This past weekend I invited some girlfriends over for a glass of wine in the backyard. With the sun in our faces, I slipped them a glass of Westbend Viognier from the Yadkin Valley. They quickly complimented the wine and I replied “it’s a North Carolina wine recommended by Su and Penny at Zeto downtown.” They couldn’t believe it.
That’s the rap that Su Peterson and Penny Demetriades, owners of the local Zeto Wine, are trying to help change.
Su and Penny are downtown Greensboro’s go-to wine experts. With a combined experience of more than 30 years in the industry, they started Zeto Wine long before downtown had much of a rep either.
Their love of wine comes from a love of nature and humanity. They take the time to meet with each winemaker to experience their stories and taste. Over the years Su and Penny have gotten to know many North Carolina winemakers and have learned more about the industry than could ever fit in this column.
While they admit that NC wine has a bad reputation, they preach that we haven’t given it a chance. In the grand scheme of winemaking, NC winemaking is significantly young. Without generations of experience, North Carolina winemakers are still learning to understand how grapes grow in our climate and soil. Both the industry and vineyards are maturing. Su and Penny encourage the public to recognize that winemaking is farming and to have respect for anyone who is farming grapes for winemaking in North Carolina. While the terrain presents challenges, North Carolina wine is unique in its variation from the coast to mountains.
This Spring and Summer, make some time to tour North Carolina’s wine vineyards. They make a lovely day trip and give you a chance to learn more about our local wines. You just might be surprised! In the meantime, Su and Penny identified their 6 favorite North Carolina wines. They have about a dozen in stock at Zeto and continue to meet and taste more varieties.
Six North Carolina Wines Recommended by Su Peterson and Penny Demetriades
Shadow Springs Vineyard Seyval Blanc from Swan Creek Yadkin Valley 2010 ($15.99)
This hybrid blend is sweet but not syrupy. It is a great springtime starter and pairs well with cheeses, lighter fish, fruits and chutneys. It is crisp and clean and medium bodied with a hint of peach and mango.
Raffaldini Pinot Grigio 2010 from Swan Creek ($11.99)
This family owned winery specializes specifically in Italian wines. Their NC Pinot Grigio pairs well with nutty cheeses, caprese salads, North Carolina shrimp, flounder and snapper.
Westbend Viognier from the Yadkin Valley ($11.99)
This husband and wife winemaking team started their work in the 1970s. They helped to pioneer the vinifera grape in North Carolina and discovered that the Viognier grape stood out in North Carolina as particularly noteworthy. The Westbend Viognier pairs well with crab and Asian foods. It is also an easy transition from chardonnay with hints of honey suckle and apricot.
Shadow Springs 100% Merlot from Yadkin Valley (17.99)
Aged 18 months in oak barrels which has a significant influence how smooth the wine tastes. With a medium body, this 100% Merlot is perfect for summertime grilled read meats, burgers or pizza!
Raylen Cabernet Franc 2010 ($14.99)
The cabernet grape emerged early on in North Carolina. It is typically used as a blending grape although Raylen has successfully bottled the grape solo. It is lighter than a cabernet sauvignon with notes of blueberry. Su and Penny recommends putting a hint of chill on the wine before serving in the summertime. Bring it to “cellar temperature by putting the bottle in the refrigerator about 20 minutes.
Stonefield Cellars Barrel X 2008 ($27.99)
The Stonefield Cellers have a unique background from their roots in California and technical skills in chemistry. This gives Stonefield Cellars a leg up on the industry. The Barrel X is a rich wine with an “old world style taste” that pairs extremely well with rustic dishes including beef, lamb and eggplant.