What's Cooking in Carolina?

Mainly creative menus and recipes (usually healthy) and always from scratch with tips for party planning, theme parties, weddings and decorating tips so you can give swank parties or dinners to delight your guests from a part time caterer, owner/operator of a coming soon Entree Vous, but mainly a cook and eater who grows much of her own food and loves to laugh.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

NC Wine at the State Fair

Last time I said I would let you know what happened at the competition. So, let's discuss the NC wine. North Carolina has one of the fastest growing wine and vineyard markets in the US. We are now the 10th largest in grape production and 12th largest wine production state in the country and my guess is that we are the fastest growing with 55 bonded wineries as of today. Here is a link to some fast facts: NC Wine facts

There are good and bad things about this growth. First, I think having a local wine industry is a good thing and there will always be a market for good local wine. However, I think that the WORLD wants to be like California and that is a real issue. First, we do not have the soil or climate that they have. We have not had a severe winter (or early frost in the fall or late frost in the spring). We have not had a severe hurricane since the phenomenal growth of the industry (knock on wood). I think it is just a matter of time before some of these loose a lot of crops and go out of business. Everybody grows Chardonnay and Cabernet. It would be nice to have a market centered on something unique to the region. You can not sustain a crop of Zinfandel here. It is unfortunate (I love a big Zin!) but true! So the growers should be growing what grows here well and the researchers should be developing new varieties that grow well here and make good wine! Ha! That's easy for me to say. Hold that thought and we'll come back to it.

Back to the wine tasting. There were 80 wines entered into the amateur competition and 244 wines from 37 wineries entered into the commercial competition. The amateur wines were judged by 6 judges over 1/2 a day and the commercial judges were judged by 9 judges over a day and a half. That's 2 full days of judging, folks!

There are 2 superintendents and several helpers. I am one of the 2 helpers who have been assisting since the competition started seven years ago. It is a lot of work. You have to open all those bottles of wine and get out rented glasses and pour it. It makes a mess. You are on your feet all day long.

However, even though the judges are sitting most of the day they have to taste it all. There were three panels of three judges each which meant each judge tasted at least 81 glasses before the final run-off. It is interesting, because we get to keep up with who is making what and what the wineries are growing and making and what is winning out as the best. It is very informative.

And the winners are....drum roll......

The best of show for the amateur competition was Scott Pearson. He and his wife, Tina Motley Pearson are very dear friends of ours. Scott is an excellent wine maker who makes wine from grapes of vineyards of friends and along with others has grapes shipped in from California. The winner was a Syrah blend. This is the second time Scott has entered a wine into the competition and both times he won Best of Show!Side note: Tina is a potter who has been featured on HGTV. She makes creative whimsical animals. Check out her website: Motley Critters

The Best of Show for the commercial competition was Childress Vineyards Syrah. Childress is one of the newer wineries in NC, owned by NASCAR mogul Richard Childress. His vineyard and winery are north of Charlotte near Lexington, NC. His winemaker is Mark Friszolowski, an award winning winemaker who was previously a wine maker on Long Island. I went to their website http://www.childressvineyards.com/home.asp to look up how to spell his name and learned two things:

I didn't know (imagine that): first, when the wreckage of the Titanic was recovered in 1986, the corks of the still wine bottles had imploded under the ocean pressure, but the majority of the champagne bottles were still intact. Wow! And second, removing a cork requires a pull equivalent of lifting approximately 100 lbs. I know I opened at least 150 bottles of wine over those 2 days. No wonder my hands were red!

If you want to see the entire list of winners, here is the website:

As far a grape growing and which varieties to grow, if you go to the website of the winners, you will learn that my husband, Jeff, is one of the few grape breeders in the world. He makes some wine crosses, trying to breed disease resistance into vinifera but his primary research is breeding seedlessness into muscadines. Since my entire house smells like the essense of grapes at this moment, my next post is going to be on grapes. I didn't get pictures at the wine competition, but these will be pictures of grapes and recipes coming up next! ANd you'll learn something about the southern grape too!

Until then, check out our website for recipes Swank Recipes and drink one on us! Try NC Wine! Cheers!


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