UNCORKED: Fair Prizes Highlight State’s Top Wineries

Posted on November 11, 2013

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On a chilly spring day, I stood in a small wood shed behind Laurel Gray Vineyards’ tasting room, munching a pimiento cheese biscuit specially baked to pair with winemaker Charlie Kidd’s newest creation.

Laurel Gray was introducing a barrel sample of his first reserve Merlot, from the 2012 vintage, released publicly late this summer. I remarked on its deep color extraction and savored the signature plum and blueberry notes on a satin finish. I thought it was only going to get better in the next two years.

Judges at the 2013 N.C. State Fair Wine Competition apparently agreed, awarding it Best in Show in October. The small family winery near Hamptonville in the Yadkin River Valley also won a Double Gold for its Cabernet Franc and Gold medals for its Viognier and Chardonay.

The big winner — as it is most years — was Childress Vineyards near Lexington. Childress, among North Carolina’s largest wineries, collected 39 medals, including Gold for its Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Late Harvest Viognier.

Another winery of note is RayLen Vineyards near Mocksville. Winemaker Steve Shepard has shown a consistently deft hand with reds and this year collected a Double Gold for its Cabernet Franc, a Double Gold for its Carolinius blend, and Gold for its Eagle’s Select blend usually dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon.

UNCG wine ties

The Bryan School of Business and Economics at UNCG has strategically partnered with the N.C. wine industry for more than six years.

Its research and analysis includes:

  • 2008-09: “Business Development Needs of the wine industry in Yadkin Valley, Swan Creek and Haw River Viticulture area”
  • 2008-09: export feasibility studies on behalf of Shelton Vineyards, Duplin Winery and Old North State Winery
  • Benchmarking study on usage of wine clubs.
  • 2012-13: study of visitors to N.C. wineries.
  • Business planning for Raffaldini Vineyards.

Next year, UNCG expects to submit a five-year strategic plan for the N.C. wine industry to the N.C. Department of Agriculture.

By Ed Williams
Reposted from the News & Record (print), 11/6/2013
Ed Williams is marketing director at Alamance Community College. This column publishes the first Wednesday each month. Email williamsonwine@gmail.com

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