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Yapa - Are North Carolina wines any good?

Three years later, not much has changed in our NC wine experiences. After now trying over 120 Norton grape wines in 17 states, it is interesting that there are currently five Norton wineries in NC. Since NC now has 104 wineries and we have only tried 16 of these, there will need to be some sincere searching to find unique winery examples in this beautiful state. I'll admit that we found recently a winery in a man's basement, Cerminaro Vineyard in Boomer, NC near Lenoir, NC, which finally brought out a few smiles accompanied with a few purchases. My brother-in-law found Shelton-Badgett Center for Viticulture and Enology on the campus of Surry Community College in NC and he states 'don't give up on NC, things are changing with a couple nice white wines I found here'.

Dec 09, 2012
rhodies in Wine

Yapa - Are North Carolina wines any good?

Something "off" is a kind explanation of NC wines. How can GA and VA produce some wonderful wine examples, but NC vines have yet to mature into unique tastes that one would wish to return to this area for further explorations? A winery that we gave up hope on near Clayton, GA almost ten years ago surprised us by a recent visit with very interesting new wines. Hopefully the same will occur in NC in the years to come.

Dec 09, 2012
rhodies in Wine

Norton?

There are 225 Norton wineries today in 23 states. Finding that exceptional Norton wine is like kissing a lot of toads to find that prince(ss). After tasting now 104 different Norton wines from sixteen states, we have found a few (6?) exciting Nortons and a handful of other really good wine examples which vary annually due to production whims. Many people want instant wine gratification upon purchase, but here is where that does not work since most Norton wines need to be put away for several years, ~ something most people are not willing or able to do. To date, we've found only a few "drink now" Norton wines; as, Westphalia and Peaceful Bend in Missouri and Castle Gruen in Virginia. And wineries that hold back their wines four or five years also consequently charge you more for these wines (Stone Hill Cross J Norton as example). But not to discourage you in Norton wine purchases, you will enjoy even younger Norton wines if you let your bottles rest even for a few weeks after purchase (travel bottle shock) and make sure to let your Norton wine breathe for no less than 40 minutes before serving. Your first sip will smack you of malic acids (+ tannins), but quickly settle down with the second sip, etc. Depending on your travel location, do try the best Norton wines within the following states: White Oaks (AL); Mount Bethel (AR), Three Sister (GA); Century Farms (TN); Elk Creek (KY); Castle Gruen, *Cooper, DuCard, Chrysalis $$(VA); Stone Mountain Cellars (PA), Heinrichshaus, Stone Hill's Cross J, Montelle, Robller, Peaceful Bend and Westphalia (MO). Please do not compare this wine to California and European vinifera, it's truly an American wine which reflects our American culture. Doug Frost, a Kansas City wine writer and master sommelier expressed Norton wines best as "powerful, muscular, crazy intense in malic acid and capable of staining teeth or even wineglasses. [The wine is] probably something most drinkers have to learn to love, with its rough and rustic personality often evident." Another concern for many is the cost of Norton wines. Realize that grape production can be less than one third per acre with Norton grapes as compared to other grape yields because of its small size and extremely seedy fruit. There are other factors involved also, but generally expect to pay $18-$25 per bottle. Most less expensive Norton wines reflect anticipated quality, but here we also have some fine exceptions; as, Horton ($12-$15 VA), St. James ($8-15 MO), Illinois Cellars ($7 IL) and White Oaks ($13 AL). Try to find Norton vineyards with older vines which combine well with more experienced Norton vintners. But here again, we have been pleasantly surprised with new Norton upstarts who make amazing blends to camouflage their young green Nortons. Do yourself a favor by enjoying Todd Kliman's novel-like-Norton biography, The Wild Vine, with a Norton wine in hand.

Dec 13, 2010
rhodies in Wine

Norton?

Norton (Cynthiana) wines can be found throughout the South. Best Norton wines found so far: Three Sister (GA); White Oaks (AL); Crown & Century Farms (TN); Cooper (VA); Elk Creek (KY), Blumenhof, Heinrichshaus, Stone Hill's Cross J, & Robller (MO). Here is a list of how many Norton producing vineyards can be found in different states: Alabama - 2, Arkansas - 6, Florida - 1, Georgia - 5, Iowa - 5, Illinois - 25, Indiana - 1, Kansas - 5, Kentucky - 8, Louisiana - 2, Maryland - 1, Missouri - 54, New Jersey - 3, New York - 1, North Carolina - 3, Ohio - 2, Oklahoma - 4, Pennsylvania - 3, Tennessee - 11, Texas - 6, Virginia - 27, West Virginia - 2.

Mar 01, 2010
rhodies in Wine

Yapa - Are North Carolina wines any good?

Though this is a rather old posting, I'd like to thank all that were so honest with their North Carolina findings. My wife and I have been on a Norton wine kick tasting some 52 Norton's to date with the best coming from Missouri and one from Virginia so far. We are currently trying 33 Deep South vineyards in seven states (TN, KY, & NC being guest Deep South states). We typically pick up a rather "sour" taste in many Southern wines due to, in my opinion, the clay based regional soils. A comment like that may tell on possibly our lack of wine knowledge, but we know what we like to taste. We found really rather good examples of Norton wines at White Oaks (AL), Three Sisters (GA), Elk Creek & Lover's Leap (KY), but the two Norton wines from North Carolina have been more than a bad disappointment. Words cannot poperly describe the tastes without being obviously very caustic. I'm looking forward to finding just one good NC wine, but in the past four years that just has not happened.

Nov 15, 2009
rhodies in Wine

Best places to eat in South Carolina?

Yep, I know I'm 17 months behind on this posting, but in any case, - if you are in the Greenville area, check out what the book Hamburger America considers one of the top 100 hamburger joints in the United States - Northgate Soda Shop (918 North Main St) 864-235-6770. Enjoy a pimiento cheeseburger at its best.

Sep 22, 2009
rhodies in Southeast