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Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery LLC

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The red wine you've been waiting for, 2014 Grande Riserva, now available for purchasegrr
Grande Riserva, as the name implies, represents the utmost and very best efforts of all that we do from the vineyard to the winery. In making this limited quantity wine, we used the finest and oldest Montepulciano, Petit Verdot and Sagrantino grapes, harvested at optimal ripeness and then triple sorted to create a decadent, powerful wine with a focused expression of Raffaldini Vineyards. We applied the Appassimento drying process to further concentrate the grapes' natural flavors and aromas. Finally, we placed the grapes in oak fermenters to further deepen the profile and age the wine in the best oak barrels available.

Less than 75 cases of this wine are available at $55 per bottle. Purchase limits are one case per person for wine club members and six bottles per person for the general public.

Purchase 2014 Grande Riserva


 


FEBRUARY EVENTS
31914920725_616a5eeb9c_bStarting February 131038244813_b49dbc1ec2_o
Sales of Raffaldini Vineyards' Pino Vino I - VIII helped benefit all animals in need through donations to local animal rescue agencies. If you have a rescue dog that you would like to be considered for the Pino Vino IX label, send us a photo and back story in 50 words or less between February 1-April 25. An independent panel of judges will narrow down the entries and then vote on a winner. The winning dog will then go on to represent all animals in need as the new Pino Vino ambassador featured on the label of our Pino Vino IX red wine.

Click here to see the Pino Vino rescue kennel of champions.

The winner will be revealed on the labels of Pino Vino IX at a grand unveiling ceremony on June 17, 2017. Make plans now to send us your living rescue dog photo through April 25. 
 

afternoon-with-the-winemakeAfternoon with the Winemaker
Saturday, February 4 | Sessions held at: 1pm & 3pm | $20 General Admission, $15 Wine Club, per person includes a glass of Raffaldini wine

Owner and Winemaker Jay Raffaldini and Assistant Winemaker Katy Kidd welcome you as they guide a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery from harvest to bottle. Enjoy this exclusive opportunity to tour the winery at Raffaldini Vineyards as we prepare to bottle our most popular new releases. You will learn how we craft our award-winning wines, as well as go step-by-step through the winemaking process. $20 per person or $15 per person for Wine Club Members includes a glass of wine of your choice. This event is for those age 21 and over. Stop by the tasting room, visit our web site, call 336.526.1078 or email us for more information or to make a reservation. *Cancelations with a full refund are accepted up to 7 days prior to the event. If you cancel less than seven days prior to the event, you will receive a full refund only if your reservation is re-booked.

Reserve Now
Afternoon with the Winemaker - 1pm General Admission
Afternoon with the Winemaker - 1pm Wine Club

Afternoon with the Winemaker - 3pm General Admission
Afternoon with the Winemaker - 3pm Wine Club

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For the Love of Chocolate...and Wine!
Saturday, February 11 | 12pm-5pm | Sunday, February 12 | 1pm-5pm| Free Admission

Raffaldini Vineyards and the Vineyards of Swan Creek celebrate Valentine's Day as each vineyard pairs one of their wines with a Valentine's Day sweet! At Raffaldini Vineyards, enjoy a complimentary sample of our famous Sangiovese-wine infused chocolate brownie paired with a tasting of an award-winning Raffaldini wine. A delicious way to start off your romantic weekend! This event is for those age 21 and over. Stop by the tasting room, visit our web site, call 336.526.1078 or email us for more information.


 
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Amore! The Language of Love
Sunday, February 12 |  1pm & 3pm | Free Admission, RSVPs Requested

Please visit Raffaldini Vineyards for this year's Amore workshop. Nada's Italy Tours of Charlotte, NC will introduce us to the Italian culture and essential tips on Italian customs that you need to know when traveling to Italy. Each workshop will be a one-hour session held on the second floor of Villa Raffaldini at 1pm and 3pm. Admission is free, but please RSVP as space is limited. Stop by the tasting room, visit our web site, call 336.526.1078 or email us for more information or to make a reservation.

RSVP Now - Amore! The Language of Love - 1pm

RSVP Now - Amore! The Language of Love - 3pm

 

827539-250Sat. Feb 18 - NC Fine Wines Competition Gala Dinner | Millenium Center Winston-Salem, NC | Click for Tickets
The unveiling of the North Carolina Fine Wines competition winners is only one portion of this celebration of North Carolina Fine Wines.  This will be an event to remember with fine wines and a six course dinner paired with outstanding wines from across the state. Wineries and wine lovers will learn the top 12 wines which will make up the 2017 NC Fine Wines Case. We're partnering with both the The Kimpton Hotel and The Graylyn Estate, both unique hotels in Winston-Salem. The boutique Kimpton Hotel is a block away from the Millennium Center, while The Graylyn Estate is an historic residence only 3 miles from downtown. Book your room online here with the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel or call the The Graylyn Estate (800) 472-9596 and mention the North Carolina Fine Wines Society Room Rate for February 17th & 18th, 2017.  


 
31732050601_c2ff55c310_bBarrel Tasting with the Winemaker
Saturday, February 25 |  1pm - 3pm | $25 per person

Enjoy an exclusive opportunity to sample wines from our cellar straight out of the barel with Owner and Winemaker Jay Raffaldini. This intimate, wine-focused event is limited to the first 36 Wine Club Members to RSVP. Be among the first to sample our exciting new vintages! Stop by the tasting room, visit our web site, call 336.526.1078 or email us for more information or to make a reservation.

Reserve Now - Barrel Tasting with the Winemaker
 

weddingsmast4NC Fine Wines Showcase Event - at the Umstead Hotel and Spa | Cary, NC
Tuesday, February 28


In January 2017, a panel of seven Advanced Sommeliers and one Master of Wine will have judged over 125 wines from vineyards in North Carolina. The top 12 wines from this competition make up the 2017 NC Fine Wines Case.

Join us at The Umstead Hotel and Spa on Tuesday February 28th from 5:30 - 7:30 to taste the best wines accompanied by succulent hors d'oeuvres. The winning vineyards will be there pouring you their award winning wines as well as sharing their story of what makes their wines so great.

This is a great educational opportunity for wine lovers to increase their knowledge of the quality of North Carolina wines and interact directly with the owners and winemakers that made them. What better way to spend a Tuesday night in February than sharing a Fine Wine in such a great location. Tickets are limited and will sell out quickly. Optionally, the Umstead Hotel & Spa would love for you to continue your evening in their restaurant and spend the night in their Forbes 5 Star-rated hotel.

Reserve Now

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Spring 2017 Wine Club Pickup Weekend
Friday, March 3, Saturday, March 4,  Sunday, March 5 | 12pm-4pm | TR Hours: Fri. & Sat. 11am-5pm - Sun. 12pm-5pm

Don't miss the first opportunity to pick up your all-new Spring Wine Club package! Enjoy a complimentary food and wine tasting featuring one of the new Wine Club releases paired with a recipe from your wine club Package. On Saturday, join Owner and Winemaker Jay Raffaldini for unique look into this new vintage at one of our 30 minute personal discussion at 1pm and 3pm. Exclusive wine club tastings and pairings will be held from 12pm-4pm on all three days. Tasting room hours are: Friday, 11am-5pm; Saturday, 11am-5pm; and 12pm-5pm on Sunday. Stop by the tasting room, visit our web site, call 336.835.9463 or email us for more information on how to sign up for the wine club.

Sign up for La Famiglia Raffaldini Wine Club

 
In the Community:

Raffaldini Wines Served at the Heart of the Community Truffle Dinner to Benefit The Children's Law Center of Central NC
Thursday, February 9 | 6pm-10pm

Raffaldini Vineyards will provide wines for a one-of-a kind dinner featuring locally-grown truffles. Sample our wines along with delicious dishes prepared by local favorites Chef Harrison Littel of The Honey Pot and Five Loaves Catering with Chef Richard Miller bringing you the best in truffle dishes and wines along with live music all for a great cause, The Children's Law Center of Central North Carolina.

Mark Your Calendars!

Sat. Mar 11 - Special Collaboration wine release featuring Raffaldini Vineyards and JOLO Winery
Tue. Mar 14 - NC Fine Wines Showcase Event - at the Duke Mansion | Charlotte, NC
Sat. Mar 18 - Barrel Tasting with the Winemaker Wine Club Only
Tue. Mar 28 - NC Fine Wines Showcase Event - at the Omni Grove Park Inn | Charlotte, NC

 

Raffaldini Vineyards is open year-round and there’s something for everyone on our full 2017 Events Calendar
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Salute!                                   
                                                                                                                                            

La Famiglia Raffaldini

Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery, LLC

Double Gold Medal 95 pts. 2012 Montepulciano Riserva | 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition

450 Groce Rd

Ronda, NC 28670

tel.336.835.9463

fax. 336.835.9330

          www.raffaldini.com



Hours: Weekdays & Saturday: 11am-5pm, Sunday: 12pm-5pm, Tuesday: closed

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Ship to States: DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MD, MN, MO, NC, NY, OH, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV


Please have photo ID available to present to our staff. Pets are not permitted on the premises. Picnics are welcome at our designated picnic areas; however, outside picnics and coolers are not permitted at the Villa. Only alcohol purchased at Raffaldini may be consumed on the premises. To insure the highest quality experience for all our visitors, we are unable to accommodate groups of eight or more for wine tasting without a reservation. Groups of eight or more need to reserve a private tasting package that will be held with an expert Raffaldini staff member. Please call 336.526.1078 or email us to check availability or make reservations for you group.

Raffaldini Vineyards
 
September 16, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

Festa Italiana This Saturday


14th Annual Festa Italiana THIS SATURDAY

Saturday, September 21 | 11am-5pm

 

 

One of the largest Italian celebrations in the Southeast features vendors from across the region including food, art, music, crafts, and of course, wine. You will also be able to purchase admission at the gate on the day of Festa. Ticket includes parking, admission to the festival, commemorative wine glass, and either a tasting of three select Raffaldini wines or a glass of wine.

Buy Now
 
Can't Go to Italy this Fall? Join Us! 
Afternoon in Tuscany
Sunday, October 6
$70 plus tax per person | General Admission
$60 plus tax per person | Wine Club Members

 

Indulge your senses and take off to Tuscany right here at Chianti in the Carolinas, Raffaldini Vineyards. Enjoy the cool, fall breeze while you stroll int0 the vineyard as the leaves are changing just after harvest. A traditional Tuscan lunch will await you, followed by a concert of Italian music. 

This event is for those age 21 and over. Stop by the tasting room, visit our website, call 336.526.1078 or email us for more information or to make a reservation. 

 

Sample Menu

Panzanella Salad
marinated tomato, crusty bread, red onion, fresh herbs, Tuscan herb EVOO, 18yr Balsamic
 
Grilled Asparagus
served cold with toasted almonds, citrus gremolata, extra virgin olive oil
 
Grilled Breast of Chicken
artichoke salad, sundried tomato, capers, fresh herbs
 
Zucchini-Bean Salad
summer vegetables, tomato, cannellini beans, fresh herbs
 
Torta Della Nonna
lemon-ricotta pastry cream, pine nuts, flaky pastry
 
Fresh Strawberries
18yr Balsamic, fresh basil, whipped mascarpone

Buy Now
 
Harvest 2019
 
 
 
 
 
Fall 2019 Wine Club Package
Click to learn more about the wine club package and complete your purchase below by choosing one of the options below.
 
Saturday, September 28
We will be closing at 3pm. We apologize for any inconvenience and we thank you for your cooperation. 


Copyright © Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery, LLC, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
450 Groce Road, Ronda, NC 28670

Want to change how you receive these emails?
 
Time Posted: Sep 16, 2019 at 9:25 AM
Raffaldini Vineyards
 
August 29, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

Raffaldini September Newsletter

 
Harvest Time is Here! 
 

Harvest 2019 is officially under way! So far this year we've picked 10 tons for our 2019 Auguri. This week more than 3.5 tons of Sangiovese were picked and are currently in our Fruttaio getting dehydrated with another ten tons of Sangiovese coming in before the long weekend. Stop in this week to see us in action! Learn more about Appassimento.
 

 
14th Annual Festa Italiana
Saturday, September 21 | 11am-5pm

 

One of the largest Italian celebrations in the Southeast features vendors from across the region including food, art, music, crafts, and of course, wine. You will also be able to purchase admission at the gate on the day of Festa. Ticket includes parking, admission to the festival, commemorative wine glass, and either a tasting of three select Raffaldini wines or a glass of wine.

Buy Now
 
Labor Day at Raffaldini Vineyards means relaxing with family and friends, drinking wine, eating some delicious food prepared by Porchetta Food Truck, and  listening to the warm sounds of Austin Dando, who is new to North Carolina, but not to its music and beauty. He will be serenading us with his acoustic guitar, accompanying vocals, and harmonica. Dando plays a number of covers as well as original music, and is sure to provide an inviting atmosphere. Austin's Bio.

 
Labor Day Weekend:  Open Normal Hours

Friday, August 30 - 11am-5pm

Saturday, August 31 - 11am-5pm
featuring Porchetta Italian Food Truck

Sunday, September 1 - 12pm-5pm
featuring Porchetta Italian Food Truck

Monday, September 2 - 11am - 5pm
featuring Porchetta Italian Food Truck and live music from Austin Dando. 
Raffaldini Farmer's Market
Sunday, September 15 | 12pm-5pm

 

Celebrate all the season has to offer as you meet and shop with local farmers on the grounds of Raffaldini Vineyards! In addition to magnificent vineyard and mountain views, you will have the opportunity to sample and purchase locally sourced produce, cheese and baked goods. You can also enjoy a picnic from our fully-stocked deli case. Stop by the tasting room, visit our website www.raffaldini.com, call 336.526.1078 or email us at info@raffaldini.com for more information. 

 
 
 
Food Truck | Music Dates

FOOD TRUCKS:

Porchetta Italian Food
Friday, August 31
Sunday, September 1
Monday, September 2

Almost Home Cooking
Saturday, September 7
Sunday, September 8

King of Jerk
Sunday, September 15

Gianno's Brick Oven Pizza
Saturday, September 14
Saturday, September 28
Sunday, September 29

Raffaldini Farmer's Market
Sunday, September 15


LIVE MUSIC:

Austin Dando
Monday, September 2


Brooke McBride
Sunday, September 8

 
Fall 2019 Wine Club Package
Click to learn more about the wine club package and complete your purchase below by choosing one of the options below.
 
Virtual Tastings Live!
Visit our YouTube Channel to see Jay Raffaldini tasting through our line up. New videos added weekly! Stay Tuned


Copyright © Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery, LLC, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
450 Groce Road, Ronda, NC 28670

Want to change how you receive these emails?
 
Time Posted: Aug 29, 2019 at 3:52 PM
Raffaldini Vineyards
 
August 29, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

Austin Dando Bio

Almost anywhere Austin Dando goes, he has an old guitar in the backseat. Its a way to bring old memories along with him, offering the chance to create new ones. Hailing from Pennsylvania, Dando is new to North Carolina, but not to it's sound or rugged landscape. Over the past many years, Dando has spent his days playing music among the hills and rivers of Central PA. All the while fly fishing for wild trout, and living his summers in the West. You can expect to hear warm acoustic songs, with accompanying vocals and harmonica. Dando plays a number of covers as well as original music, sure to provide an inviting atmosphere for everyone.

Time Posted: Aug 29, 2019 at 7:14 AM
Raffaldini Vineyards
 
August 19, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

Experience Raffaldini Vineyards at the Peak of Harvest Season

 
14th Annual Festa Italiana
Saturday, September 21 | 11am-5pm

 

One of the largest Italian celebrations in the Southeast features vendors from across the region including food, art, music, crafts, and of course, wine. Discounted, advance tickets and exclusive VIP experience available now. Ticket includes parking, admission to the festival, commemorative wine glass, and either a tasting of three select Raffaldini wines or a glass of wine.

Save $5 off General Admission
 
Beyond the Vines...Into the Community
Bookmarks Recommended by AASL

The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) formally commended Bookmarks' Book Build program for its support of the school librarian profession and the learners the profession serves. To be considered, programs must align with AASL’s "National School Library Standards" and the principles expressed in the association's mission and value statements.

Vote Raffaldini Best Winery in Wilkes! 


Show your love for Raffaldini Vineyards to the Wilkes Journal-Patriot! Vote Raffaldini as the best winery in Wilkes. Click the image to complete the survey. The Deadline for Ballots is August 24. Thank you! 











 
 
Fall 2019 Wine Club Package Now Available

Classico Club:

  • 6 bottles, 2 times a year
  • 5% off 6 bottles of more
  • 1 free tasting per visit (or glass of wine)
  • Invite to Wine Club Appreciation Day
  • Classico Club Membership Card
  • No substitutions

Superiore Club:

  • 12 bottles, 2 times a year
  • Raffaldini picks 6, Customer picks 6
  • 5% off 6 bottles, 10% off 12 bottles, 15% off 24 bottles
  • 2 free tastings per visit (or glass of wine)
  • Discounted tickets on select events
  • Invite to Wine Club Appreciation Day
  • Superiore Club Membership Card
Shipping Update:

We are pleased to partner with VinoShipper which allows us to ship to many more states. Here is the complete list. 

AK, AZ, CO, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
 
Food Truck | Music Dates

FOOD TRUCKS:

Street Gourmet
Saturday, August 24
Sunday, August 25
Sunday, September 15

Porchetta Italian Food
Saturday, August 31
Sunday, September 1

Almost Home Cooking
Saturday, September 7
Sunday, September 8

Gianno's Brick Oven Pizza
Saturday, September 14
Saturday, September 28
Sunday, September 29

Raffaldini Farmer's Market
Sunday, September 15


LIVE MUSIC:

Brooke McBride
Sunday, September 8

 
Meet the Artist
Handbagz and Gladragz - Handcrafted in High Point, NC
Saturday, August 24
 
A simple, solid commitment: to utilize top quality, new & upcycled hardware, fabrics, furs and exotic leathers when creating an original piece of “Functional Art." Great care is taken selecting colors, textures and accents, scouring the USA from one end to the other, repurposing leather from North Carolina or embellishing an accent acquired from an estate sale in California. Each piece is numbered and named to insure uniqueness and authenticity. The finished product exudes both respect for the environment and the love of art. *Stop by the tasting room Sat. August 24th and let Debby know you heard about her through this newsletter to receive a free gift!
 
 
Labor Day Weekend:  Open Normal Hours

Friday, August 30 - 11am-5pm
Saturday, August 31 - 11am-5pm
Sunday, September 1 - 12pm-5pm
Monday, September 2 - 11am - 5pm

Copyright © Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery, LLC, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
450 Groce Road, Ronda, NC 28670

Want to change how you receive these emails?
 
Time Posted: Aug 19, 2019 at 2:14 PM
Raffaldini Vineyards
 
August 15, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

2017 Montepulciano Riserva

Time Posted: Aug 15, 2019 at 7:29 PM
Raffaldini Vineyards
 
August 8, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

Jay Raffaldini Describes Girasole

Time Posted: Aug 8, 2019 at 6:41 AM
Raffaldini Vineyards
 
August 3, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

Jay Raffaldini Describes Auguri

Time Posted: Aug 3, 2019 at 7:52 AM
Raffaldini Vineyards
 
July 31, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

Raffaldini August Newsletter

 
 
 
From the Soil to the Glass
NC Wine Industry Partners with NC Colleges

 
Read about how the NC College System has developed a symbiotic relationship with NC Wine, helping the industry to grow and develop while equipping the next generation of NC students to enter the local wine industry workforce. 
 
 
Fall Wine Club Pickup Weekend
Friday, August 2 - Sunday August 4

Join us at Villa Raffaldini as we release the Fall Wine Club Package featuring the next red releases from the fabled 2017 vintage, Montepulciano Riserva and Il Falco. Also, the wine club package includes our delicious new rosé and the 2018 vintage of our traditional-method sparkling, Auguri. Join owner Jay Raffaldini on site from 12pm-4pm on Saturday, August 3rd as he takes you on a personal journey through the new wines. 

The new wines will be available for tasting and purchase starting on Friday, August 2. On Saturday and Sunday, wine club members can enjoy a sample of the new wines with a special food pairing from Chef Corey Hooks. Also, 225 Street Food will be on site serving up delicious fusion cuisine for sale to pair with your favorite wine.

Click to learn more about the wine club package and complete your purchase below by choosing one of the options below.
 

Classico Club:

  • 6 bottles, 2 times a year
  • 5% off 6 bottles of more
  • 1 free tasting per visit (or glass of wine)
  • Invite to Wine Club Appreciation Day
  • Classico Club Membership Card
  • No substitutions

Superiore Club:

  • 12 bottles, 2 times a year
  • Raffaldini picks 6, Customer picks 6
  • 5% off 6 bottles, 10% off 12 bottles, 15% off 24 bottles
  • 2 free tastings per visit (or glass of wine)
  • Discounted tickets on select events
  • Invite to Wine Club Appreciation Day
  • Superiore Club Membership Card
 
 
 
Shipping Update:

We are pleased to partner with VinoShipper which allows us to ship to many more states. Here is the complete list. 

AK, AZ, CO, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MO, NC, ND, NE, NH, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Vine to Wine: Immersive Harvest Experience
Friday, September 6

 

An experience of a lifetime. 

Join Jay Raffaldini and the rest of our winemaking team for a day to remember as you work side by side with our winemaking team to create the 2019 vintage. 
This is your chance to learn about the grape varietals, harvesting and the wine-making process at Raffaldini Vineyards. 

You will also have a taste analysis of wines that are currently in production and enjoy an exclusive harvest dinner featuring our award-winning wines paired with traditional Italian fare. This event will be led by the Owner Jay Raffaldini, Winemaker, and Vineyard Manager give you complete access to the behind the scenes process of wine production. Receive complete, inside access to our production and enjoy three lovely meals, wine pairings, and activities throughout the day. 


 

Shop Now
14th Annual Festa Italiana
Saturday, September 21 | 11am-5pm

 

One of the largest Italian celebrations in the Southeast features vendors from across the region including food, art, music, crafts, and of course, wine. Discounted, advance tickets and exclusive VIP experience available now. Ticket includes parking, admission to the festival, commemorative wine glass, and either a tasting of three select Raffaldini wines or a glass of wine.

Save $5 off General Admission
 
It is with a full heart we announce that, after twelve years of dedicated service at Raffaldini Vineyards, Thomas is leaving La Famiglia Raffaldini. Please come by and bid him farewell on his last day, Saturday August 3rd.

No words can possibly thank Thomas for all his contributions. Thomas started as a tasting room associate in 2007 and held too many positions to list as he was willing to do whatever the company needed to grow.  More importantly Thomas is a dear friend to all of us and for that we are most thankful.  Fortunately, Thomas is not going very far and has taken a position as the Tourism Director for the town of Wilkesboro and Wilkes County driving tourism and growth. Raffaldini looks forward to working closely with Thomas in his new position. 


We also welcome Brandy Watson to the role of Tasting Room Manager. Brandy has already made a big impact in her three years with us. If you haven't had the privilege of interacting with Brandy, please get to know her.
 
 
 

Copyright © Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery, LLC, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:
450 Groce Road, Ronda, NC 28670

Want to change how you receive these emails?
 
Time Posted: Jul 31, 2019 at 10:41 AM
Raffaldini Vineyards
 
July 26, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

LetterHead

Time Posted: Jul 26, 2019 at 12:02 PM
Raffaldini Vineyards
 
July 24, 2019 | Raffaldini Vineyards

From the Soil to the Glass

https://www.northcarolina.edu/news/2019/07/Soil-Glass
 

24Jul

FROM THE SOIL TO THE GLASS

By Communications

UNC SYSTEM GIVES NC WINE INDUSTRY ITS LEGS

Imagine yourself relaxing on a terrace. Beyond the perimeter of shade, the midday sun beats down on acres upon acres of trained grapevines. A sommelier hands you a glass of Montepulciano to sample. You savor the bouquet and gently swirl the glass, watching the wine’s legs cascade down the sides of the glass. Crickets chirp the afternoon away. A fountain gurgles in the background. Gazing out into the distance, your eyes trace the narrow ribbon of asphalt that winds lazily between the rolling hills, leading from this vineyard to the next, and the next, and the next.

You could be in Tuscany … but you don’t have to be. This pastoral setting could just as easily sit far closer to home, in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley, the state’s first federally approved American Viticulture Area. More than three dozen wineries dot the landscape in Surry, Yadkin, Wilkes, Davie, Davidson, Forsyth, and Stokes counties.

North Carolina wine has certainly matured, and it is helping to revitalize rural economies once dominated by tobacco. With nearly 200 licensed wineries and 2,300 grape-bearing acres, the state now ranks seventh in the United States in terms of wine and grape production. A 2016 economic impact study estimated that North Carolina’s wine and wine grape industry generated $375 million in wages and $89 million in state taxes.

In various ways, UNC System institutions have helped to grow this increasingly important segment of the state’s economy. The research and talent coming from constituent institutions contributes to every stage of wine production and sales, helping growers, vintners, marketers, and hospitality workers uncork the full potential of the state’s grape yield.


Roses often appear at the end of vineyard rows. If the blooms fizzle, that’s a sign that blight or pests might soon threaten the grapes.

NORTH CAROLINA’S WINES, FROM MANTEO TO MURPHY

When Erskine Bowles was president of the UNC System, he pushed each institution to break down the silos dividing the universities and local industries. Although UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business and Economics had always prided itself on being community oriented, the school’s Executive in Residence Sam Troy took on the responsibility of brainstorming new ideas for how faculty and students could engage local industries within the university’s service area.

As it would happen, on a whim, Troy decided to attend a wine release celebration hosted by Raffaldini Winery in Wilkes County. Troy was blown away by the quality of the product, by the passion of the staff, and by the size of the attendance for the event. He realized two things at that moment: that North Carolina could produce high quality wine and that there was a real interest cultivating this industry in the state. He had a hunch that “maybe, in the years ahead, NC really was really going to become a player in the international wine industry.”

Two weeks later, when the dean asked Troy where UNCG should be concentrating its energies to help support local industry, Troy identified two conventional choices (aviation and high-tech textiles) and a wild card: wine. At the time, well over half the vineyards in the state were within the 120-mile radius of the university’s service area. Not only would the wineries benefit from the school’s input, but students would have easy access to immersive learning experiences and professional opportunities. The dean embraced Troy’s idea, and thus began a rigorous partnership between UNCG and North Carolina winemakers that has thrived for 13 years.

UNCG’s work reflects the scale of North Carolina’s wine industry and its vast impact on the state’s economy. The industry encompasses far more than the business of growing grapes. It also depends upon and contributes to a number of secondary and tertiary industries, including glassware, design (to make labels, for example), and hospitality and tourism. One glance at the university’s impressive tally of engagement efforts makes it obvious that faculty and students are having an impact across the spectrum of these business interests.

To date, the Bryan School has completed 19 industry studies and projects, including a comprehensive five-year industry strategic plan, marketing analyses, a benchmark study measuring the effectiveness of tourism signage, a smart business practices resource, and an online training program for tasting room managers. They have also actively participated in the North Carolina Fine Wines Competition.

This work isn’t limited to the Yadkin Valley region. Winemaking is a statewide endeavor. Today there are five American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the state, and the Bryan School team works with wineries from Murphy to Manteo.

“Our team has visited roughly 130 different wineries across the state,” Dr. Erick Byrd, director of the Bryan School’s Center for Industry Research and Engagement, explained. “Many of these are located on old tobacco farms in very remote, rural locations, so we can see firsthand how this industry has the potential to make significant contributions to North Carolina’s economy.”

Making wine requires a significant commitment of time and resources. By some estimates, a winery needs money to stay liquid for ten years before it begins to make a profit. The research coming out of the Bryan School has provided critical support to an industry that requires long-term vision.

“The Bryan School is our secret weapon, and they have been a huge asset in providing us with solid, unbiased information that allows us to identify problems and make long-term, sound decisions,” said Larry Cagle, owner of WoodMill winery in Vale.

This work doesn’t just benefit the industry. It provides invaluable learning and research opportunities for UNCG students and faculty as well. Undergraduate hospitality and tourism students have completed capstone projects working with wineries in Surry County. When the university co-sponsors the North Carolina Fine Wines competition, through the leadership of Tiffany Reynolds, lecturer in the Department of Entrepreneurship, Hospitality, and Tourism, students work the venue and learn what it takes to run the back of the house. Faculty and graduate students collaborate on rigorous, multidisciplinary research in geography, marketing, hospitality, supply chain management, and information systems.

"Our partnership with UNCG and the Bryan School has been very rewarding for everyone involved,” said Dan McLaughlin, founding board member of the North Carolina Fine Wines Society and co-owner of CLINNEAM LLC, a company that provides research, technology, and marketing support for the beverage industry. “The students who work the Fine Wines Competition get real world experience organizing a world class event and an opportunity to network with our Advanced Level III Sommeliers. At the same time, our competition benefits from the Bryan School’s oversight and validation of the scoring process. Their work ensures the transparency of our competition to the industry."

Notably, three UNCG MBA graduate students, working under the guidance of Sam Troy and Dr. Bonnie Canziani, assistant professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship, Hospitality, and Tourism, won the 2014 Small Business Institute’s Project of the Year Award for the business plan they completed for Raffaldini Winery as part of their capstone project. Owner Jay Raffaldini, who has sponsored several of the Bryan School’s project initiatives, cites this award as tangible evidence of the quality of the talent that flows into the industry from the UNC System.

“I’ve sat through a lot of presentations from students in top business schools—Harvard, Yale, Wharton,” he said. “The Bryan School students’ presentation of their business plan stood up against anything I’d seen before. My hunch was validated when they won a national award.”

Dr. Erick Byrd offered an even more sweeping proclamation of the long-term value of the university’s collaborative relationship with the industry.

“Our work leads to victories on many fronts. Students win--they get experience and they get jobs. The business school and UNCG win, because this work enhances our national reputation. Faculty win, because these partnerships open doors to so many fruitful research opportunities. And local industry wins, because we supply high quality talent and research,” he said proudly.


Inspecting the vines at the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Horticultural Crops Research Station in Castle Hayne, where NC State scientists conduct some of their viticulture research.

FROM THE GROUND UP: NC STATE AND VITICULTURE

UNCG’s work concentrates largely on the marketing and consumer end of the industry. But the business of a vineyard begins long before the product gets bottled and tourists arrive at the tasting room. Research and extension initiatives coming out of North Carolina State University’s Department of Horticultural Science get the industry growing from the ground up.

Dr. Mark Hoffmann is NC State’s small fruits extension specialist. Much of his work focuses on supporting the state’s viticulture—the science of growing grapes used in wine.

“The thing that makes North Carolina viticulture so fascinating is the diversity of grapes grown here,” Hoffmann explained. “North Carolina is probably the most diverse state in terms of grape varieties. California might be more famous for its wine, but we actually grow more types of grapes.”

Most North Carolinians are readily familiar with the muscadines that are indigenous (and relatively unique) to the Southeast, which are used in the sweeter wines produced in the eastern part of the state. While many might associate North Carolina more with beer than with wine these days, NC is actually one of the few states with a long-standing tradition of growing grapes for wine. Before prohibition, North Carolina was home to more wineries than any other state, thanks to the abundance of this hardy, native fruit.

Since the 1980s, however, more and more growers have been steadily experimenting with non-native grape varieties of the sort traditionally used to make Italian and French wines. This has introduced remarkable complexity to North Carolina’s winemaking tradition. This variety ensures that consumers today, no matter their taste preferences, will have no trouble finding a North Carolina wine that pleases the palate.

“In most cases, wine-making regions are known for a particular grape. Napa is known for the cabernet, Sonoma for the zinfandel, Virginia for the viognier. North Carolina doesn’t have that singular grape that defines what we do,” said Jay Raffaldini. “Montepulciano and vermentinos do well here, but I have been fascinated watching every vineyard try to figure out what makes them unique. Of course, what grows well in the mountains is not going to grow well in the coast. From a customer standpoint, this is really interesting. You go to Napa, and, after two stops, you’re weary of cabernets. But the diversity here means that every stop in North Carolina is different.”

Much of NC State’s extension efforts have been dedicated to supporting this diversity. In addition to producing, compiling, and sharing the latest research that will help increase yields, Hoffmann and his team have organized forums and meetings that bring together muscadine, bunch grape, and table grape growers. This has nurtured a spirit of collaboration across the state, which Hoffmann sees as vital to the industry’s growth.

NC State also plays a leadership role in distributing scholarly expertise across the state. The university is developing extension teams specifically so that agents are better prepared to help vineyards grow capacity. The university has also helped community colleges develop their own viticulture and enology programs. One notable example is NC State’s collaboration with Surry Community College, which now houses the Shelton-Badgett NC Center for Viticulture and Enology and a research vineyard, which NC State uses for field trials.

“Our goal is to make North Carolina a recognized wine-growing region, and that’s not possible if you don’t have unity,” Hoffmann said. “Viticulture is challenging, and it’s more expensive to grow grapes here than it is in dryer climates, but the people are very engaged. We have a community that’s willing to work together, which is exciting and especially important, given the diversity of species that are being grown.”


Fermentation vats at a North Carolina winery.


Getting closer and closer to the glass: NC wine nearing the end of the production process.

THE KICK IN THE BOTTLE: APPALACHIAN AND ENOLOGY

Viticulture is the science of growing the grape; enology is the science of what comes next. When it comes to transforming fruit into something more sublime, North Carolina vintners turn to Appalachian State University’s A.R. Smith Department of Chemistry and Fermentation Sciences for support.

The department’s state of the art facilities directly serve local winemakers in two ways. Its Enology Services Lab—established in 2009 from a U.S. Small Business Administration grant and later expanded with the help of a Golden Leaf grant—offers grape and wine analysis. These services provide winemakers across the state with the product information they need to compile on a seasonal basis, including details regarding residual sugars, acidity, and alcohol content.

At the same time, the university’s Pilot Plant provides a space for students and entrepreneurs to experiment with production. Smaller craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries often don’t have the capacity to try out new recipes or processes. At the Pilot Plant, they can test innovations before investing in scaled up production.

In addition to its facilities, the university also supplies critical talent to the industry through its fermentation sciences degree options. Homebrewing and winemaking have soared in popularity as amateur hobbies, but Dr. Brett Taubman, director of Appalachian’s Fermentation Sciences Program, emphasizes that Appalachian’s students graduate from the program with a theoretical and experiential underpinning they simply wouldn’t get through self-taught trial and error.

“This isn’t a four year degree in brewing. It’s a very rigorous science degree,” he explained. “Fermentation is a highly technical craft that synthesizes biology, chemistry, math, science, and engineering. Our students don’t even get into fermentation until they’ve had two years of foundational chemistry and biology. The industry is incredibly competitive, and what they want are students who’ve acquired the theoretical and hands-on knowledge that a four-year degree can provide.”

Because Appalachian’s graduates can draw from theoretical comprehension rather than rote memorization, they are well-prepared to fix any number of problems that can arise during fermentation. If the fermentation gets “stuck” or if the flavor seems off, they can pinpoint where in the process things went haywire. Furthermore, alcohol production is an inherently dangerous industry, involving compressed gasses and dangerous chemicals. Because Appalachian’s graduates come to winemaking from a scientific perspective, they understand the safety issues and the critical control points. In short, not only can Mountaineers help ensure the quality of the wine, they can also help prevent injuries on the job.

“The industry understands the value of the talent coming out of Appalachian’s fermentation sciences program. We pretty much have a 100% employment rate following graduation,” explained Taubman. “What we contend with is the industry contacting us, looking for more quality talent. We don’t have enough graduates to fill those positions. This is, of course, a great benefit to our students, because they can pick and choose where they want to go. It’s not an easy degree to get through, but those that do really benefit in the end.”

This demand for talent doesn’t just benefits the students. It also reflects the growth of North Carolina’s wine industry and the value of the UNC System’s support for a commercial endeavor that impacts every region in the state.


Dr. Erick Byrd, Sam Troy, and Dr. Bonnie Canziani, from UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School.

MAKING AN IMPACT

In the summer of 2013, The Bryan School of Business and Economics collaborated with the NC Wine and Grape Council to create a five-year strategic plan for the state’s wine and grape industry.

When the plan was implemented in 2014, North Carolina had 125 licensed wineries. Today, North Carolina has nearly 200. In 2009, the annual economic impact of the state’s wine and grape industry was $1.28 billion, supporting 7,600 North Carolina jobs. As of 2019, that economic impact has grown to $1.97 billion, supporting just over 10,000 North Carolina jobs. Between 2013 and 2016, the retail value of North Carolina wine sold grew by 43 percent; wages paid grew by 44 percent; and wine-related tourism expenditures grew by 24 percent.

Wine has once again taken root in North Carolina, and UNC System institutions will continue their work to ensure that the growth continues. To this point, The Bryan School and the NC Wine and Grape Council are about the release the status report following the conclusion of the first strategic plan, as well as a follow up five-year strategic plan.

The benefits of the UNC System’s efforts will certainly have legs, strengthening wine-related agriculture and hospitality and tourism industries across the state.

“UNCG is making an impact on the Piedmont/Triad area and beyond. The wine industry is throughout the state, not just in one pocket,” said Sam Troy. “I’m proud of the fact that, over 12 years, our work has served as a clear example of how the university can help an industry, and how industry can help the university. This brings tremendous value to our students, to the community, and to all of North Carolina.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

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Time Posted: Jul 24, 2019 at 2:00 PM

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