Sustainable Producer Spotlight Series ~ Past Submissions
Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery
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On a 35-acre farm in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Patricia and Clyde Colwell share the sweet task of producing their Carolina Heritage wines. They have some part-time and harvesting help, but it's pretty much a two-person operation.
"We do everything from planting and pruning the vines to harvesting, making and bottling the wine and selling it in the tasting room and at outside tastings," Patricia says.
The operation, Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery, is about 25 miles from Winston-Salem. Twelve acres are planted with blueberries, grapes, and apple and pear trees; the grapes grow on a knoll 1,100 feet above sea level, which both helps with the heavy humidity in the area's climate and allows the grapes to grow on a hillside and avoid the standing water they don't care for.
Carolina Heritage is the first certified organic vineyard in North Carolina, and the Colwells say lots of experts told them growing grapes organically wasn't possible there.
"A lot of folks have told us that the fact we are certified organic is an inspiration to them to consider also going organic," Patricia says.
"We would like nothing better than to have others also organic."
All of the fruit goes into making the wine. The bees in Clyde's 6-hive apiary both pollinate the plants and provide honey for the mead. Six chickens and seven guineas help control pests, and the Colwells last year added a photovoltaic system that provides about 90% of the power for the business' winery and tasting room.
Before they started the business in 2005, Clyde had pursued a career in education as a teacher, principal, and superintendent. Patricia was a software executive with IBM.
"We believe that there are three things essential to sustain human life on this planet and those are clean air, clean water and good soil," Patricia said. "We decided to put this philosophy into practice when we decided to have a vineyard and winery. We work hard to build up the soil and don't use any chemicals which can wear it out. We don't use any chemicals in the winery or vineyard so none wash into the local river and water basin."
They mostly advertise on the Internet and through direct mailing to their customers.
"The ATTRA newsletter has been very informative for us and has kept us current with information regarding organic and sustainable practices," Patricia said. "This is very important to us as my husband and I...no longer have the time to spend in weekend conferences on these subjects. ATTRA fills a very important need for us as we can stay educated and current by reading the newsletters on a schedule which fits in with our daily work. Thank you!"
Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery website www.carolinaheritagevineyards.com
The Sustainable Producer Spotlight is offered as a celebration of those who practice sustainable and organic agriculture and is not intended as an endorsement of the featured operations or products.
This page was last updated on: December 22, 2014