About North Carolina Wine

Wine Industry Facts

NC Wine Facts

  • North Carolina is home to more than 100 wineries. The number of wineries has more than quadrupled since 2001. The industry has two focuses - native muscadine grapes and European-style vinifera grapes.
  • Commonly planted vinifera grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Viognier. They are planted in the Western and Piedmont regions of the state.
  • Plantings of native muscadine grapes, also known as Scuppernongs, are relatively pest resistant and thrive in the hot sandy conditions of the Coastal region. Muscadines contain high levels of Resveratrol and other health-enhancing antioxidants. Some wineries even sell grape skins to nutraceutical companies.

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North Carolina’s Wine Story

NC Wine Story 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.

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Listen: “North Carolina State Toast”
Listen: “North Carolina Wine Story”

North Carolina’s Ode To The MotherVine

NC MotherVine 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.

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Wine Industry Resources

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.

Starting a Winery

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.