Growing Strong

Growing Strong: A crop of North Carolina wineries make it easy (and appealing) to drink local
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With close to 100 wineries and three major viticultural areas (Yadkin Valley, Swan Creek, and Haw River Valley), North Carolina is quickly regaining its 1800s reputation as a wine-producing area, erasing the long-lasting setback caused by prohibition. Vintners here are still experimenting to find which varieties of grapes grow best in our varied climate, but these standout offerings prove they’re definitely on the right track.

McRitchie
Viognier 2009
» $17

Fresh, taut, and reminiscent of whites from France’s Loire Valley, this is an easy-to-drink wine with clean introductory notes and mineral and honeysuckle characteristics. Try pairing it with oysters or a bouillabaisse fish soup. mcritchiewine.com

Grassy Creek
Sauvignon Blanc 2006
» $14

Redolent of sun-dried hay, granite, and distilled honey, this white is excellent with pungent cheeses (Stilton, Muenster, and Pont l’évèque),toasted nuts, or a firm-baked fish. No need to over-chill; a bit of warmth brings out its smoothness. grassycreekvineyard.com

Elkin Creek
Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
» $18

With an aroma remarkably like that of pinot noir, this cabernet has a deep rust hue, and is light and dry with hints of clover. Serve with grilled steak, pork tenderloin, or roasted turkey. elkincreekvineyard.com

Flint Hill
Syrah 2007
» $15

Fruity with a tinge of tannin, this red is rich in raspberry and grape notes with a bit of leather and a flinty finish. Aged 10 months in French oak barrels, it also exudes hints of blackberry and black pepper. The spiciness complements pizza, grilled meats, and goat cheese. flinthillvineyards.com

Rockhouse
Merlot 2007
» $20

Round, fruity, and velvety, this deep purple merlot, while tannic on the tongue, speaks of licorice, cassis, and pennyroyal. The vines that produce this wine flourish in Tryon. Enjoy its fullness with lamb, pork chops, crème brûlée, or a chocolaty dessert. rockhousevineyards.com