Wine situation in NC
How are the wine selections/prices in NC vs. MD? We will be wandering NC and wonder if we should bring our own. Is it sold in grocery stores? Is is state stoe only? How about prices/selection at restaurants? Aree there any decent NC wines that we must try?
You can buy beer and wine in nearly all grocery stores. The selections will of course vary from region to region, store to store and restaurant to restaurant. If you want spirits, it is state store only (ABC). The only exception to all of this is if you happen to stumble across a dry county or municipality.
As was mentioned, you can buy it in grocery stores. Beyond that, I recall from my days working for a wholesaler, that NC ranks surprisingly high in the country for wine sales. If you are going to the triangle (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill), you will have absolutely no problem finding great wines. There are a number of excellent retailers and it's not hard to find good wine on restaurant lists. Certainly the chains are rather predictable, of course, but the independants do a good job.
As for NC wines themselves, decent is the operative word. I've had plenty that were pretty good, but could often think of dozens of wines for the same money that were significantly better. I think the grape that does best here is Cab Franc. A few names to look for if you want to check the local juice out: Westbend (by far the oldest with vines as old as 30 years), Shelton, Ray Len, and Hanover Park.
NC and SC still have "dry" counties where no beer and wine are sold as well as "blue laws" which prohibit the sale of alcohol at all on Sundays or at least after 12noon.
to weigh in on the pricing issue: the internet has made it almost impossible for one market to really gouge prices over another from state to state. since people can look up wine ratings and srp on any number of different sites, it follows that the playing field, so to speak, is going to be more level.
that said, large retailers such as total wine and sam's club are going to have an advantage over independent retailers because of the sheer volume that they move. not always the best selection, however, and certainly not the most well-informed staff.
You definitely shouldn't bring your own. Wine availability has come a very long way in the last decade. As noted above, Total Wine, Costco and Sam's Club have made the market competitive. Many supermarket wine departments are getting better, and any metro area like Charlotte, Raleigh, Asheville, Greensboro, Columbia and Charleston will have good independent wine stores.
Beyond retail question, North Carolina's wine industry is growing very fast. While cab franc is one of the grapes that does well here, the grape to watch for is viognier. Many winemakers are putting a lot of stock in it because it grows very well here. If you have interest in touring, the N.C. Grape Council provides a good brochure that maps all the wineries in the state.
I never miss a chance to stop by Rockhouse when I'm headed toward the mountains, Childress is getting more and more recognition, Shelton and Biltmore have beautiful facilities, and if you go to Raylen, there's a good ol' barbecue place called Snook's just up the road. So yes, you can pick up a bottle of wine and get a barbecue sandwich to go with it.
re: kathleen purvis
Wow. I've been dying to get a reveiw on Rockhouse. Can you please tell me what to expect from a trip there? I have never actually done a "winery tour". I don't know if they actually do a tour, or just have a tasting room, etc. I live no more than 30 minutes away, but for some reason, have never made it there. How are the wines?
The only NC wines I have had were Shelton and Biltmore, which were awful and mediocre, respectively. However, that's been a few years, so I still have high hopes for Rockhouse.
There is a good selection of wines in NC groceries and wine/cheese stores. In the Banner Elk/Blowing Rock/Boone area Peabody's Wine Store and Erick's Wine and Cheese are good as well Harris Teeters. The only statewide restriction is that no spirits can be served or sold before noon on Sunday.
I am heading out with some neighbors in a few minutes to tour several Yadkin Valley wineries including Westbend and Buck Shoals with arrangements for a catered dinner at Buck Shoals. I will report back.
There will be continued growth in NC wineries. I read this morning about a second annual conference at Appalachian State University for the NC wine industry: http://www.wiselab.appstate.edu/
Jim Lavis with Carolina Winesellers in Lewisville was our guide to a few Yadkin Valley wineries yesterday He holds Saturday afternoon wine tastings and carries a few of his favorite wines from many/most of NC wineries. He has a good grasp of the NC & Yadkin Valley wine scene. http://www.carolinawinesellers.com/
Of the wines I sampled at Westbend I wound up purchasing a barrel aged Chardonney and a Chambourcin. I purchased a "Rocco Red" table wine from Buck Shoals.
Lewisville is in the heart of Yadkin Valley and it appears there are many lovely bed and breakfasts. Jim gave me the name of a few of his favorite restaurants in the area and I can't find my notes. I told Jim about this website and hopefully we will hear from him.
I picked up a copy of "On the Vine" a publication about NC wine country news which has detailed informaiton about the wineries/recent awards and calendar of events. I was unable to locate a current website. There are many concerts and special events listed for the coming months...July 15th is the Riverhouse Winefest on the New with tastings from Yadkin Valley wineriest with music and food.July 22 Shelton at Sunset summer concert...July 29 Sangioviese Saturday at Raffaldini Vineyards and numerous harvest festivals this in the Fall.
Here is a link with map of NC wineries. Most all of the wineries have their own websites. http://www.ncwine.org/wineries.html
To keep this "chow" related...I read that The Bistro at Childress Vineyards is a finalist in the inaugural "Best Dish in NC" contest sponsored by the Goodness Grows in North Carolina Program. Any comments? http://www.childressvineyards.com/hom...
In summary, I enjoyed my first visit to NC vineyards and look forward to expanding my knowledge of NC wines.
Depending where you are in NC, there are stores Total Wine, that has good prices, but don't listen to them if they try to get you to buy something because they just want to sell "their"
brands. World Market has a nice selection, they are usually in a shopping center with a Target.
As far as grocery store chains, your best bet is Harris Teeter,
Lowe's, Whole Foods, Earth Fare or specialty store. If you are really keen on prices, you can see what is really a bargain
sometimes the store has them on sale, but then you can find it somewhere else for the same price not on sale.
As far as pricing, I can't imagine it not being around the same prices, within two or three dollars.
Danna: Glad to. I've been several times and I always get a kick out of the place. The house is in the middle of the vineyards, a few miles off U.S. 74. The house really is made of rocks. It was built in the 1950s and it still has a funky '50s feel that reminds me of my grandmother's house. You enter through the old kitchen and the tasting room is in the knotty pine living room. It has a cozy, friendly feel; be sure to check out the mantel, made from local rocks. Marsha Cassedy and Lee Griffith of Charlotte bought the house years ago to use as a weekend retreat before they got the idea to plant a few acres of grapes. They spend their weekends there, but during the week it's run by Jay Adams. Jay is a gem -- a retired chemist who started out working in the tasting room and now helps to make the wine. As for the wines, I think Rockhouse is some of the best in the state. The first time we did a tasting of N.C. wines for a story, in 2001, both Rockhouse and RayLen were standouts. This year, I particularly like Rockhouse's Hadley Field Viognier, and Jay has done a wild yeast chardonnay that is always worth trying.
If you happen to be in Chapel Hill, A Southern Season has really excellent wines. Somewhat high end but excellent selection and a few things I've never even seen retailed outside of Napa.