Grandfather Vineyard was founded in 2003 when Steve and Sally Tatum, in search of a hobby, planted a small block of wine grapes for some home winemaking. After a few years they realized the High Country of North Carolina had a similar climate as many of the famous grape growing regions around the world. In 2005 Steve and Sally tripled the size of the vineyard. His hobby then became more than just a hobby. After years of hard work, they opened their doors in May of 2011. Grandfather Vineyard is a terraced mountain-side vineyard located at the base of Grandfather Mountain right on the Watauga River. At the bottom of the vineyard is the tasting room and winery. They’re open Monday through Saturday Noon to 6:00 p.m. and on Sundays from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Grandfather Vineyard & Winery Presses Last Ton of Wine for Season, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Before Cold Snap
by Jesse Wood
Oct. 21, 2013. Just before the cold snap, Grandfather Vineyard and Winery pressed out its last ton of wine for the season, a Cabernet Sauvignon.
“One major difference between the wine industry and the beer industry is that in the winery, we have one harvest a year where we have to make all the wine that we will have for the entire year. We have about a three-month period during the year when we are crushing, pressing, and fermenting all the wines. It’s long hours during these fall months, but it only comes once a year,” Dylan Tatum said, adding that breweries can brew a batch of beer anytime during the year; all they have to do is buy their raw material.
“Believe it or not, I look forward to this time of year. Tis’ the season,” Dylan added as he packed the press full with his hands stained purple from the grapes.
Unlike most white wines, red wine is fermented with the juice still in contact with the grape skins.
“When making red wine, we always ferment our red grapes on the skins because it extracts color and flavor out of the grape. That’s where the red wine gets its color is in the skin,” Dylan Tatum said.
Dylan added that one major factor he uses to determine when to press our dry red wines is the sugar content of the wine/grapes.
“I generally wait until there is no sugar left in the wine for the yeast to metabolize and convert into alcohol. At that point the wine is essentially dry. Then, we press them out and pump the wine into a tank where they will sit and allow all the solids to settle to the bottom. Once they have settled, we will rack the wine off the solids into a barrel where the will sit and barrel age for at least a year,” Dylan said.
He added that most of their grapes around the High Country have been harvested. However, the Vidal Blanc grapes that are used for the ice wines will stay on the vine until it gets cold enough to harvest (around the mid-teens).
Naturally frozen on the vine at its estate-grown vineyard, Grandfather Vineyard’s Ice Wine is extremely popular. In 2011, the Foscoe vineyard won a gold medal for its Ice Wine at the N.C. State Fair.
For more information about Grandfather Vineyard and Winery, click here or call 828-963-2400.