Sadly shadowed and run alongside California Wine Month is a month dedicated to the wines of North Carolina.
North Carolina has hundreds of years of grape growing history, and in the mid-19th century, boasted 25 wineries and dominated the national market in the US until post-civil war times when the money and manpower dried up in addition to revocation of licenses due to regulatory retribution against the south. The grape that made it all possible was the first cultivated and native southeastern American grape, Scuppernong (Muscadine) of the Vitis rotundifolia family (the muscadines).
Scuppernong is a very aromatic and sweet grape that can range from green to bronze in color, and somewhat resembles large white table grapes. It is highly possible that the world’s oldest cultivated grapevine is a Scuppernong vine known as the “Mother Vine” at over 400 years old on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. In modern times the grape is used for both winemaking and jams/jellies. The majority of plantings currently reside in the Coast region of North Carolina.
North Carolina has 3 major regions with 5 recognized AVA sites: ‘Coast’ on the eastern portion of the state (currently absent of AVA’s), ‘Piedmont’ which encompasses the large swash of the middle of the state (AVA’s: Haw River Valley, Swan Creek, and Yadkin Valley), and ‘Mountains’ in the western most portion of the state (AVA’s: Appalachian High Country, Upper Hiwassee Highlands, Swan Creek, and Yadkin Valley).
Though Scuppernong is worth talking about from a historical context, it is the European Vitis vinifera (Pretty much every wine you’ve ever drank) that is emphasized for plantings today. Since 2000 the majority of wines produced in the state are from this family of grape, although it is not uncommon to find French-American hybrid plantings and Vitis labrusca (Concord grape) in North Carolina today as well.