plēb urban winery Profile
Written by Brian—Feb 15, 2019
Winemaker Chris Denesha grew up in California’s Central Valley. After after graduating from Sonoma State, he worked for Rodney Strong and then spent time in Washington, Spain and Utah before settling in Boone County, North Carolina.
While managing vineyards in the hills surrounding Asheville, Chris began to imagine ways to make a statement about the potential of local grapes. Toward this end, he partnered with local entrepreneur Lauren Turpin and together they opened plēb, the region’s first urban winery.
Located in Asheville’s arts district, plēb became a gathering place and a platform for educating guests about North Carolina wine. Winegrowing in the Tarheel State is still a fairly new enterprise and the idea of NC wine is still shocking to many patrons. So part of the plēb mission is to demonstrate the promise of local wine.
At the same time, plēb is more than an urban wine bar. It is also a springboard for experimenting with wines from varieties requiring minimal intervention. This means using native grapes and French-American hybrids that are less familiar to the public, but grow much more naturally in the damp climate and short Appalachian growing season. A few international varieties are also used, but Catawba, Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc and Traminette are main event.
The approach to winemaking deviates from conventional treatment of those native and hybrid grapes. One example is plēb’s skin fermented Catawba aged in neutral French oak. Sulphur is not used and Chris tries to be as natural as possible in his approach. This is a rare thing on the east coast.
Urban wineries are generally trendy and fun, but plēb adds another dimension. We should keep our eye on this producer and see how they evolve. In the meantime, make an effort to stop in and after you do, please let me know what you think.