Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Vineyard? In North Carolina??

      I am not a wine snob.  The cost of a bottle has nothing to do with whether or not the the grape juice is pleasing on my palate.  I have experienced very expensive wines that didn't entice a second sip, and some cheapo wines that absolutely delighted my taste buds.  So, with that being said, I am always eager to try new wines.  As my dear brother-in-law, Greg would say - why wouldn't I?

The Babe fondling the grapes

     I first learned about the North Carolina wine industry about six years ago.  My initial thought was "I really dislike sweet, Muscadine wines."  (sorry, no offense to any Muscadine wine enthusiasts) they are just not my thing.  My second thought was "how can they grow decent grapes on tobacco land?"  The only way for me to truly know,  I figured, would be for me to try as many different North Carolina wines as humanly possible.

     Note that I am always up to that type of challenge, especially in the name of "research".

Our first bottle of Raylen's Carolinius

     And so I did.  Not only was I impressed with what those North Carolina grapes are squeezing out, I was excited to find a couple of my new favorites!  The vineyards, especially those in the Yadkin Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area), located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, are dadgum good!  There are currently 109 vineyards in the state, growing spectacular grapes from Cabernet Francs to Viogniers - and these good ole winemakers are turning them out into award winning, impressive Pinot Grigios, Cabernets, and wonderful Meritage blends.

     Take that, Napa.

     This summer, the Babe and I visited one of our top favorites - Raylen Vineyards, owned by Joe and Joyce Neely, in Mocksville.  I'm not sure if it was the drive in, passing thru the beautifully tended to grape vines, or the anticipation of the delicious wines, but we found ourselves instantly transported into another time and space.  A place of peaceful relaxation.  A time of slowing down and enjoying the moment...

    And so we did.  We greatly enjoyed every moment of our glass of Category 5.  Vintner Steve Shepard is a master at blending five different grapes; Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petite Verdot, and magically transforming them into a spectacular, full-bodied wine that demands the respect of any American vineyard.  The finish is smooth with caramel undertones, and a delight to our palates.  

      Did I mention that red wine is proven to keep your heart healthy?  And what's better than a happy heart?  Maybe a second glass...

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