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Vintage Treks

Vintage Treks

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Vintage Treks

125 pages
1 hour
Jun 23, 2013


Among the simple but easily attainable pleasures of life, having friends for dinner, corking a North Carolina wine, and reading a passage from VINTAGE TREKS, acts like an appetizer to an appetizer. Jim Lavis begins with Love–love of knowledge of NC wines, love of science and lore of NC wines, but most powerfully, love of the beauty of NC wines--color, aroma, flavor, "mouth feel". Knowing where and how Michaelangelo obtained the pigments for his paints definitely increases the viewing pleasure of the Sistine Chapel. Likewise, sharing VINTAGE TREKS with dinner guests sipping Viognier, Chambourcin, or Chardonnay enhances the social experience. If you would fill your guests' glasses with more than wine, this book should be in your possession.

William Mastrosimone, Playwright for the Broadway Stage and Television “The sweet smell of crackling pine. The judicious flavors of the fruit of the vine. Jim Lavis brings it all home to Carolina . . . line after delectable line.”

Dave Hart, Author of TRENTON and Spirits of Cedar Bridge

Jun 23, 2013

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Vintage Treks - James S Lavis

Ebooks Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

From Second Wind Publishing

by James S. Lavis

Vintage Treks


Vintage Treks

A Guide to Aromas and Flavors of

North Carolina Wines


James S. Lavis

At Smashwords

Running Angel Books

Published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC.


Running Angel Books

Second Wind Publishing, LLC

931-B South Main Street, Box 145

Kernersville, NC  27284

Copyright 2013 by James S. Lavis

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or part in any format.

First Running Angel Books edition published

May 2013.

Running Angel Books, Running Angel, and all production design are trademarks of Second Wind Publishing, used under license.

For information regarding bulk purchases of this book, digital purchase and special discounts, please contact the publisher at www.secondwindpublishing.com

Cover art work created by David S. Lavis

Manufactured in the United States of America

ISBN 978-1-938101-32-8


I hail from a Greek/Italian family, so it’s no wonder my Italian grandfather made his own wine.  From an early age, wine was part of a meal just like a fork and spoon.  When I came of age, I branched out and tried other wines.  I found that learning about the many facets of wine actually enhanced my enjoyment, and so it was no big leap when my wife and I opened a wine shop in North Carolina.  I continued my study of NC wines.  The more I learned, the more I enjoyed the wines.  One day it occurred to me there may be people out there like me.  This book is for them.

This book is also dedicated to all those, past and present who played some part, large or small in the pursuit of a successful North Carolina wine industry.  It is because of their vision, determination, and investment of time, talent, and treasure that this industry is now recognized both nationally and internationally.  Special mention is in order for the late Terry Crater, co-founder of Buck Shoals Vineyards.  Although he’s not with us today to see how far the industry has come, we are all better for the part he played in helping to shape it.  His enthusiasm was contagious and he is sorely missed.  


My wife, Carol, and I opened our own wine shop in the fall of 2004 featuring over 220 North Carolina wines from across the state: coast to mountains, dry to sweet, and Vitis Vinifera to Vitis Rhontondafolia to Vitis Lumbrusca. In addition, Carolina Winesellers (our trade name), offered an equally sizeable eclectic selection of wines from around the world.

The experience of tasting North Carolina wines from different geographic areas proved invaluable to me. It awakened a yearning within me to discover those things that determine the aroma and flavor of wines. Which components contribute toward the wine’s uniqueness? What factors can influence the outcome of the vintage? In answering these questions we begin to understand many of the factors that contribute to what we will someday refer to as a signature for North Carolina wines.

Oh yes, there are definitely certain characteristics—certain aromas and flavors—that give a wine its persona, its identity, complete with a look and feel, from its color to its mouth feel and how long it lingers on the palate. Vitis Vinifera grapes are expected to display aromas, flavors, and colors considered characteristic of their varietal. When one factors in the direct influences that contribute to a wine’s personality, as presented to the taster in the form of aroma and flavor, each varietal takes on additional traits that add to the wine’s synergistic make-up. Together these yield far more than one would expect. Eventually, wines can become identified by their aromas and flavors as coming from a particular wine producing region, notably referred to as having their own ‘signature’: wines that to some degree display unique aromas and flavors.

All wine enthusiasts eventually associate certain aroma and flavor characteristics with different wine producing regions. We catalog these associations in our brains for future reference when tasting different wines. For me, the more North Carolina wines I evaluated by aroma and taste, the more frequently I identified a few underlying characteristic traits that differentiated them from wines of other geographic areas. But what caused these common characteristic traits I was noticing? This remained a mystery for me until I began to conduct a series of interviews. Through these, I was enlightened with clues to help explain what I hadn’t been able to put my finger on before. We’ll get into that mystery as the book proceeds.

When I first confirmed that I was noticing some recurring traits—perhaps some early regional identify, I didn’t quite know what to make of it. So in the fashion of a true wine enthusiast, I decided additional research was needed and kept on tasting more wines from different producers across the state.

I began to use aroma and flavor descriptors to put into words what I was trying to capture in my thought processes. For now, what’s important to know is that I found the aromas and flavors of our North Carolina wines unique and pleasing to my palate; possessing the qualities required for fine wines; expressing similarities to other fine wines from regions around the world; but most importantly exhibiting unique character and qualities that distinguished them as being in a class of their own. North Carolina wines are wines with their own identity, partly created and partly conjured, discovered in the terroir that was already here; a uniqueness that involves human intervention from vine to bottle and everything in between.

Aside from common concerns by vineyard owners like vine disease or damage by wildlife and insects, the biggest concern from year to year is weather. Specifically, there are high humidity levels here in North Carolina. High humidity, without counter-acting dry, cool breezes can adversely affect grape development by creating conditions that bring about mildew and grape rot issues, as well as too much vine vigor—a challenge presented to all North Carolina vineyard owners. These challenges demand the need for increased labor and materials for vine management in the form of methods for disease control, increased pruning, and canopy management to guarantee sunshine is delivered to all grape clusters. This must all be done to ensure the grapes reach their optimum level of ripeness. This is a tricky issue at best, one that can cause a grower to pluck the grapes from the arms of Mother Nature before they are truly ready.

The challenge is further exacerbated by the fact that harvest time in North Carolina coincides with the state’s hurricane season. Picking dates may be compromised due to the forecast of storms with heavy rains, or hurricanes and all the havoc they can bring. Depending on the hand you are dealt, the growing season can be full of promise and excitement, or disaster and despair. These realities could scare the pants off those who lack the will or constitution to handle Mother Nature’s curve balls when things don’t go according to plan.

While these conditions impose handicaps on growers, the situations they face are not without solutions. One approach that growers are becoming more and more interested in is the use of more native American and hybrid species of grapes: those that offer a higher resistance to local diseases and to the effects of adverse weather. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how our growers and wine producers experiment with grapes more indigenous to the region. Some have already begun; some may never take that path.

North Carolina has been on a roller-coaster ride with its wine industry for over 200 years.  Join me in the pages ahead for a series of interviews with many of our industry’s major players to better explain the aromas and flavors of our North Carolina wines.    


I’m a North Carolina (NC) wine enthusiast, proud of the progress that has been made by our producers. Those who do their homework in the vineyard and the winery do so that they may better understand their available resources, resources that may lead them to improvements in the quality and quantity of their wines.

Each producer is concerned with providing a memorable experience for each winery visitor and wine taster. I believe everyone would agree that, if one has a pleasurable experience

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