JC is a veteran of the wine industry with a penchant for trying and buying wine from unknown regions, grapes, and styles, from around the world.
Erin is a big fan of bright, citrus flavors packed into dry, acidic Sauvignon Blancs.
We had hoped to find a couple wineries that tickled both fancies over Memorial Day weekend, while assuming we’d find more sweet wine venues, given the semi-rural nature of Lenoir, NC.
Here’s how we find the beautiful vistas, vibrant vino, intriguing people, and a few ‘cork dorks’ that JC can chat with about their geeky options.
Step 1. Search for wineries nearby at each stop.
Step 2. Research offerings to hone in on those that have a mix of dry, old world style reds, roses, and plenty of white wines. We skip those that focus mostly on proprietary red blends with words like ‘semi sweet’ or ‘soft’, hybrid grapes, and/or fruit wine, as they tend to be sweeter.
Step 3. Plan visits to two wineries per outing so we can take our time at each while not over doing it.
Surprise #1 – Looks can be deceiving!
On Memorial Day we visited Six Waterpots winery in N.C. and by the looks of their website it appeared to be an unassuming, small winery with a focus on apple and other fruit wines with a few traditional grape varieties offered. We took a chance, called ahead, and were offered a private tasting even though they were closed that day.
The husband and wife team were a unique mix of hilarious self-deprecating jokes, Christian faith (the winery is named after a passage in the bible), and scientific exploration by way of her wine making style. Turns out the wife had a particular appreciation for the Carmenere grape, one of JC’s favorites!
We enjoyed a 10-wine tasting for $5 each! Along with cheese and crackers. Tucked away in their basement was their tasting room and we were serenaded by a lovely piano played by the husband as his wife spoke about her life as a pilot, flying instructor cum wine maker!
Before we left with a half case of our preferred wines, a red Sangiovese and a couple whites, they had us taste a few of their fruit wines. Surprisingly, the green apple wine was dry and really balanced!
Not-So-Surprised #2 – Assumptions are often affirmed when you least expect them.
Browsing their selection online before our visit JC had a hunch this place would be a winner. Dry reds, unique varieties, plentiful whites, they hit all the marks of our “strategy”.
Upon arrival you’re greeted by a gorgeous, rustic-orange winery with vineyards sprawling out across sloped hills and a beautiful patio area!
Inside you find an equally impressive tasting area and some seriously well-designed bottle labels. We were excited to get to tasting!
We paid for a six course tasting and started off with their Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Next came an interesting Pinot Noir Rose and a red made from a rare grape called Regent. Finally, we had their Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. All of which proclaimed to be made in “dryer styles”. That’s the thing about wine in general and wine terms specifically, looks and words can be deceiving.
Dryness in wines refers to the amount of residual sugar, or lack thereof. Think soda (sweet) vs unsweetened tea (dry). And while their wines were not that high in terms of sugar, all of them were definitely far too sweet for our liking. Due to the grounds being so beautiful we grabbed a glass of the two “driest” wines we could and sat on their patio. Neither glass ended up being finished.
Suffice to say, when you know what you like to drink, even some good internet sleuthing can’t overcome the winemaking styles once the cork is popped. It’s the experience we’re after and maybe a few bottles for the Chateau To-Go wine bar.