by The Traveling Winers
Along U.S. Highway 64 traveling through North Carolina toward our final destination in the Outer Banks, we stumbled upon a little winery alongside the road, in a very picturesque setting beside this winding river called the Scuppernong. It wasn’t difficult to catch our eye as you really can’t miss the big red letters on the top of the quaint little building, announcing that a winery resides within the walls. Feeling the need to explore this little stumbled-upon treasure, we decided to take a short break from our travels and visit our first North Carolina winery.
Grape History Along the Scuppernong
As it turns out, although North Carolina isn’t the first state that comes to mind when thinking of the history of wines in the United States, it does have its place in grape history. Way back in the 1500’s, when the European settlers were sent to explore the eastern coast, they found awaiting them an abundant growth of grapes that appeared to be native to the land. The grape was called the Muscadine and was found all along the wide winding river called the Scuppernong. With over 300 cultivars of this varietal, the Scuppernong Muscadine was the very first named.
Vineyard and winery owner, Jack Bishop, owns 300 acres of land along this beautiful river and discovered that his land was also the host of many Muscadine vines. Around the year 2000, Jack began his vineyard planting Muscadine vines as well as another native grape varietal, the Catawba. In 2008, in order to bring his wine closer to the ever-flowing traffic along U.S. Highway 64, Jack opened a tasting room in a restored building in nearby Columbia that used to serve as the town hall and fire station. It is a quaint little set-up with plenty of room for tasters of wine and shoppers of fun, unique and gourmet food items. And lovers of coffee and those in need of early morning or afternoon sustenance are sure to also find something to their liking as there is a small coffee shop/café also available.
Most of their wines are on the sweet side. In addition to using their estate grown Muscadine and Catawba grapes, they also source some Chardonnay and Merlot from outside the state and utilize other fruits such as peach, blackberries, red raspberries, etc. Here are just a few of what they offered during our visit:
Catawba Belle – A semi-sweet white wine with a hint of crispness on the finish
Somerset – Sweet tangerine blended with a touch of lemon
Peach – A light peach wine, nice a fresh for a summer day
Apple Jack – A blend of the Riesling grape and green apple
Tyrrell – 100% Merlot with sweet, smooth berry flavors and a hint of spice
Black “Berry” – Blackberries blended with Muscadine grapes
Jack Ass Red – A sweet red Muscadine wine
The Winer’s Experience
|AMBIANCE||GROUNDS & SCENERY||TASTING ROOM|
|Quaint, warm and welcoming||The outdoor patio looked like a lot of fun to be had on a nice warm day. And the Scuppernong River is just so idyllic with all its winding curves and scenery. Very pretty.||Nice and spacious with a warm, welcoming feel. There is plenty of room for multiple tasters and definitely plenty of room for shoppers! And don’t forget to enjoy the cafe area….very yummy!|
|WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE||CUSTOMER SERVICE||TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE|
|The wine tasting experience was relaxed and laid back and left for you to enjoy at your own pace and with your group of friends. Not an educational experience, but one of just relaxing, enjoying and discovering new wines.||They were very friendly and welcoming. It was nice that they didn’t’ rush you along through the tasting.||Basic knowledge of the winery and its history. Not so much on winemaking processes and vineyard management as this would be found more on a tour of the vineyard.|
Vineyard & Winery Information
|Vineyards on the Scuppernong||117 South Elm Street, Columbia, North Carolina 27925|
|Mon – Sat 10am – 5pm (Winter hours)|
|MUSIC||WINE CLUB||TASTING FEE|
|Wednesdays, June – Sept 3pm-7pm (check calendar)||Yes||Free|
|Yes, tours of the vineyards available at no charge. Reserve 2 days in advance.||Yes, snacks and small food items. Coffee shop inside tasting room.|