RayLen In The News

Carolina on the Vine - Crushin' The Blues


This past weekend, my husband, some of our friends and I visited RayLen Vineyards & Winery to attend their Crushin’ the Blues Festival. Blending the company of great friends, beautiful scenery, good music and fantastic wine is always a winning combination.

RayLen knows how to throw a party. Overall, the event was well organized and had a great turnout. Attendees set-up their chairs and umbrellas on the lawn between the tasting room and the pavilion. Three blues bands played throughout the day and catered BBQ was available for purchase. The vibe was upbeat, casual and fun as people danced, some even outside in the rain.

Included in our ticket purchase was a glass of our choice; since it was such a large event, they weren’t doing tastings. I selected the Syrah Rose. I LOVE Rose in the summer and this one didn’t disappoint – crisp and refreshing with notes of red berries. Usually, I pair Rose with BBQ chicken or pork.

After everyone finished their initial glass, we drank several bottles of the Category 5. I know why this Bordeaux blend is a favorite. This full-bodied red has dark fruit upfront and is complemented nicely by hints of vanilla.

As the event drew to a close, in my mind I was planning my next visit...

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RayLen Mentioned in Mom Favorites blog

moms favoritesRayLen Vineyards received praise from the editor of MomFavorites.com -
for friendliness of the establishment and for our delicious wines. 

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Arturo Spreads the Tar Heel Wine Gospel

wine_wednesdayNow a "dean" of North Carolina wine making, Steve Shepard has been plying his trade in-state since 1989. I well recall him carting around samples back then, in order to find placement in retail shops such as A Southern Season, where I worked as the wine manager. Steve made some terrific wines at Westbend Vineyards, including a deft Chambourcin and a brisk Seyval Blanc. Having moved down the road to RayLen Vineyards & Winery in 2000, Steve's work continues to excell as he continually zeros in on what works best in the Yadkin soil. (He AND the vines are aging gracefully!)

RayLen uses solar panels to cut their energy costs by 25%, and Steve's latest 2 year stint as president of The North Carolina Wine Grower's Association keeps him and RayLen at the cutting edge. Steve has always crackled with energy and conviction, and that shows no signs of diminution as he continues to convince us that our state can make wines comparable to the world's foremost regions. I just tasted today's wine (a new release) a few days ago, and a more characterful summertime refresher would be hard to find.

2011 Rosé of Cabernet Franc, RayLen Vineyards and Winery, North Carolina $12.99 srp

Beautiful pink salmon color with mandarine highlights. Using 100% Yadkin Valley fruit, this has a dewy spring garden nose that flares the sinuses; the blackberry and cranberry notes encourage immediate sipping. ( There's something about the Cabernet Franc bouquet when emanating from the Yadkin Valley it's as if it has found the perfect home. So soft, luxurious and fully expressive, both in its rosé and red versions, that you find yourself smiling!) Excellent body, grace and balance on this wine's fresh berry palate. A joyful winner that puts an exclamation point on this grape's potential and RayLen's imaginative take on it. Drink now-2014.

From the Durham Magazine Blog

Glimpses from a Lost Colony

the Biltmore

North Carolina's first commercial winery was established in 1835 by Mr. Sidney Weller, in the community of Brinkleyville, in Halifax County.

But that wasn't the beginning.

In 1584, Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe, exploring on behalf of Sir Walter Raleigh, came upon a land they described as "...so full of grapes...that I thinke in all the world the like abundance is not to be found." Before them, in 1524, Spanish conquistador Giovanni de Verrazzano saw the coast of North Carolina and described "many vines growing naturally...[which] would doubtless yield excellent wine..."

And it did.

Evidence suggests that before the Europeans sailed the ocean blue, native populations – specifically, the Croatoans – were already making wine from North Carolina's native grapes. The "Mother Vine" – an immense, 32-feet-wide by 120-feet-long Scuppernong plant – is thought to be the direct descendant of this ancient viticulture. At 400 years old, she is the oldest cultivated grape vine in the country (some say the world), and many vineyards across the United States have her to thank for their creation.

Although those first winemakers, and the colonists with them, mysteriously vanished in the late 1580s, nearly three hundred years later, in the 1850s, almost twenty-five wineries were registered in the state. Mr. Weller's little vineyard, (by then renamed Medoc Vineyards), actually led the country in wine production. The Civil War wiped out the industry in the 1860s, but by the end of the century, North Carolina's wine industry was thriving again, and the state's wines even won medals at the Paris Exhibition of 1900.

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