Western North Carolina Wines

Western North Carolina, now a recognized wine region, is beginning to enjoy good press and recognition, with wine tourism starting to flourish. New wineries and vineyards are being planned and developed, and more grapes being planted.   The terroir of the Appalachians is only 480 million years old, and our soil and climate are outstanding.

But how do Western North Carolina wines do when compared to quality international and domestic wines?

Benchmark was designed to address this question, using a competition format to demonstrate comparability, as opposed to naming a “winner”.  The closer the scores in a group are, the more comparable the wines are. With a benchmark as a comparison tool, we are able to demonstrate that Western North Carolina wines compare well with other quality recognized wines.

How Our Benchmark Works

Gold Medal wines from the Western North Carolina Wine Competition form the group of wines that will represent WNC at each Benchmark event.

For each WNC wine selected, an independent source will identify one international and one domestic wine that are rated at about 90 Points by recognized raters.  The selected wines must also be at a price point similar to the WNC wine.

A team of seven evaluators – five American Wine Society Certified judges and two sommelier – will make up the judging team for each Benchmark.

All wines will be tasted in flights consisting of WNC wine and the international and domestic wines.  The judges will only be told the kind of wine they are evaluating, for example, “Pinot Noir”. Judges will assess the wines using our standard 20-point scale, on a blind basis, evaluating each wine strictly, and without group discussion or consultation.

The seven scores will be averaged to determine a final score for each wine that is published.

Benchmark results thus far demonstrated that Western North Carolina Wines have high comparability when compared to quality international and domestic wines. But we invite you to put our wines to the ultimates – yours! Visit French Broad Vignerons member wineries (you can find them at the bottom of each page of our website), try Western North Carolina wines and let them speak for themselves.

If you live outside of North Carolina, it is easy to order French Broad Vignerons member and other regional wines online by using


Benchmark 1 Results

Head Judge: Bill Fish

Cabernet Franc

Addison Farms, Leicester, NC – 2016 AWFF Double Gold Score 15.93
2013 Lang and Reed – North Coast, California 91 Pts Wine Spectator Score 13.93
2013 Domaine Bernard Baudry Chinon Loire Valley, Fr 87 Pts Wine Spectator Score 12.71

Gruner Veltliner
BurntShirt Vineyards , Hendersonville, NC- 2016 AWFFGold Medal Score 16.64
2015 WT Vintners Underwood Mountain Vineyard, Columbia Gorge, WA 89 Pts WE Score 15
2014 Tegernseerhof T26 Gruner Veltliner Federspiel, Wachau, Austria 88 Pts WE Score 17.14

Jones von Drehle, Thurmond, NC – 2016 AWFF Gold Medal Score 14.93
2014 Volver Tempranillo “Single Vineyard “ La Manch, Spain 91 Pts Parker Score 16.29
2014 Force of Nature Paso Robles Ca, 89 Pts Independent Score 17.29

Sanctuary Wines Pearl, Jarvisburg, NC – 2016 AWFF Gold Score 16.07
2015 Hendry Albarino, Hendry Vineyard Napa Valley, California 91 Pts. WE Score 15.29
2015 La Cana Albarino Rio Baixas, Spain 91 Points Vinous Media Score 16.86

Benchmark 2 Results

Head Judge: Bill Fish

Jones von Drehle Vineyards, Thurmond, NC Jones von Drehle Estate Viognier 100% Viognier 2015  AVLG* 16.5
Miner Family Vineyard, Simpson Vineyard (California) 100% Viognier 2014 17.2
Chateau la Selve Regis (France) 100% Viognier 2015 90 Points Table Wine 17.4

Cabernet Franc
Silver Fork Winery, Morganton, NC Cabernet Franc 100% Cabernet Franc 2014 AVLG 15.8
Bebame Red Wine Cabernet Franc (El Dorado County, California) 96% Cabernet Franc, 4% Gamay  2015 90 Points Tanzer 16.2
Wilford Rousse Chinon  Les Galuches (Loire Valley, France)100% Cabernet Franc 2013 92 Points Vinous Media 15.6

Cabernet Sauvignon
Biltmore Estate Wine Company, Asheville, NC, Biltmore Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Syrah, 1%     Merlot AVLG 17.4

Sailor’s Grave Red Wine (Napa Valley, California)  2012 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Zinfandel. 92 Points WE 16.5
Lamadrid Cabernet Sauvignon Single Vineyard Reserve (Mendoza, Argentina) 2013 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 5% Cabernet   Franc 90 Points WE 17.2

Cabernet Sauvignon
Jones von Drehle Vineyards, Thurmond, NC  Jones von Drehle Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
99% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc AVLG  16.6
Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California)  2013 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 92 Points Galloni 16.9
Decero Cabernet Sauvignon “Remolinos Vineyard” (Mendoza, Argentina) 2013 100% Cabernet Sauvignon 92 Points Suckling 16.4

* AVLG = Asheville Gold

The Benchmark demonstrates that Western North Carolina wines stand up well to quality international and domestic wines. We invite you to put our wines to the ultimate test – yours.  Try our wines and let them speak for themselves, by visiting the French Broad Vignerons member wineries (in the footer of this page). Be sure to use our Wine Passport to track your visits!
If you live outside of North Carolina, you may order our wines online from eight of our member wineries

Our gratitude goes to Asheville Color Imaging for their generous sponsorship of Benchmark. Wineries are not charged a fee to participate in Benchmark, so this sponsorship helps cover the costs associated with Benchmark.

Coming Up!

Gold medal wines from the 2017 Asheville Wine Competition will represent Western North Carolina in the next four Benchmarks as follows:

  • August/September 2017
  • Fall 2018
  • Winter 2018
  • Spring 2018