Hello, Craft Carolina! We’re the NC Wine Guys, Joe and Matt. We’re a couple of guys who live in Mooresville and love North Carolina Wine. It’s not all sweet. There’s something for everyone out there! Great wines are being produced in our state, and you need to know about them. We’re honored that Sam asked us to write a bit about our love of wine. We’ll talk a little bit about local wine and wine in general. We hope you’ll learn something!
North Carolina Wine has a long and storied history. We’re home to the oldest cultivated grapevine in the country, the Mothervine as it’s known. Located on Roanoke Island near Manteo, cultivation of this massive scuppernong vine, a variety of muscadine, began around 1584. By the beginning of the 20th Century, North Carolina led the nation in wine production. Then prohibition happened crushing the wine industry. The wine industry grew very slowly over the next several decades until the mid 2000s when the industry exploded. There are now nearly 200 wineries in the state. They range from the largest commercial winery on the East Coast, Duplin, to the most visited winery in America, Biltmore, to small family run wineries only producing a few hundred cases a year.
North Carolina vineyards produce many of the grapes used by North Carolina wineries. Primarily two species of grapes are used for winemaking in the state. These are the native Vitis rotundifolia which are muscadine varieties and the European Vitis vinifera. The popularly grown muscadine grapes are Carlos, Magnolia and Scuppernong. The popularly grown vinifera varieties are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Viognier. Hybrid grape varieties are also popular. Those include Chambourcin, Traminette, and Chardonnel.
North Carolina is also home to four American Viticulture Areas (AVAs). AVAs are designated wine grape growing areas within the US so designated for their distinctive geographic features. The boundaries are defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) which is part of the United States Department of the Treasury.
The four AVAs are:
- Yadkin Valley – Established in 2003. It is located in Wilkes, Yadkin and Surry Counties along with parts of Davie, Davidson, Forsyth and Stokes Counties.
- Swan Creek – Established in 2008. It overlaps the Yadkin Valley AVA in parts of Wilkes and Yadkin Counties. A small part is also located in Northern Iredell County.
- Haw River Valley – Established in 2009. It is located in Alamance County and parts of Caswell, Chatham, Guilford, Orange and Rockingham Counties.
- Upper Hiawassee Highlands – Established 2014 and shared with Georgia. It is located in Cherokee and Clay Counties in NC.
A new AVA has been proposed for parts of Northwest North Carolina, Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. If approved it will be known as the Appalachian High Country AVA. It will include Ashe, Alleghany, Avery and Watauga Counties in North Carolina.