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Nov 27, 2006 02:52 AM

Yapa - Are North Carolina wines any good?

On ABC World News there was a report that North Carolina tobacco farmers are starting to plant wine grapes. ABC said "North Carolina's wines are winning awards domestically and holding their own against the world's best."

So what are respected North Carolina wines?

The report only mentioned Boonville's RagApple Lassie Vineyards owned by Frank and Lenna Hobson who christened the wine-growing Yadkin Valley, "Yapa".

Boonville. That would be where they make ... nah.

The ABC World News report

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  1. I haven't had that many -- Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from Chatham Hill and, of course, some sparkling wine from the Biltmore Estate. Think of California in the 1950s and you might have a close approximation. If you aren't old enough to recall wines that old when they were young, think of Chile in the 1970s, or perhaps Eastern Europe.

    In other words, although North Carolina claims to be 12th in total U.S. wine production, don't forget that California (which is, obviously #1) makes approximately 90 percent of all wine inthe U.S. Twelfth sounds a lot more impressive than it is.

    1. RW... all I can say is, I hope they are better than Illinois wines.

      1. Childress wines from the Yadkin valley are worth a try. One think to note about the Biltmore Estate wines, a lot of the grapes they use are grown in California.

        1. Biltmore makes a few decent wines, but I haven't had any others that are worth much.

          1. Ooh, one of my favorite new obsessions... There are plenty of good NC wines, especially from the Yadkin Valley. (Yadkin Valley is currently our only certified appelation.) RagApple Lassie is one of my personal favorites, although for consistency and variety I'd say West Bend is the best (it's also one of the oldest, old being around 20-30 yrs here). I also recommend Raffaldini, and Buck Shoals Vineyards has several good lighter table reds. In general, Viogner and Sangiovese do well here and you'll see a lot of those, as well as the usual Chardonnay, Merlot, Cab, etc.

            I wasn't terribly impressed with Childress, but he's pretty new and has a lot of money to throw at it, so give it 5 years. Biltmore has a lot of cheap swill but some decent estate-grown wines. They sell an awful lot of wine, and it can't all be good. And yes, they do ship grapes from California.

            6 Replies
            1. re: kerdragon

              Kendra, we've only had a couple of bottles of Biltmore, and it was so bad we took one back to the wine store. We're planning a major event in Charlotte in October, and are looking for an NC vineyard (we want to support local businesses), but are afraid of what we might get. Is there an NC vineyard that could be trusted to supply good wine for a high-end crowd? This is the show's website. As you can see, it's very high-end art: Thanks!

              1. re: BillUnderwood

                I encourage you to visit Raffaldini to try their wines.

                Here's a report of my tour of NC wineries from 2012.

                1. re: AreBe

                  There are some good wines and wineries in NC, I echo AreBe's praise offamily owned and run Raffaldini -- I was most impressed with them, their philosophy and their wines from Italian varieties when I visited them.

                  And also the Bordeaux vareiety blends made by RayLen Vineyards and Winery, and they also do a good Chardonnay.

                  I think wines from both or either would satisfy for the Charlotte event.

                  (Unfortunately Biltmore's wines do not live up to their price or marketing IMO, none are estate wines, their are some NC wines but most are made from 'American' fruit or in and from CA.)

                  1. re: Gussie Finknottle

                    Thanks, Gussie. We were in a grocery store in Charlotte, looking for a good NC wine, but another shopper told us there was no such thing. I knew someone would know. We'll look at the ones you suggested. Thanks again, and if you are in Charlotte in October, please visit

                    1. re: BillUnderwood

                      There's more than 100 wineries in NC now. Most are recent and the situation is, I expect, fluid.

                      Thanks for the invite. I wish, but I don't expect to be in NC this year. Last year I was there and took trips organised by the American Wine Society as part of their National Conference add-ons. I visited Biltmore on my own.

                      As always, for new wineries in non-fashionable states, distribution is the problem. For estate producers with low production it makes sense to sell direct.

                      For what it's worth, with a very limited amount that I could carry home on a plane, my choices were:

                      2012 Raffaldini Vineyards Montepulciano Riserva Swan Creek (USA, North Carolina, Yadkin Valley)
                      2012 Raffaldini Vineyards Montepulciano Swan Creek (USA, North Carolina, Yadkin Valley)
                      2012 RayLen Cabernet Sauvignon Category 5 (USA, North Carolina, Yadkin Valley) [
                      2011 RayLen Eagle's Select (USA, North Carolina)

                      no disrespect to their white wines, but I'm a red wine chappy