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NC Wine Touring: Shadow Springs Vineyard

Hello Again Wine Lovers,

The final day 1 Swan Creek Winery that we visited awhile ago for my friend’s birthday weekend was Shadow Springs Vineyard. This was a little different for tasting in that every other winery had us try all of the wines. This place had the option of picking 7 or trying all 13 – in case you don’t like sweet or dry, you aren’t forced to try them all! I thought that was pretty neat. Now, Lisa, Kera and I decided that we were going to basically split a sweet (Kera & I) and a dry (Lisa & I) so that we could try what we’d like only. Clearly, I’m the non-picky one of the group, hehe.

Shadow Springs Vineyard is also in the heart of Amish Country. We drove past horse and buggy signs, lots of farmland, few machines, and finally a field of horses before arriving at the picturesque and quaint Shadow Springs Tasting Room. The Vineyard started in January 2005 with the first planting in April, and then progressed along until the Tasting Room opened in June 2008. With a wide variety of grapes harvested each year, there are plenty of wine options coming out of this vineyard.

Onto the tastings! Description from the vineyard followed by my thoughts, in order, below. Weee!

’08 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
SS: This wine was Barrel Fermented in new and once used French Oak barrels for 10 months. It has a rich buttery flavor.
Beth: Very smooth and slightly oaky chardonnay. I tried a very small sip of this as Lisa almost forgot to let me!

’10 Viognier
SS: This viognier was fermented in stainless steel tanks to give it a nice clean quality with crisp acidity and fruit notes of apricot, lime and melon.
Beth: Being my favorite varietal, I found this a deliciously fresh and fruity start, with a crisp melon middle and a very smooth and citrusy finish.

’08 Cabernet Franc
SS: A medium bodied red with strong aromas of cherry and oak. Lively acidity throughout the fruity finish makes this a perfect match for Italian Food.
Beth: I didn’t try this one but Lisa really liked it, said it was nice and strongly “cherry”.

’06 Cabernet Sauvignon
SS: This 100% Cab Sauv displays soft tannins from 18 months aging in French, Hungarian and American barrels. It highlights flavors of cherry, vanilla and oak.
Beth: I looked over, she poured it, I looked at Kera, said “yes” and looked back and it was gone with a very happy Lisa left behind. 🙂

’08 Chambourcin
SS: This 100% Chambourcin was aged for 18 months in oak barrels which has given it silky tannins and a long finish. It has hints of black raspberry, blackberry and dark sugars.
Beth: This was a very deliciously dry berry wine that started strong on the berry, had a sugared oak taste in the middle, and finished with more dry berry flavor that lingered on the tongue.

’07 Merlot
SS: This 100% Merlot has flavors of plums and cherries. It displays a good balance between fruit and oak flavors.
Beth: This was a very delicious and fruity oaked Merlot, very true to the expected Merlot-ness.

’07 Meritage
SS: This is a Bordeaux blend of Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Merlot and Petit Verdot. With almost 2 years in the barrel it is a big wine with a great flavor and a wonderful finish.
Beth: This was a very sweetly dry hearty wine that had a swirl of berry, plum and oak flavors just dancing in your mouth from start to finish. Yum.

’07 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
SS: Our biggest and boldest wine this Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was aged in oak barrels for almost 3 years. It has aromas of blackberry, mocha, black cherry and licorice.
Beth: Lisa & I really liked this slightly sweet, oaky dry, berry wine that had a hint of licorice swirling amidst the berries from start to middle, and then the mocha peeked out towards the end. Yum.

Crimson Sunset
SS: This Merlot/Franc blend is fruit forward with aromas of plum, cherry and raspberry. With 1% residual sugar, this wine is pleasant and easy to drink.
Beth: Very sweet blend of fruity berries that take you from start to finish and give you a mental picture of a susent of berries in your mouth – lots of colors, and a haze of sweet over top.

’10 Seyval Blanc
SS: Stainless steel fermented crisp and clean off dry Seyval Blanc with highlights of peach and mango.
Beth: This slightly sweet wine starts off peach, and finishes crisp with a lift of mango at the end. Yum.

’11 L’Amour Doux
SS: This dessert wine is made from our late harvest Viognier. It has flavors of apricot, pear, pineapple and orange blossom honey.
Beth: This super super sweet wine has a tropical fruit taste from the start, with a little lighter pear playing with your palate through the middle, and finishing with a sweet taste of honey.

Shortcake
SS: This Strawberry wine is light and refreshing. With 11% alcohol and a sweet taste it is the perfect wine any time of the year.
Beth: This super sweet wine reminds me of a wine version of strawberry jam, sweet and tart by turns, but starting and ending with a sweet note.

Dark Shadow
SS: This wine has a warm chocolate cherry flavor. It is a blend of Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, Petit Verdot, Seyval Blanc and Dark Chocolate. YUM!!!
Beth: This slightly sweet wine has a bittersweet dark chocolate undertone with a sweet grape overtone, and a finish of chocolate covered cherries.

In the Winter, Shadow Springs does a special wine that blends the Shortcake with the Dark Shadow!

So let me know what you think of these wines, if you have tried them or not, and any other wine thoughts you may have!

Craft You Later,
Beth

NC Wine Touring: Dobbins Creek Vineyard

Hello Again Wine Friends,

I am continuing the blogging about the birthday wine touring trip I took with some friends a while ago. Today I wanted to share with you my experiences at Dobbins Creek Vineyard in Hamptonville, NC. This is again a Yadkin Valley winery, further part of the 5-vineyard Swan Creek AVA, and a very small and locally grown & run vineyard. This was probably my favorite of the Swan Creek because the owner, Charles, was a hoot. He did our wine tasting, and boy was he fun! He also gave us Cheez-Its for cleansing our palate, which I thought was genius. Cheese, wine, YUM!

Wine Tasting Ladies at the Dobbins Creek Vineyard!

So a little about Dobbins Creek. The land the vineyard is planted on was originally a tobacco farm back in the 1950s, and was later converted to pastureland throughout the 1960s through to the 1990s. In 2000, Charles King bought out land portions from a brother and sister, and decided to start the vineyard. In Spring of 2002, the first vines were planted, with further plantings in each subsequent year until 2005. In 2006, a tasting room was added to the land, taking 18 months to complete. I must say, the finished product is gorgeous – all wood and stone, with a very pretty (and large) front porch that has a great view of the vineyard.

So now onto the wines. I will warn you, these are some of the driest wines in the Swan Creek area, though they have quite a few sweet wines as well. That said, here we go, with vineyard notes followed by my notes below for each! 🙂

Stainless Chardonnay
DC: Wonderful smells of apple and pear make it distinctive. Golden delicious apple flavors finish cleanly. Pairs well with fish, chicken and fruit. Being an unoaked Chardonnay it is very fruit forward.
Beth: Very clear fresh, sweet apple flavors in the overtones and undertones, with a crisp and clean finish, and a very slightly metallic flavor underneath. Very slight.

New Dry Riesling
DC: Smells of pear give nice top notes. Tastes of grapefruit and melon on the tongue with a flavorful ending. Pairs well with turkey, pears and soft cheeses.
Beth: Sweetly dry flavor, with a very smooth pear and grapefruit start, and a great melon finish, that doesn’t overpower with dryness yet retains a slight hint of sweet. This was one of my 2 favorite wines at this vineyard!

09 Merlot
DC: Earthiness and smoke hit your nose. A very smooth finish starting with pitted fruit flavors. Will pair well with most meats and hard cheeses.
Beth: Very smooth, fruity flavor that has a smoked oak undertone throughout, and finishes with a smooth dark cherry note.

08 Merlot
DC: This classic is 100% Merlot. Dark berry flavors of cherry and raspberry give this medium bodied wine a distinguished flavor. The finish hangs on the back of the tongue. Beef, Pork, and meats with sauces complement one another.
Beth: Very dry berry flavor to this wine from the start, with a sweet raspberry flavor coming in and the middle, and finishing on a smoothly dry note that lingers.

07 Reserve Merlot
DC: Big bold, and full bodied describe its taste. Black cherry flavors impart a good amount of tannin. Aged for 20 months in oak barrels. Enjoy now or save for a special occasion.
Beth: The first thing I thought when I tried this is “My Mother will LOVE this dry Merlot!”. My second thought was that this oak undertone balances very well with the black cherry throughout the taste, and finishes like it starts: very dry. This is not a bad thing, I promise you. It would go great, in my opinion, with a really juicy steak or chicken dish, or even a sweeter salad.

09 Cabernet Franc
DC: Slightly lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon it still packs as much punch. Having raspberry and earthy smells. Flavor starts on the tip of the tongue, building to concentrated flavor on the end. Long smooth finish is accompanied with spice notes. A year round wine that is good pairing with meats and pasta.
Beth: I found the start of this wine to be dry with strong notes of berry, and undertones of allspice, that meld deliciously until a smooth dry-berry finish, almost reminiscent of Craisins in the flavor to me.

Hemric Mountain Red
DC: Red wine blended with Blackberries makes a fantastic fruit wine. The aroma of blackberry encourages you to have a sip. Sweet on the front and a zing on the finish. A glass is all that is needed to enjoy this wine.
Beth: Strong chocolate undertones and blackberry overtones flow together for this just-sweet-enough and super delicious red wine. The only thing I thought while drinking this was YUM. I had to force myself to concentrate on the various flavors. Clearly this is my other favorite wine here! I also bought a bottle as this inspired me to attempt (at a future date) a Hemric Red-soaked wafer for a Tiramisu. Stay tuned for that! 😉

Hemric Mountain Blush
DC: Presenting this 2009 as our blush Cabernet Franc. A hint of sweetness gives this wine fragrant smells and flavors of strawberry. This red grape sits on the skins for a brief time. The juice is then pressed off to achieve its beautiful color. A semisweet wine pairing with fruit, soft cheese and spicy food.
Beth: This is indeed a semisweet wine, somewhat reminiscent of a White Zinfandel, however nowhere near as sweet (thank goodness). Very fruity undertones of strawberry stay on your tongue throughout each sip, and it finishes on a slightly sweet and tart note.

Hemric Mountain Rosé
DC: Summer Porch Wine. Details to come as this is a new release.
Beth: This is indeed a summer porch wine. This very lightly fruity, very sweet (but not overly so) wine starts with hints of berries and finishes on a very crisp note. A little sweet for me, but definitely something full-flavored yet light for a hot summer eve.

Sweet Riesling
DC: Details to come as this is a new release, however this is the sweet version of the Dry Riesling.
Beth: This sweet wine that starts with delicious pear flavors, has middle notes of citrus and melon, and finishes with a smooth and slightly sweet note that lingers. Very good, but I am biased towards the Dry Riesling a bit… 😉

Let me know if you’ve had their wines, and if you agree/disagree or your thoughts on things. Hope you enjoyed this!

Craft You Later,
Beth

NC Wine Touring: Raffaldini Vineyards

Hello again my friends,

In a continuation of the NC Wine Touring reviews, I wanted to share my experience from my friend’s birthday trip of going to Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda, NC. This is part of the Yadkin Valley wineries, as well as the subset of 5 wineries that make up the Swan Creek AVA. This is one of the prettiest vineyards I’ve been to, without a doubt, from the Tuscan-style Villa to the deck overlooking the actual vineyard to the gardens on the walk up to the Villa. Gorgeous.

Raffaldini Vineyards Stone Garden and Pond!

Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda started its journey around year 2000, planting 40 acres of varietals between 2003-2005. Some of the varietals are so rare that Raffaldini Vineyards is either the first vineyard in the United States or the only on the East Coast to grow them. Steeped in Italian history and heritage, Raffaldini has the marketing motto “Chianti in the Carolinas” and the family motto “Audentes Fortuna Iuvat” (translation: ‘Fortune Favors the Daring’).

Raffaldini Vineyards ‘Creek’!

Raffaldini Vineyards Piazza!

For the Wine Tasting, only 2 of the 5 of us partook because the wines are typically more on the dry side. So Lisa and I decided to be the victims who were chosen to try these wines, take one for the team so-to-speak. Heh. Darn. Just twist my arm a bit harder, please…. (Lisa & I both have a real love for the drier and more robust wines, if you couldn’t tell from my sarcasm there.)

Raffaldini Vineyards make a gorgeous backdrop for our group!

So here is the tasting we did, with the notes from Raffaldini followed by my thoughts, in order of tasting.

2011 Pinot Grigio
R: Light to medium-bodied and crisp, aromas and flavors of apple and mineral. Italy’s most popular white wine [varietal].
Beth: Slightly peach fragrance, apple undertones throught, and a crisp finish.

2010 Vermentino
R: Clean, versatile, full-bodied white wine.
Beth: Tropical and citrus undertones, with a crisp start and a smooth finish. Yum.

2011 Girasole Rosé
R: A complex aroma of berries, and raspberry and  strawberry flavors balance acidity and a medium-bodied, clean, dry finish.
Beth: Tart mineral undertone similar to stainless-barrelled Chardonnay, with dry berry overtones and a slightly sweet finish.

2009 Sangiovese
R: “Chianti” style, medium-bodied ruby-red colored wine with hints of rhubarb and strawberries, and cherry dominating the palate.
Beth: Sweet cherry smelling, oak undertone, slightly subtle hint of strawberry-rhubarb, and a slightly dry finish.

Il Mezzogiorno
R: A blackberry, black raspberry, currant and rhubarb medium-bodied wine with rich fruit and oak flavors leading up to a long, lingering spicy finish.
Beth: Very smooth start and finish, with a heavy currant, berry and rhubarb middle making it slightly tart but still sweet, and a spiced finish that leaves a pleasant taste on the tongue. This was one of my 2 favorite wines from Raffaldini. Delicious!

2009 Riserva
R: Smoky, savory and warming red wine with dark cherry flavors.
Beth: Very smooth start with a smoked oak flavor undertone, and overtones of dark cherries, finishing with a smooth flourish.

Bella Misto
R: Full-bodied, jammy red fruit and earthy aromas.
Beth: This was a very dry red that had very raspberry-jam flavors throughout, with undertones in aroma of almost a dry clay to finish the sip.

La Doce Vita
R: With intense aromas of floral lychee, orange peel and cardamom, and a smooth and sweet Moscato d’Asti style, this is a juicy explosion of fruit like biting into ripe kiwi or plump peaches.
Beth: This was my other favorite wine from Raffaldini. This was delicious, and surprising. The best way I can describe it is like a dry sparkling wine was split down the middle by a sweet grape juice, and the resulting effect leaves a light kiwi bubble on your tongue. I bought a bottle for a friend’s wedding that’s coming up, because I know they’ll love it.

So that is the Raffaldini Vineyards “secondo me” for today, and I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know your thoughts on my thoughts, this wine if you’ve ever had it, or my blog in general. Love to hear from you!

Craft You Later,
Beth

NC Wine Touring: Laurel Gray Vineyards

Hello Friends,

I am going to talk a little bit about a winery I recently visited. This was part of a birthday DIY wine tour some friends and I did for one of their 21st birthdays. Definitely not mine, trust me, been there & done that quite a few moons ago, thank you!

So we stopped was at Laurel Gray Vineyards. This is a very quaint and pretty, small local vineyard in Hamptonville, North Carolina, just off the NC-421 and I-77 intersection. The owners, Kim & Ben Myers, live on an 84-acre former dairy cattle and tobacco farm, that has been in the Myers family for 10 generations. They planted their first grapes (French Vinifera) in 2001, and in 2003 opened the tasting room in a renovated milking parlor, continuing to grow from there.

Laurel Gray Vineyard

When we first drove up, the first thing we noticed was the beautiful landscaping and lush roses. At the entrance to the Tasting Room, there are 2 rose gardens with 40 tea roses. Completely gorgeous and clearly lovingly well-tended. In addition to these rose-filled areas, the vineyards themselves have roses in front of every other row (something almost every vineyard does), which does two things: first it creates a pretty look, and second (most importantly) it warns the growers if there is trouble for the grape plants. Roses and Grapevines are similar in many ways so they are a natural warning if insects or weather or anything else are affecting the grapes.

So we enter this cute cottage-like Tasting Room and see a wine bar and a shop in one, complete with wine glasses, wine bottles, shirts, aprons, and a whole array of food items. We also see two ladies getting everything setup, as we are there right at 11am, which is when the Tasting Room opens on Saturdays. Wooo! We are the first up to bat!

We let them know we want to do some tastings, and they set a list of wines out, and start placing pieces of sourdough bread (scratch-made) in a few dishes in front of us, along with some Laurel Gray wine glasses. It smelled heavenly, slightly sweet, but still sour. Mmmm. So onto the wines!

Laurel Gray Wine Glass

So in our cute wine glasses we get poured a selection of wines in a 1-1.5 oz amount. We start with dry whites, followed by dry reds, then semi sweet wines, and finish with sweet wines. Here are their provided notes, and my thoughts on the wines, in order of how we tasted them. Enjoy!

2011 Pinot Gris
LG: Clean and fruity with hints of melon, citrus and mineral. Kim’s favorite wine for a warm summer evening. Serve with a light fish or chicken dishes or creamy soft cheese.
Beth: Clean, crisp, citrus and fruity wine with a lightly sweet undertone.

2011 Viognier
LG: Peaches and apricots are the best words to describe this full bodied delicious white wine. It is a breath of a souther summer day. Enjoy seafood, poultry, creamy pasta, and someone you love. (International Award Winner)
Beth: Peachy overtones, with a sweet start and a slightly dry finish, and a true Viognier flavor throughout.

2010 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
LG: Aged in French oak barrels for one year this Chardonnay is a balance of apple, butter, and vanilla flavors. Voted Best Vintage by a select market group, a wine that pairs well with hard cheese, light pasta dishes, chicken or seafood. Benny’s white wine choice for 2012.
Beth: Apple overtones, buttery smoothness throughout, and oak undertones flavor this Chardonnay.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon
LG: Our delicate French style Cabernet is barrel aged for 22 months and then bottle aged for 18 months. Blackberries, dark chocolate and cherries blend with buttery oak for a smooth, long finish. Enjoy with all red meat and bold cheeses. International Award Winner.
Beth: Chocolate cherry/berry flavors throughout, with a slightly dry start and a sweet finish, that tastes very smooth from beginning to end.

2009 Windsor (Newest Release)
LG: A rich and delicious blend of four estate vinifera red grapes. Our boldest wine, Windsor is wonderful with red meat, olives, bold cheese, and dark chocolate! A portion of the sale of this wine will help promote Yadkin Co Tourism. International Award Winner.
Beth: A buttery dry red wine with grape flavors rolling around your tongue through to a smooth finish.

2009 Scarlet Mountain
LG: This is our signature wine blended from four of our estate vinifera grapes. The richness of ripe red cherries, blueberries, raspberries and buttered toast delight the senses. International Award Winner and Customer Favorite, serve Scarlet Mountain with grilled burgers, pizza, Italian dishes, it really goes well with almost anything!
Beth: This slightly dry wine has a sweetness from a full-flavor presence of berries, and finishes very smoothly with a cherry note at the very end.

Rosé 1773
LG: On a warm day in the south, this semi-sweet blend of fresh picked berries and exotic flavor is the perfect picnic wine. To enjoy an international experience serve Rosé 1773 with Asian, Spanish or Indian food.
Beth: This is a very sweet berry overtone, and a very slight spice undertone that is in between pepper and nutmeg. Tastes similar to a drier White Zinfandel to me.

Encore
LG: Laurel Gray’s Cebernet, infused with natural black raspberries and just a hint of pure milk chocolate, makes this wine the perfect end to a great dinner with friends. Served with our Chocolate Cabernet Wine Sauce it becomes a decadent and heavenly treat! Tastes just like a raspbery truffle!
Beth: This was my favorite wine at Laurel Gray. I am normally not a fan of overly sweet wines, but this one just hit every good note in a rousing aria of deliciousness. The chocolate and berry flavors were well-balanced and in the forefront of the taste, as well as the smooth sweetness that took you from start to finish, but never overpowered you. This was one of those wines that would be dangerous because it’s so good, though I would love to use it in my cooking! YUM.

Nectar
LG: Sweet, fresh grapes delight both your nose and palate. Clean and fruity Nectar is a trip down memory lane. Enjoy a glass of Nectar served ice cold and wiggle your toes in the grass. Serve with desserts made with butter, vanilla or tropical fruit.
Beth: This sweet vanilla undertone wine tasted almost like a muscadine grape but not quite as sweet.

SAUCES:
Artisan Vinaigrette: This olive oil, vinegar and herb sauce went with the fresh-baked sourdough bread like a Chardonnay with Chicken. Delicious, well-balanced in the spice realm, and not too vinegary, this would be a very addicting treat to start your meal off when paired with some fresh bread.
Crazy ‘Bout Butts BBQ Sauce: This was so good, and I do like my BBQ sauces, that I don’t think I need to do anything but marinate my meats in it and enjoy it. Typically I add at least one thing to a store-bought BBQ sauce, but this is a melt-in-your-mouth experience all on its own, not needing a thing changed.
Chocolate Cabernet Wine Sauce: I really thought I was in heaven when I tried this, paired with the Encore wine. I had a moment where I wouldn’t give the tasting spoon up. This thick chocolate sauce has an undertone of cabernet, but is mostly chocolate, chocolate, berry, and more chocolate in the flavor. Super delicious and highly addicting. You are forewarned!
Caramel Chardonnay Wine Sauce: This is the only sauce we didn’t try, and that may be a good thing, as good caramel sauces are much harder to find and my wastline may not have loved me for trying this!

Sadly, the wines and sauces are only sold at the vineyard, however that just gives and excuse to take a nice drive on a weekend up to Hamptonville to go wine tasting and have a cheery, flavor-filled afternoon!

Let me know if you have tried Laurel Gray Vineyards’ wines, and what you think of them. Do you agree or disagree on my comments? I am by no means an expert, I just try to pay attention to my palatte when I drink wines. Hopefully this helps you make a choice about visiting, though, as it truly is lovely.

Craft You Later,
Beth

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