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.
Owner(s): Marvin and Geba Davenport
Open to Public
Fri 4 to 8, Sat-Sun 12 to 6
2550 Shadow Line Ln, Granite Falls, NC 28630
phone: (828) 234-5773
Shadow Line Vineyard Profile
Owner(s): Ed Wifnieski and Jennifer Foulides
Winemaker: Jennifer Foulides
Open to Public
Fri-Sun 12 to 5
5000 Patton Rd, Morganton, NC 28655
phone: (828) 391-8783
Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery Profile
Written by Brian—Feb 20, 2019
When Jennifer Foulides and Ed Wifnieski purchased the property that became Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery, it already contained producing vines. The previous owner planted grapes in 1998 and 1999 and sold the fruit to nearby wineries in the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina. Sot when the deal was closed in 2011, Foulides and Wifnieski had 2.5 acres of 12-year-old vines. This is not to say that the vines did not require maintenance, but they were able to create their first vintage that same year.
Today there are 6.5 planted acres. In a good year this produces between 800 and 850 cases of wine. When necessary, additional fruit is locally sourced, but there are no west coast grapes creeping into production. Silver Fork is a making 100% North Carolina wine.
Foulides and Wifnieski work together in the winery, but Foulides is the actual winemaker. Her chemistry background made this a natural transition. The couple have a portfolio of eight or nine different offerings and the primary emphasis is on dry-style, fine wines.
The most popular Silver Fork wines are a Bordeaux blend named Four Dog Red and a stainless steel Chardonnay. Of course, the rosé is another crowd pleaser. Other wines to look out for include the Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin.
There is a loyal base of local customers from the greater Asheville area, but most of the tasting room traffic is largely tourists. The winery is conveniently conveniently located very near Interstate 40 and signage attracts passers by.
Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery is widely regarded as a top regional producer and a rising star in the North Carolina wine industry. Whether you live nearby, passing through or just motivated to make a road trip, this winery should be on your radar. After you stop in, please let me know what you think.
All photographs credited to Silver Fork Vineyard.