Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Midnight Magdalena Vineyards: Yadkin Valley Winery Visit

Swan Creek is a federally designated wine region in North Carolina’s wine country. There are seven vineyards all within a five-mile radius.

Almost Missing Midnight

We almost missed out on our visit to Midnight Magdalena Vineyards. We had decided on a quick jaunt from the Raleigh area to Yadkin Valley, North Carolina’s wine county.

Based on our hotel’s location, we decided to focus on the Swan Creek AVA. Midnight Magdalena appeared to be out of our way, but their website touted their dry wines, so off we went.

We’re glad we didn’t miss out on this new winery. There are seven great wineries in the Swan Creek AVA. As it happens, all the wineries also fall within the larger Yadkin Valley AVA (but a bit of the Swan Creek AVA is outside the Yadkin Valley AVA).

Raising Authentic Wines

Midnight Magdalena is owned by Jim and Tauny Zimmer. They bought the 40-acre farm in Yadkin County in 2010 and planted the first six acres of vines in 2013. The tasting room, or should I say tasting house, was opened in 2016.

Swan Creek bills itself as the premier dry wine region of North Carolina. That’s certainly the focus at Midnight Magdalena, where 1,300 cases are produced annually. It’s also a great match for our palates.

The tasting room is designed to make you feel you are visiting a peaceful house in the countryside. That’s the feeling Green Dragon and I had as we drove up the driveway. There is a concrete patio and a large deck which provides outstanding views looking toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. Inside the tasting room is beautiful, bright and airy.

Jim was the host for our tasting and emphasized that the winery is focused on crafting dry wines that bring out the best varietal characteristics of their grapes. There are 2,700 more vines on order and due to be planted next month. There are some of our favorite grapes among the newcomers including Zweigelt and Tempranillo.

A Taste Of Swan Creek

There is only one blend in the Midnight Magdalena lineup. The rest are 100% of one grape variety. We started our liquid tour with a pair of whites as we sampled the 2016 vintage Dry Riesling and Traminette.

We found the Riesling to be refreshing and tasty. The acidity is moderate. It’s a nice pick for seafood. It retails for $19. Traminette is a cross between Gewürztraminer and a French American hybrid grape. Like Gewürztraminer, the Traminette has a floral aroma and a bit of spiciness.

We next tasted a couple of rosé wines with Italian grapes sourced nearby. Midnight Magdalena is neighbor to Raffaldini Vineyards, which specializes in Italian grape varieties. The first was the 2015 Half Moon Rosé, which is done in the Provence style and is made with Montepulciano. This is a dry rosé that had a nice tickle of bubbles when poured. A lovely salmon color, it has great notes of strawberry is a great food-pairing wine.

The  2016 Magdalena Rosé is made with Sangiovese and is light copper in color. There is a bit of acidity and aroma notes of rose petals. Both rosé sell for $18.

Thirsty For Reds

The first harvest brought great results for the 2015 Merlot. The tannins are soft and round. This satisfying red has a medium body and a deep garnet color. It has a wonderful presence from the first sip to the lingering finish. The wine is aged in neutral French oak barrels.

It retails for $24 and we purchased a bottle. (It never made it home as we drank it that night in the hotel hot tub.) Merlot is done very well in Yadkin Valley, and so this bottle is recommended.

Our finale was Tapestry No. 1029. This is the only blend produced by Midnight Magdalena. You may be familiar with the more famous Tapestry blend from California – as a result, “1029” was added to the wine name. The winery was purchased on October 29.

Tapestry 1029 is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. We enjoyed it with double dark chocolate crisps with sea salt from Carronni’s Handcrafted Creations – a delicious exclamation point on our visit. Tapestry 1029 is Midnight Magdalena’s flagship wine and retails for $26.

Midnight Magdalena is a recommended stop on your next trip to North Carolina wine country. The wines are well crafted, the scenery beautiful and the hospitality welcoming. Just remember, the winery isn’t actually open at midnight!

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