N.C. wine is on the rise
by Catherine Currin
You can take a selfie with a llama at Divine Llama Vineyards in East Bend, or enjoy wine with a coastal breeze at Sanctuary Vineyards in the Outer Banks. From smooth blends in the mountains to sweet sips on the coast, North Carolina wine is making a name for itself.
In fact, America’s first grape grew on Roanoke Island in 1584, and the official state fruit is the Scuppernong grape. North Carolina has remained the only region in the world with the climate to support every type of grape, according to the department of agriculture’s N.C. Wine initiative. After years of development, there’s also now a hub for the science behind oenophilia.
At the Appalachian State Enology Service Lab, run by Appalachian State University, lab coordinator Rusty Kuhfeld tests everything from general wines, beers, and ciders to specialty hops and heirloom apple varieties. Statewide winemakers can send their bottles to the lab in Boone for expert testing and research, which helps them perfect their process to produce fine wines. “We provide the analytical capability to local wineries who don’t have the in-house resources,” Kuhfeld says.
He says the lab so far has been a boon to the state’s growing wine industry. The lab has worked with wineries across the state, as well as the Golden Leaf Foundation and N.C. State’s agriculture department to conduct research in fermentation science. You can even get your bachelor’s degree from ASU in the subject, alongside more than 100 students currently studying North Carolina booze.With more than 500 vineyards in the state, there’s plenty to study – and to sample.