North Carolina Grape Varieties
Today, bunch grapes, including Vitis vinifera, French-American hybrids and Labrusca-type grapes, are grown throughout the central and mountain regions of North Carolina. Muscadines are grown in the coastal plain where moderate winter temperatures prevail. For more on the production regions, see the Crop Profile for Grapes in North Carolina.
Wines may be made from 100% or predominantly a single variety of grape, or wines may be made from a blend of several grape varieties. Becoming familiar with grape varieties is a vital step in knowing your wines. Many wines, especially in the United States, have the name of the producer (the winery) on the bottle, and the wine is named by the grape variety used.
This is a conservative list of grape varieties that are grown or might be considered for growing in North Carolina. For more about grape varieties, see Wine and Juice Grape Varieties for Cool Climates and the California Grape Vine Nursery Rootstock Chart.
Wines produced from grapes of this traditional European species are reminiscent of those harvested in Europe and California. New agricultural developments have enabled viticulturalists to successfully cultivate these grapes in North Carolina. Cultivars include Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier and Cabernet Franc.
These are crosses between various Vitis vinifera and native American species. Developed in France in the late 1800s, these grapes combine the disease resistance and winter hardiness of American species with the classic flavors of the Vinifera, or European, species. Cultivars include Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, and Villard Noir.
Muscadines, known locally as scuppernongs, are the native grapes of North Carolina. Muscadines are commonly consumed fresh or made into wines and jellies. Wines of this grape are rich, full-flavored, and very fruity. Popular cultivars include Carlos, Magnolia, Sterling, Nesbitt and Noble. For information on home grape growing, see Muscadine Grapes in the Home Garden.
Wines produced from grapes of this species, considered the American “bunch” grapes, offer intense, fruity flavors which display the true taste of their labrusca heritage. Cultivars include Catawba, Concord, Delaware and Niagara. For information on home grape growing, see Bunch Grapes in the Home Garden.
Wines vinted from fruits other than grapes are opening new opportunities through the efforts of North Carolina vintners. These exciting new wines are pleasing to the palate and delectably enchanting. Fruit varieties include apple, blueberry, blackberry, peach, plum, strawberry and cherry.