Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Windsor Run Cellars: North Carolina Winery Visit

This just might be the most diverse winery in North Carolina. With a lineup that ranges from Merlot to “Killer Bees,” Windsor Run Cellars is a popular stop in North Carolina wine country.

Windsor Run's Guilty red blendExpanding The Wine Spectrum

We visited five wineries in North Carolina’s Swan Creek AVA during a recent trip. Without question, Windsor Run Cellars had the most wide-ranging lineup.

It’s in a ideal location, being next to “sister” winery Shadow Spring Vineyard. It’s also a stone’s throw from the popular Shiloh General Store, an Amish store with a great deli, interesting wares, and an accommodating porch on which to enjoy your lunch.

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Our palate gravitates to dry red and crisp white wines – but that doesn’t mean everyone follows suit. At Windsor Run Cellars, we were able to find some nice dry wine, something for which Swan Creek is known, but the winery offers so much more including mead, fortified wines and distilled spirits. They even offer a wine blended with pineapple, mango and coconut.

This “run” in the beautifully crafted wood tasting room began with the 2016 Swan Creek Pinot Grigio. It is Windsor Run’s driest white and offers fresh tastes of green apple. After cleansing the road dust from our palates, we were ready to move on to a trio of reds.

We sampled the 2011 Merlot, Guilty and the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Our favorite was Guilty, a blend of 88% Chambourcin and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s not enough Chambourcin in the world, at least in our opinion. Chambourcin is a French-American hybrid grape that can make excellent quality wine and is more resistant to the ups and downs of North Carolina weather. Guilty is fruit forward with blackberry and cherry notes. It retails for $20.

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The Merlot is a well rounded wine and an enjoyable sipper at $16. The 2014 Cab gets barrel aging, but the body of the wine was still too light for our taste.

Windsor Run Cellars MontageWe then started to climb the sweetness scale! The next sip was the 2016 Traminette. I’m a fan of the grape, but my wife tends to avoid wines with floral taste. It was a semi-dry glass of fruit goodness, just the thing for the coming warm weather.

Pineapple Wine And Killer Bees

Tasting options at Windsor Run are $7 for seven wines or a full tasting of seven wines, three fortified wines and two souvenir glasses for $12. Since we still had a couple winery visits to make, we opted for the $7 special. We leapfrogged over several interestingly named wines (Summer Breeze, Windsorberry, Cherry Smash and Island Holiday) to sample the Apple Mead.

We’d recommend the Apple Mead for a frosty autumn day or the cold of winter. Mead is made from honey and in this case the honey was fermented with apple cider, natural cinnamon and cloves. Enjoy this heated in a mug for a great blend of fruit, honey and spice.

I mentioned the diversity of Windsor Run’s lineup. It offers a nice selection of sweet wines to go with the dry, including Island Holiday, which is Cab Franc blended with pineapple, mango and coconut! There is also Sangria, brandy, Midnight Run (a Port-style wine), three meads and two wine cocktails.

Windsor Run Cellars also operates the WRC Distillery, which was licensed in 2007. The name has changed over the years, but it remains North Carolina’s first and oldest winery owned and partnered distillery. The distillery offers three artisan spirits: White Widow, Killer Bee and Shadow Hawk. Killer Bee is created by distilling mead made from genuine Africanized “killer bee” honey. Killer Bee is an 80 proof straight sipping spirit with pleasant honey characteristics.

On your next “run” to North Carolina wine country, be sure to visit Windsor Run Cellars. You’re sure to find a bottle that suits your taste.

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