North Carolina is not known for its wines, but maybe it should be. North Carolina's rich farmland
and mild climate contribute to the success and wide variety of grapes grown across the state, producing more than
500,000 gallons of wine annually. Winemakers use grape varieties that are gown in North Carolina to create wine
with a superior flavor, such as European types, native muscadines and other fruits.
North Carolina is the home of our nation's first cultivated grape.
The Florentine navigator Verrazzano, who explored the Cape Fear River Valley
for France in 1524, wrote that he saw "...Many vines growing naturally there..."
North Carolina's wine industry is rooted deep in the colonial heritage of Sir Walter
Raleigh's Colony on Roanoke Island, where the first scuppernong vine was cultivated.
For more than a century, vineyards
and wineries have perpetuated the agricultural tradition that is the heart of North Carolina.
Medoc Vinyards led the country in wine production in 1835.
North Carolina now ranks 12th
in the country in grape and wine production with a number of varieties
of grapes which include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir,
French Cabernet, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and other traditional
European grapes and French-American hybrids. The native Muscadine
(Scuppernong) grapes with their tough outer skin are pest resistant
and thrive in the coastal plains and are known for their health-enhancing
antioxidants. The fruit does not grow in
bunches, and when ripe it can be shaken from the vine.
Today North Carolina is home
to 38 wineries. Here's a list courtesy of the North Carolina Grape
Council. If you visit them remember to bring a designated driver
who will not take part in the tastings and be sure to phone ahead.
Many of the wineries are easily located with the directional signs
on the highways. Click here for a list of
North Carolina Wineries and directions.