benjaminvineyards.jpgBenjamin Vineyards & Winery - Graham, NC
by Cat Moleski, features Editor

The Southeast is home to the Muscadine grape, also known as the scuppernong grape. So it is natural that vineyards and wineries in our region would tend toward Muscadine and Scuppernong wines. Even though Scuppernong wine is a regional favorite, don't overlook the other grape varietals being grown and turned into wine in our state. Located just over the county line in Alamance County, the Benjamin Vineyard and Winery is only four years old, but they've already got a very nice line up of wines. The Zemanns started making wine in their garage in Indiana before moving to this area where the climate and soil are good for growing grapes. Their winery is a hands on operation, producing around 1000 cases this year and probably topping out at 3000 in the next two years.

The winery is open for tours and tastings noon to five, Sunday through Thursday, so I zipped out there last weekend. Their list of wines includes Chardonnay (both oaked and un-oaked), Chardonnel (a blend of Chardonnay and Seyval hybrid grapes), Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet, Chambourcin, and of course several Muscadine wines. I'm no wine expert, but I tasted them all and like them all. My favorites were the Chardonnays, and the Hunt (a 3% residual sugar Muscadine red wine). Weaver Street Market carries the Chambourcin, the Chardonnel, and the Magnolia, a 4% residual sugar Muscadine wine. Muscadine wines are renowned for their high levels of antioxidants.

It's wonderful to know that North Carolina is producing such fine wines. Buying them for myself or as a gift for family and friends is a great way to introduce people to the diversity of our local agriculture and to support our local economy. I hope you get a chance to visit them soon.