They say every wine has a story. Wait till you hear ours.
Not long after Sir Walter Raleigh landed in what would become North Carolina,
the grape vine was first introduced and cultivated in the New World. In fact,
by the dawn of the 20th Century, NC was the leading wine-producing region in the nation.
It seemed nothing could stop us.
But we hadn't counted on an act of Congress. 1919. Prohibition. Suddenly,
products from distilleries in undisclosed locations in the Piedmont hills and dales
were rather more lucrative than those from the gnarled grape orchards of yore.
When we spoke of fruit, it was shriveled in white lightning. When we packaged,
it was in Mason jars rather than Chardonnay bottles.
Listen: “North Carolina State Toast”
Listen: “North Carolina Wine Story”
This gnarly old girl still propagates new life in the North Carolina wine industry.
In addition to its history, native varietals also offer health benefits with dramatically
high levels of heart-healthy resveratrol.
Sir Walter Raleigh had no idea that the vine his sailors stumbled upon when they reached the
Outer Banks would be so beneficial to North Carolinians. His men reported that the coast was
"so full of grapes as the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them."
Perhaps what his mates spotted was the MotherVine on Roanoke Island, still growing and
producing scuppernong grapes since explorers first sighted it in 1584. The vine has a trunk
two-feet-thick, and its tendrils stretch along wooden arbors that support their tremendous
weight across almost an acre of land. The scuppernong is a type of muscadine grape.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, settlers planted cuttings from this parent vine
in the Washington County town of Scuppernong, quickly dubbing their new bronze crop with
the same name. Vine growers have now cultivated more than twenty bronze, red
and purple-black muscadine varieties that produce both red and white wines.
Find more on North Carolina’s long and storied history of winemaking, as well
as information about the state’s Wine & Grape Council, which enhances the
quality of NC wine and the viability of the industry through education, marketing,
and research. You can also subscribe to two electronic newsletters to stay up to date
with industry events and happenings.
NC winery owners will tell you that growing and processing grapes is a challenging
but rewarding business. Here you can find everything you need to know to start
the process, from permits to trademarks to marketing.