NC Wine Month: A Celebration of Local Wines

Photo credit: Duke Energy

This May, North Carolina is celebrating its local wines during NC Wine Month. It is a time to recognize the industry’s impact, drink some award-winning, local wine, and support local businesses. There are many great wineries in our state, and this month is a perfect opportunity to explore them all! In this blog post, we will discuss the history of North Carolina wine, the current state of the NC wine industry, and how you can support RayLen Vineyards & Winery this month!

The History of NC Wine

North Carolina’s Grapes

North Carolina wine has a deep history. When 16th-century European explorers landed on the shores of modern-day North Carolina’s coast, they regularly wrote back home raving about the grapes. In 1584, a British captain described a land “so full of grapes as the very beating and surge of the sea overflowed them.” The following year, another traveler also took notice: “grapes of such greatness, yet wild, as France, Spain, nor Italy hath no greater.” The grapes they were writing about, muscadines, were the first species of North American grape to be heavily cultivated. North Carolina is home to the first known muscadine vine. It is 400 years old and is considered the oldest cultivated grapevine in the country. It can be found on Roanoke Island, NC and is known as the “Mother Vine.” Today, about 1000-1,200 acres of muscadines are currently grown in North Carolina. The greatest concentration of muscadine-growing farms is in eastern North Carolina, but muscadine vineyards and wineries can still be found throughout the state.

Commercial Vineyards

The first recorded commercial vineyard and winery in North Carolina was established in 1835 by Sidney Weller. The winery could be found in the small community of Brinkleyville. In the 1850s, viticulture began to spread inland from the coast as German immigrants settled in. In the mid-nineteenth century, North Carolina had around 25 wineries with significant independent vines, to such a degree that it dominated the national wine market at the time.

Industry Disruptions

The Civil War severely disrupted the winemaking industry. Wine production began to recover in the decades after the war through the early 20th Century but then North Carolina voted to become a dry state in 1908. That decision, coupled with the onset of prohibition, ended winemaking in North Carolina. Repealed in 1933, followed by the passage by North Carolina’s legislature in 1935 of laws permitting winemaking, began a rebirth, but it was several decades after World War II before North Carolina’s wine industry would show significant growth. During the 1970’s, state legislature reduced annual winery fees and cut the state tax on native table wine. This was all in an attempt to help stimulate the growth and development of new wineries – and it was a success! Many new wineries opened soon after this and it began the wave of growth we see today.

North Carolina Wine Today

Today, North Carolina is home to 186 wineries with more than 525 individually owned grape vineyards on 2,300 acres that are spread across the state. The North Carolina Wine industry has an economic impact of more than $2 Billion, and is responsible for more than 10,000 jobs.

How to Participate in NC Wine Month

May is an excellent time to choose to drink NC Wine and support your locally-owned vineyards and wineries. There are several ways you can participate in NC Wine Month:

Social Media

We encourage everyone to share pictures on your social media accounts enjoying RayLen Vineyards with friends, family, and loved ones in different settings and locales. Be sure to tag us and use hashtags #raylenvineyards and #ncwine for a chance to be featured on our accounts!

Where to Find RayLen Wines

  • Order Wine Online

Stock up on your favorite RayLen wines or try something new delivered right to your door. Whether you want to order a bottle or a case, our online store features all our available wines at a great price. We offer free shipping within NC for all case purchases. Purchase a full case (12 bottles) for 20% off and automatic membership into our Case Club!

  • Local Markets, Restaurants & Bars

If you’re local to Winston-Salem, NC and surrounding areas, you don’t have to drive to Mocksville to try our wines! Look for us on the wine menu at one of the local restaurants, bars, or markets listed below. Please note that the businesses listed below were updated as of April 2022. We recommend calling ahead to confirm availability.

Winston Salem:
The Board Babe Charcuterie Café
Willows Bistro
Washington Perk and Provisions
Rooster’s: A Noble Grill
Canteen Market and Bistro
Dogwood Hops and Crops
Cowboy Restaurant
Ryan’s Restaurant
Fratelli’s Italian Restaurant
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar
Poppyseed Provisions
Black Mountain Chocolate
Village Tavern
Bernardin’s Restaurant
River Birch Lodge
Salem Kitchen
Courtyard by Mariott
Double Tree by Hilton
Monte de Rey (Walkertown)
Daily Basket (Germanton)
Campus Gas
Bar Nola

RISE Indoor Fitness
Davie Tavern
Bermuda Run Country Club

East Bend:
Kitchen Roselli

J. Butler’s Bar and Grille
Old Nick Williams Distillery
Mossy’s Eats, Ales and Spirits

Food Freaks Unique Burgers
Restaurant 101
Station General Store and Taproom

First Flight Bikes

The Smoke and Oak
Bull City Ciderworks

Charlotte and Surrounding Area:
The Melting Pot (Huntersville)
The Melting Pot (Charlotte)
Rocksalt Charlotte
Village Tavern
73 and Main
Bleu Barn Bistro

Aixa Maria’s Gift Baskets
OutWest Steakhouse
Musten and Crutchfield Food Market
Pine Knolls Pub

Green Valley Grill
Sheraton Greensboro Hotel
Greensboro High Point Marriot

Chapel Hill:
Bin 54

Rocky Mount:
The Prime Smokehouse
Goat Island Bottle Shop

NC Coast and Outer Banks:
TRIO Restaurant and Market
Steamers Restaurant and Catering
Morris Farm Market
Corolla Wine, Cigar, Gourmet Shop

West Jefferson:
Carolina Country Wine

Benchmark Provisions Beer and Wine Market

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating NC Wine Month!

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