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.
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
Sauvignon Blanc 2006
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
Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
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
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
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