Surry Community College earned three medals for its 2012 Surry Cellars wines at the Mid-Atlantic South Wine Competition at the Dixie Classic Fair where 600 wines were submitted by winemakers from throughout the Southeast.
The college won two gold medals for the Nativo Reserve Vintage 2012 and the Reserve Traminette Vintage 2012 and a silver medal for the Merlot Reserve Vintage 2012. The wines were developed using special processes that are currently being implemented at Surry.
“I am just ecstatic. It’s just a really nice way to start off a semester,” said David Bower, who is the Enology Instructor at SCC. “We spent a lot of time on those wines along with the rebranding process. It’s nice to get some recognition.”
SCC offers a degree, diploma and a certificate in Viticulture and Enology Technology. The students from the 2012 classes of Production Analysis and Wine Finishing & Packaging produced these award-winning wines under Bower’s instruction. They worked with Bower on the harvest, processed the grapes to finishing and bottling and then named the wines and created the labels and packaging. Those SCC students were Joseph Hobbs, George Butler, Tyler B. Smith, Lisa St. Clair and Dustin Whiten.
The Nativo Reserve, which received a gold medal, was fermented without the use of cultivated yeast or what’s called a wild fermentation process.
“This doesn’t taste like any regular Chambourcin. With deep hues of purple and garnet, this Chambourcin overwhelms the senses with aromas like blackberry, raspberries and raisins,” Bower said. “Its unfiltered texture lends towards a complexity not seen in other Chambourcin wines. The wine has fresh flavors of cherry pie and finishes long and strong. It’s truly a local drink that’s 100 percent natural. Its high acid will lend itself to drinking with food. Drink with local grilled lamb, beef or ribs.”
Only hand-selected fruit from the college vineyard was selected for the Reserve Traminette to produce quality and flavor.
“We aged this wine for six months in Hungarian oak barrels for distinct body and oak aroma. The result is a very drinkable dry white wine with distinct lime, pear, rose, lychee and floral aromas that are reminiscent of Gewürztraminer wines from Germany,” Bower said. “The flavors have been modified from a typical Traminette to a more complex wine with a heavy mouth-feel, smooth acidity and a distinct pear, floral, lime and gunmetal finish.”
The Merlot Reserve, which received a silver medal, retains a beautiful red color from prolonged skin maceration. The wine boasts aromas of cranberry, cherry, white pepper and strawberry on the nose. Rich and elegant, this wine’s flavors are retained, as it is tasted. Medium tannins dominate the mid-palate with a rounded mouth-feel and an extremely long finish.
“This wine was aged in neutral French oak for six months and shows lightly toasted oak flavors but stays true to varietal with an extremely smooth mouth-feel and medium tannins. This wine will be age worthy over the next five years at least,” Bower said.
The Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine Competition began in 1995 and is open to any commercial vineyard, winery or amateur winemaker in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia or West Virginia. Now in its 14th year, the competition continues to increase in popularity as the wine industry in the Southeastern United States grows. In the past five years, the number of competitive entries has grown by more than 150 percent, with over 500 wines submitted for consideration in 2012.
“The wine industry in the Southern U.S. has enjoyed explosive growth over the past 20 years,” said Jim Collins, Wine Superintendent and Coordinator of the Fair’s Wine Competition. “Looking across the region, there are a number of talented winemakers who are producing terrific vintages. The Dixie Classic Fair is proud to support and promote wineries in the region through the Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine Competition, and we look forward to another successful competition in 2013.”
Surry Community College began offering courses in Viticulture in 1999 through the Continuing Education Division and now offers a degree, diploma and a certificate in Viticulture and Enology Technology. Curriculum classes in Viticulture were first offered in the Fall of 2000 with Enology classes added in 2001. Classroom instruction is supported by a teaching vineyard and state-of-the-art, bonded winery where students gain hands-on experience. The Shelton-Badgett NC Center of Viticulture and Enology opened in the Fall of 2010, offering enhanced learning opportunities for students. SCC serves as a source of information and support for the North Carolina grape and wine industry. Additional information about the program may be accessed at www.surry.edu.