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Wine Travel: Carolina On My Mind

Mar 16, 2008
Being a lifelong student of history and geography, I've always been drawn to places that offer a sense of historical pride and geographical diversity. Quite possibly there's no state which offers more of both than North Carolina. North Carolina is a study in contrasts. And through the course of experiencing those contrasts, more than a few very pleasant surprises await.

One look at a map of North Carolina tells part of the story. In the far western part of the state, the Appalachian mountains provide a scenic backdrop. The central Piedmont area is home to growing cities along with a technological hub. Further east is a naturalists paradise - windswept beaches, coastal plains, and picturesque harborside communities.

Amidst it all, the North Carolina wine industry thrives. In vineyards and wineries from the mountains to the coast, North Carolina boasts the 10th largest grape and wine production in the United States. Each distinct North Carolina area offers different varieties of grapes, producing quite possibly one of the widest variety of wine styles in the country.

Here in North Carolina, growers still produce the hardy muscadine grape, a staple in southeastern states. Yet, this is just one small part of grape growing and wine growing here. Vintners in the mountain and Piedmont region of North Carolina have planted traditional European grape varieties and French-American Hybrids, with the result being a surprising and ever evolving selection of wines for travelers and wine lovers.

North Carolina Wine: Tar Heel State Surprises

In the far southeastern corner of North Carolina, four wineries offer travelers a scenic wine trail to explore and enjoy. Each of the four offer wines made with the southern staple, the muscadine grape. But it's not all about muscadine wine here. There is a suprising array of wine styles to sample and enjoy, and something for even the most discriminating of palates.

As you enter the state from South Carolina's Myrtle Beach area, you'll see a sign for Silver Coast Winery, just 15 miles inland from the Atlantic coast. On their 40 acre tranquil winery site, Silver Coast produces wines that have won several international wine competition awards. We were especially impressed with their perfectly balanced oak chardonnay.

Just a short drive further up the coast, you'll enter Wilmington, a beautiful historic port city which is often used for television and movie filmings. Most of Wilmington's downtown area is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it's here that you'll find Lumina Winery. Lumina is well know for their adventurous wines and use of fruits. If you've never tried a black rasberry merlot, don't pass up the chance to try it here.

Slightly inland from Wilmington just off of Interstate 40, you'll discover two more wineries, including North Carolina's largest and oldest, Duplin Winery. Duplin produces over 250,000 cases a year and their Hatteras Red is quite possibly North Carolina's most well known wine. Nearby is Bannerman Vineyard and Winery, producing muscadine varieties from their on site vineyard. Be sure to sample their White Oak semi sweet white, a fruity and approachable white table wine.

With over 70 wineries, North Carolina's wine industry continues to thrive. In addition to the coastal area discussed in this travelogue, there are two other distinct grape growing and wine producing regions in the western and central part of the state. No matter where you turn in North Carolina, you'll find great wine and true southern hospitality awaiting you.
About the Author
Are you interested in learning about wine travel destinations and unique small wineries? You're invited to explore this and many other largely undiscovered wine trails by visiting Wine Trails USA, a fun and informative site devoted to wine travel and wine tours.
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