanc after traveling to the Finger Lakes region of New York, and I was surprised to find that Banner Elk’s rendition outshone all the others!.

Flint Hill – Chambourcin
Chambourcin is a French-American hybrid that does well in North Carolina due to its disease resistance and pigmented pulp. Flint Hill makes a fine Chambourcin that is deep-colored and without the typical unpleasant hybrid flavors. This wine pairs well with steak or even dark chocolate.

Raffaldini – Sangiovese “Riserva”
Since its inception, Raffaldini has made a strong commitment to growing Italian varietals in the N.C. Piedmont. The Riserva Sangiovese is a pleasant, medium-bodied red with moderate tannins. This structure allows the wine to pair with traditionally rustic dishes from Tuscany.

RayLen – Cabernet Franc
RayLen uses this traditional Bordeaux varietal to craft a wine that is plush and full-bodied. While it will pair nicely with game, I prefer RayLen’s Cabernet Franc with lamb burgers.

Shelton – Riesling
Shelton was one of the first wineries I visited upon reaching my 21st birthday. Although it is always easy to be influenced by a beautiful setting, Shelton’s Riesling has long been one of my favorite white wines from N.C. Refreshing with balanced acidity, there is plenty of stone fruit and apple with a hint of honey.

Stonefield Cellars – Barrel X
Robert Wurz uses his California enological training to craft a super Tuscan-style blend from North Carolina that won me over. Stonefield’s style is characterized by power with elegance, which ultimately means the wines play nicely when paired with food.

Thistle Meadow – Italian Stud
Tom Burgiss, owner of Thistle Meadow, is quite a character, but he also knows how to please wine people. Tom and his son, Brant, use grapes sourced from all over the world to concoct creative and enticing wines in beautiful Laurel Springs.

Phillip Zucchino, born and raised in North Carolina, has three years of wine production experience throughout France and is the co-owner of TheWineFeed.com, an online wine retailer with a focus on helping consumers identify their personal taste through interactive wine events. Feel free to contact Phillip at phillipzucchino@thewinefeed.com.

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