Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Trip to a Local Vineyard

Last Saturday, some of my new friends and I traveled to Willow Spring, NC to visit Adams Vineyards. The vineyard is primarily muscadine grapes.  If you are from NC, you have probably eaten the native muscadine grapes off the vine.

Photo Credit: GAFRO via Creative Commons
The green grapes shown here are Scuppernong.  I guess I should have known but didn't that Scuppernong is a type of Muscadine. My Mother's parents grew muscadine grapes. My strongest memory of the grapes was that I often sought refuge from the summer heat under the vine. While trying to stay cool, I would often eat a grape or two. 

I want to tell you more about the things I learned and admire about the people behind Adams Vineyard. First of all, Joyce Adams, the owner, sat with us and told us the Vineyard history, which when you come right down to it is her personal history too. Joyce was so open about telling us how they decided to begin the vineyard and some of the things that she has learned along the way. I'm sure Joyce will not mind if I share this history--especially if you decide to try their wine sometime soon. (Check out their website: Adams Vineyards)

The land is over 100 acres and has been in the Adams' family since the 1700s.  It was granted to them by the King of England in a Land Grant and has not left the family since. The Adams family has lived on the farm for nine generations. Joyce lives in the same house that her husband was born in. 

In recent history, the land was primarily used for tobacco farming. Joyce said she knew of a time when there was a dammed creek or river and they were able to grow rice as well. The Adams farm (like most, if not all tobacco farms) were part to the Tobacco Allotment program which ended in a buyout in 2004.  
Photo Credit:

It was then that John decided to begin a vineyard. The first grape was planted in February 2006. It sounds like Joyce did most of the actual planting. John had become ill and was not able to plant himself, but Joyce said he supervised her from the truck. It is fun to hear Joyce tell the story. She says the vineyard was John's dream...not hers, and yet she was the one putting plants in the ground and putting grape grow tubes around the young plants.

Joyce and John had to learn to navigate the requirements of running this new business which includes working with the FDA for approvals as well as obtaining building permits and following a multitude of building codes. This was all in addition to the investment required for the wine tanks and fermenters and coolers. It takes a lot of fortitude to decide to undertake this business from scratch. Clearly John and Joyce had that fortitude. The vineyard began with five acres of grapes that has now grown to eight acres with nine varieties of Muscadine grapes. The vineyard opened their doors to visitors in September 2008.

John had recovered enough to be the primary wine maker of the business. He had been doing well with his illness and had a good prognosis. But in October he became suddenly seriously sick. He was hospitalized and died within a week.

Joyce tells this part of the story sweetly. Being with her husband in the hospital was clearly another paragraph in their love story. They had been married fifty years. Joyce told us that as she sat with her husband he was very alert and still thinking of the vineyard. He kept telling her to remember to do this and remember to do that. Joyce told John not to worry...that the vineyard would be fine. She and their son, Quincy, have made good on that promise.

Quincy took over the management of the grapes and wine making. Quincy's approach to wine making is different from his father's. Joyce says that you can tell from the taste if the wine was developed by Quincy or his father.

My Friends at the Vineyard. Joyce is 2nd from left.
In all, we tasted 8 wines. For me the clear favorite was Papa Johnny's White Bliss (one of their semi sweet wines).  It was crisp and light and not overly sweet.  I liked it enough to get a bottle. I learned after buying my bottle that this was Quincy's first recipe. He named it for his father. Somehow knowing this makes the wine and the experience even sweeter.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love comments. They make me very happy. Thanks for making me happy today!