Arthur has already tried 130 of 186 of NC’s wineries!
Meet Arthur Barham, the host of the blog and media company, Merlot2Muscadine. His passion for wine, specifically in his home of North Carolina, has expanded into a platform where he visits and highlights the grape industry in the state. North Carolina is home to over 180 distinct wineries and has grown immensely over the last several years, going from a state that hardly produced wine, to the nation’s 11th wine producing region. In Arthur’s opinion, the wine industry in North Carolina is in the process of its redefinition stage. Typical southern grapevine species, like Muscadine, will be reintroduced to the nation in new and exciting ways, and those who cultivate grapes typically seen in Europe and other countries are becoming better known for their wine making expertise. Surely, it’s thanks to some new and exciting winemakers and producers here, presenting what they’ve learned through their tasting rooms, vineyards, and wineries. We spoke to Arthur about wines and wineries here in the state, and he highlighted 5 of the most undiscovered and charismatic wineries he’s experienced. From top-quality classics, to the fermentation process, to wines from international regions, here are 5 hidden gems you may not have discovered here in Charlotte, according to one of the state’s top wine enthusiasts.
Arthur’s first choice among this list is Baker Buffalo Creek, located in Lawndale. What keeps him coming back? His top choice there is the Chambourcin, a red table wine with notes of cherry, plum, and raspberry. His second choice is their Cabernet Sauvignon, elevated by its estate-grown grapes and French Oak Barrel aging. Some of their other interesting picks are their Milk House Blend wines, made with estate grown carlos and magnolia grapes that taste like scuppernogs, and their Between The Rivers reserve, a hearty full-bodied blend.
Where: 3521 Fallston-Waco Rd, Lawndale, NC 28090
Kefi Vineyards & Winery is located in Monroe and specializes in Greek wines. If you’ve never tried Greek wine and the beauty of Mediterranean grapes like Ribola Gialla or Mavron, then Kefi is a great spot to find it. ‘Kefi‘ the Greek word that means ‘spirit of joy’ or a ‘zest for life’ is owned by Vasiliki, the daughter of Greek immigrants and a self-taught winemaker and viticulturist. She opened the winery around a year ago, though she began growing grape varietals that spoke to her Greek ancestry prior, and now, her children help with the day-to-day operations. Arthur’s choice for his top wine there has got to be their Negro Amaro.
Where: 3109 Plyler Mill Rd, Monroe, NC 28112
Davesté Vineyards is about 40 miles north of Charlotte, located in Troutman, and is the perfect little day trip winery. Arthur also highlighted the fantastic wine labels Davesté features, painted by a wonderful group of local women who work in watercolor, which you can purchase in person or at the shop. The three wines that Arthur recommended were the Riesling, the Rkatsiteli, and the Viognier, and he also highlighted the fact that Davesté also features a lovely art gallery and tasting room, so you can sip on some delicious vino and enjoy some lovely, contemporary art.
Where: 155 Lytton Farm Rd, Troutman, NC 28166
Morgan Ridge Vineyards is located in Gold Hill and they specialize in both delicious wines and craft beer, but what keeps Arthur coming back is their Chardonnay. When I asked Arthur what set this Chardonnay apart from the rest, he mentioned the aging process and indeed, Morgan Ridge lets their Chardonnay age for 12 months in a combination of Hungarian and Russian Oak which creates a rich, creamy, vanilla note alongside hints of floral. They’ve got a few craft beers on the menu like their Caramel Coconut Cream Ale or their Ridge Red if beer is more your style. They’ve also got an events venue where local bands perform live music. Colton Sherill, a singer/songwriter, was the latest musician to perform in June, but keep track of their calendar to find out more about upcoming events.
Where: 486 John Morgan Rd, Gold Hill, NC 28071
Dennis Vineyards in Albemarle is 13 miles away from Charlotte, but don’t let that deter you from checking out Arthur’s 5th pick. Dennis specializes in the NC’s native Muscadine, a grape that grows specifically in southeastern and south-central United States. Order a Muscadine if you fancy, or try one of their special fruit-flavored wines like Blackberry, Strawberry, or Cherry, of which Arthur will often buy a bottle to make wine slushies at home. Another of their highlights is their lovely events facility, A Place In the Vines, perfect for weddings. For fans of sweet wines, you won’t want to miss Dennis Vineyards.
Where: 24043 Endy Rd, Albemarle, NC 28001