Yadkin Valley Wine Facts

The Yadkin Valley wine region, formally known as the Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area, is a relatively new wine-growing region in northwestern North Carolina. The area is about 1.4 million acres in the Yadkin River valley and includes all of Wilkes, Surry, and Yadkin counties, and parts of Davie, Davidson, Forsyth and Stokes counties.

In 2003, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms approved a new appellation for the region -- the Yadkin Valley appellation -- allowing winemakers to bottle wines with a label indicating that the wine came from the Yadkin Valley. 

For decades, the area was a key tobacco-growing region. However, as tobacco farming and cigarette manufacturing in the area decline, some entrepreneurs, including tobacco farmers, are turning to winemaking.

The native grapes of this region of the southeastern United States are the muscadine and the scuppernong. Early attempts to grow the European wine grape, Vitis vinifera, in the southeastern United States, including 18th century efforts by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, had mixed success. But in the past two to three decades, viticultural research has helped adapt these grapes to the climate, soil, and pests of the region. The Yadkin Valley area is in the piedmont and foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and some have compared the grape-growing conditions of the area to France's Burgundy.

A number of varieties of wines are made in the region, including, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Chambourcin, Merlot, Seyval Blanc, Saugiovese, Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, Semillon, Niagra, Syrah/Shiraz, Petit Vedot, Montepulciano, Nebbiolo, and other lesser known varieties.

Wine Glassware

Not all wine glassware is made alike and because of this the same wine drank from different styles and types of wine glasses will yield a variety of different tastes. Let's explore what makes them different and how to improve your knowledge of wine glassware.

Crystal Versus Glass
It has been well documented the benefits of using specifically lead crystal wine glassware vs regular glass. Wine that is swirled and tasted from a crystal glass yields a smoother taste to the wine because of how thin the crystal is spun. These thinner glasses allow the glassware to be formed without the “speed hump” on the rim of the glass, which is a non desired effect when tasting wine. When wine tasting with regular glass the wine literally jumps into your mouth over the speed hump missing many tasting receptors that it would normally hit in a crystal glass.

Wine tasters should opt for ‘Tulip shaped “ glassware when tasting several wines. Fluted glassware may be more ornate but does a poor job of keeping the wine in the glass when swirling it. Red wines need a larger “fish bowl shape” to expose the wine to more space to allow it to breathe better and open up before tasting. Narrower shaped glassware is fine for white wines especially Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc type wines. Riedel makes a “Bordeaux” style glass that I find perfect for all types of wine and is my preferred glass for wine tasting both at home and in the wineries.

Stem or No Stem
Preference is for stemmed when tasting wine so there is not a transfer of heat from your hands to the wine. Stemmed glassware is also easier to use when swirling your wine in your glass. If you’re just drinking at a picnic or around the house then pull out something you like to use. If your clumsy and break a lot of glassware then maybe plastic may be better !!

Specific Glassware
For many years, research has been conducted by the major wine glassware manufacturers as to specific glassware for specific style and varietal wines. In the past I have not been an advocate of purchasing specific wine glasses for specific wine tasted but after a recent Riedel tasting event held at Medaloni Cellars I have to say I am a believer of the technology. There were incredible differences. These type of glasses would not be cost effective for most wine tasters but for an enhanced wine tasting experience they offer the “wine snobs” a better avenue to taste their wine.

Wine glassware comes in all shapes and sizes with different materials used to make them. Go and find the type of glass you prefer and don’t worry about what others think. However, I do challenge the readership to do a sample tasting of the same wine in different types of glassware and see the remarkable differences in how the wine tastes. Make a party of the experience and invite friends over.