By Paul T. Choate
The two competitions were the Mid-Atlantic Southeastern 2012 Wine Competition at the Dixie Classic Fair on Sept. 28 to Oct. 7 and the North Carolina State Fair on Oct. 3-4. Owner Alison Garrett said these were the first two wine competitions 1861 Farmhouse had ever entered their wines in and said of the success that it is “a pretty exciting time for us.”
At the Mid-Atlantic Southeastern 2012 Wine Competition, the winery claimed gold medals for both their flagship wine, called “The House,” as well as their wine called “Boulder Shadow.” They also picked up silver medals for “River Run,” “Victoria’s Vale” and “Red Porch.”
Then, in only their second submissions to competition ever, 1861 Farmhouse picked up double gold and Best in Category – Vinifera for “The House” and double gold for “Victoria’s Vale.” Claiming silver medals were “River Run” and “Red Porch.”
Double gold medals are awarded to wines that have already medaled with a gold, when the judges go back and look at all the gold medal winners and come to a consensus of which one is the best in a given category.
“It was validation because we have felt we were making good wine … and the response from the tasting room has been so favorable the entire time and in particular for the last six months or so,” Garrett said. “It was great validation. It was very encouraging that we’re doing some good things and I think it’s a sign of things to come.”
Garrett said she is particularly proud of “The House” and said they worked hard to get that wine perfect.
“When we name a wine ‘The House’ we really try to have a really special white wine that we name after this special white house,” she said.
“The House” is what is considered an “off-dry” wine, being that it is not quite a dry or a sweet. 1861 Farmhouse does not produce sweet wines, but Garrett said she felt just a slight bit of added sugar was needed to perfect their flagship wine. Apparently, the judges agreed at the two competitions.
Speaking in regards to all their wines, Garrett explained that 1861 Farmhouse is not limited by having only their own grapes. The winery purchases grapes or juices from mostly in-state wineries that have had the best harvests. She noted that when they first started they tried growing their own grapes, but said due to being on a north-facing property the harvest was not ideal.
“There are so many factors that play into having a good harvest and if you are a winery who is only using your own grapes it is very challenging to have every single one of your varietals, every single harvest, to be outstanding,” Garrett said. She added that most of their grapes come from vineyards in the Yadkin Valley and the goal is to keep it as local as possible. She is proud to say that 1861 Farmhouse has only had to go out of state “a bit.”
Still being new to the winemaking process, Garrett said they are continuing to develop their products and as time goes on they plan on entering more wine competitions.
“I think [winemaking is] probably one of the most fun businesses,” she said.
The 1861 Farmhouse Restaurant and Winery is located in a 151-year-old, fully restored Victorian Farmhouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, in the heart of Valle Crucis. The restaurant is open daily for lunch, and serves elegant dinners Thursday through Saturday. The 1861 Winery is located in the property’s barn, which is also listed on the National Registry.
For more information, visit 1861Farmhouse.com or call 828-963-6301.