Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Muscadine Wine - Another "Sweet" Drink
Wine. The nectar of the gods. Bacchus was totally right. And here in the South, we like our tea sweet along with our wine. Every week, driving down to Auburn during football season, I kept seeing the signs for a local winery in Harpersville, Alabama. I decided that it was time to pay the place a visit and learn about muscadine wine.
Morgan Creek Winery http://www.morgancreekwinery.com/ ,
is a beautiful little spot in the tiny town of Harpersville.
The building is right next to the vineyards and also a blueberry field. Set among oak trees, the winery houses a nice gift shop and, in the back, the actual working part of the wine making process. Established in 2000, the winery has quickly risen in popularity. It has several varieties of wine made from different species of muscadine. They also offer some blueberry wine and a peach wine made from Chilton County peaches.
Open Monday through Saturday from 10 am until 6 pm, the ladies in the gift shop conduct tours to explain the making of wine and then offer free wine tasting of their products.
It was very informative and I didn’t realize a lot of the work that goes into the making of wine, whether sweet or dry.
Most of the wines offered by the winery are sweet or semi-sweet, indulging the Southern sweet tooth. I particularly like the Carlos (named for a type of muscadine) and the Regal Red. They also offer a dry white wine, Cahaba White (also named for a muscadine) which I like because it reminded me of my youth, sneaking off into the woods and eating muscadines. The wine held that distinct taste. Another dry wine, Vulcan Red, was very smooth and rich. I enjoyed the wine tasting and the ladies showed us how to mix the peach and the blueberry to make a lovely Sangria which they say in the summer is a great drink when combined with fruits. I have to say it was wonderful, even in the spring without the fruit.
Every fall, the winery has a grape stomping held on the third Saturday of September. They hold a Lucy-look-a-like contest (remember the Lucy wine stomping episode?), with live music and lots of local products. I intend to go back for the contest. It should be fun. During the spring and summer, the winery also has live music and they encourage you to bring a picnic to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and the music. After the concert, there are fireworks. Sounds like a lovely evening, especially if you’re sharing the wine with someone special under the stars.
And what wine is complete without cheese? The ladies at Morgan Creek Winery directed us to a local shop, Millers Cheese House in Vincent, Alabama. Oh boy! The lady at the cheese house had samples of various cheeses, made by the Amish, set out to try. She also had various pickled products and bean dips to try. Everything tasted wonderful, especially the blueberry cheese. I am going to try it with the blueberry wine. I can’t wait.
There are many wineries in the State of Alabama and this one is exceptional. I hardily recommend it as a day trip from our area. It’s about 25 miles southeast of Birmingham just off of Highway 280.
After we finished our tours and explorations, we stopped at a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Inverness Plaza (Birmingham) which is on Highway 280. The Crazy Cajun Boiling Pot offered the best crawfish ettouffee I have had since I visited Brennan’s. It’s really a bar with the feeling of a dive on Bourbon Street but there were lots of families there and the atmosphere was upbeat and happy. I cleaned my plate and would have asked for more Hoppin’ John if I hadn’t already been so full. It’s a wonderful place to eat and I also recommend it after a hard day of wine tasting.
Do you like wine? Have you ever tried the local muscadine wines? Did you know that muscadine wine has more anti-oxidants that its grape cousins? Give Morgan Creek a try and I am afraid you’ll be hooked!