Quick Reminiscing of 2018 and Looking Forward to 2019

2018 brought us many new experiences and of course several challenges. We rung in 2018 downtown Greenville, South Carolina….Yeah That Greenville!

The first few weekends took us to Morgan Ridge Vineyard and Brewhouse, Misty Creek Vineyard, Parker-Binns, and Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard.

Valentines weekend took us to Charleston and Savannah. We enjoyed a visit to view the 400+ year old Angel Tree before making our way to Deep Water Vineyard.

March brought our anniversary and a visit to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This trip offered us the opportunity to visit Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg plus a viewing of the oldest cultivated grape vine in the United States. The “MotherVine” located in Manteo is known to be 500+ years old. This scuppernong still produces grape today.

In May we hosted the inaugural Palmetto Wine Competition at the historic Belmont Inn in Abbeville. We’re proud of the event and thankful for the opportunity to promote the South Carolina wine industry.

The summer months brought visits to the Yadkin Valley, Upper Hiwassee Highlands, Eastern Tennessee, and to many of our local favorites.

October we were blessed with a visit to Highlands, North Carolina and a stay at The Old Edwards Inn. We were lucky to have the Sommelier give us a tour of the wine cellars.

Christmas brought us another opportunity to visit Charleston where we experienced a gorgeous Christmas Eve sunset on the beach at Isle of Palms!

Yes, this post skips right by so many fun times and visits to so many awesome places. Our resolution is to better promote all of the amazing small businesses and destinations for which we are fortunate to visit. We remain thankful for our family and friends, and for your continued support of our blogs Winery Escapades and Our Wine Tonight.

Here’s to a healthy, prosperous, and happy 2019.


Jenni and Dennis


A Few Things We Love About South Carolina Wineries!

As natives of South Carolina, allow us to share a few things we love about South Carolina wineries.

We love Pinot the pig, fun gatherings, and award winning wines at CityScape Winery in Pelzer.  

We love the annual Harvest Festivals and Pack the Porch festivals at Enoree River Vineyard in Newberry. So much fun!

We love hard apple cider and those hot apple cider donuts at Windy Hill Orchard and Cidery in York.

Love visiting Deep Water Vineyard on Wadmalaw Island outside of Charleston for a wine tasting, and walking next door for tasting at Firefly Distillery.

Love an after dinner visit to Old Rock Quarry Winery in Enoree. Feels like visiting old friends and hanging in their backyard drinking sweet homemade wine.

Pam loves drowning the cat at Cats Paw Winery in Rock Hill. Jenni loves the wine bottle gun opener!

Love a glass of estate grown European Vinifera wine and lunch from the café enjoyed on the terrace at Victoria Valley Vineyards in Cleveland. Love the Vine to Wine tours at Mercer House Estate Winery in Lexington. Five vineyards, five scenic ponds, 2 creeks, on a one mile walking path. Have a glass while exploring nature!

Love a tasting at Boardwalk Winery and Carolina Vineyard Winery when visiting the Grand Strand.

Love Open House the first Saturday of every month at Wandering Bard Meadery in Mauldin.

Love the estate grown French-Hybrid varietals at Wellborn Winery in the Woods up in Travelers Rest.

Love the fresh fruit wines produced at Lazy Bear Winery in Easley.

Love enjoying a bottle in the barrel room at Island Winery on Hilton Head Island.

We absolutely love hosting the Palmetto Wine Competition at the historic Belmont Inn in historic Abbeville.

Love the original Palmetto Signature Six. Six award winning wines produced entirely from South Carolina grown fruit.

Love so many of the award winning wines produced and bottled in South Carolina.

Palmetto Wine Competition’s award winning Best in Show; Raspberry White Zin from CityScape Winery.

Palmetto Wine Competition gold medal lineup!

A few more of our favorite South Carolina wines!

How about setting out to visit all of our South Carolina wineries! All of our South Carolina vineyards and wineries are locally owned small businesses. Cheers!

Announcing The 2019 Palmetto Wine Competition

Jenni and Dennis Turner of WineryEscapades.Com officially announce the 2019 Palmetto Wine Competition will be held May 7th, 2019 at the historic Belmont Inn in Abbeville, South Carolina.

Planning for the 2019 state wine competition is ongoing and further details will soon follow. The 2018 competition awarded 38 medals amongst entries from nine South Carolina wineries.

The 2019 competition will award medals in categories of muscadine, bunch grape, fruit wine, mead, and cider. A highly qualified panel of judges bringing a wealth of knowledge will judge the wine entries by blind tasting. An awards gala sponsored by the South Carolina Winery and Grape Growers Association that same evening will crown and celebrate the award winning wines.

Press Release: Palmetto Signature Six

The Palmetto Wine Competition announces the 2018 Palmetto Signature Six.

October brings harvest in South Carolina vineyards and we celebrate South Carolina grown fruit by presenting our inaugural selection of home grown award winning wines, the Palmetto Signature Six.

Six award winning wines produced entirely from South Carolina grown fruit. This year’s award winning group includes three whites and three reds produced from vineyards spanning from the Low-country to the Upstate.

Presenting The White Wines

Woodsy White – Wellborn Winery – Travelers Rest

An unique blend of Syval Blanc and Traminette create this award winning off-dry white. Two French-American Hybrid varietals grown in Wellborn’s modest vineyard rooted in Northern Greenville County.

Vineyard Owners – Tony Beninati & Debbie Sikora
Winemaker – Tony Beninati

Curiously White – Enoree River Vineyards – Newberry

A blend of different white Muscadine varieties. A vineyard planted of Carlos Muscadine  at this Newberry winery, curiously yielded several vines with grape of unknown varieties. Fruit from these specific vines are blended to create this limited production award winning semi-sweet white wine.

Vineyard Owners – Richard & Laura LaBarre
Winemaker – Laura LaBarre

Magnolia – Abiding Vine Vineyards – Laurens

Produced entirely from the single Magnolia Muscadine varietal. The young vines at Abiding Vine Vineyard have thrived in the rich country soil producing this light and crisp award winning white wine.

Vineyard Owner – David Barnes
Winemaker – David Barnes

Taking Notice Of The Red Wines

Carolina Nights – CityScape Winery – Pelzer

Southern Greenville County grown Noble Muscadine and locally grown South Carolina blackberries beautifully blend to produce this award winning semi-sweet medium bodied easy drinking red wine.

Vineyard Owners – Josh and Deb Jones
Winemaker – Josh Jones

Blueberry Jalapeño – Mercer House Estate Winery – Lexington

Complex award winning blueberry wine with just the right amount of extra ummppp! This unique blend produces a bold complex flavorful red wine.

Vineyard Owners – Shannon and Kim Mercer
Winemaker – Shannon Mercer

High Tide – Deep Water Vineyards – Charleston

A light bodied wine produced from grapes of the single Noble Muscadine varietal harvested from Deep Water’s mature vines rooted on Wadmalaw Island. This award winning wine exhibits a robust nose and deep bold flavors.

Vineyard Owners – Jesse and Andrea Friewald
Winemaker – Jesse Friewald

July 4th, 2018 was opening day for Wellborn Winery in Travelers Rest, South Carolina. We had waited in anticipation and it was great to see Tony and Debbie enjoy their grand opening celebration. A good crowd showed up and all in all the entire opening day was a huge success!

Tony and Debbie have done a great job with the property. A comfortable patio just outside the cozy tasting room offers tables to sit and relax. Several others tables are scattered about the property and overlooking the small vineyard.

Wines are crafted from French Hybrid and muscadine grapes grown in the estate one acre vineyard and also locally sourced from neighboring vineyards and farms.

Wellborn won a total of five medals in the 2018 Palmetto Wine Competition with the Woodsy White winning a gold. Several wines have also won medals in amateur competitions in Florida.

After enjoying the festivities and of course some award winning wine, we said our goodbyes and headed toward Tryon. We were excited to check out the construction progress at Mountain Brook Vineyards.

The construction didn’t hinder the crowd who were enjoying the musical talents of Bren Sams.

It was fun to sit with Carroll and Bren (during her short breaks between sets). We enjoyed moments chatting with Vickie, winemaker Liz, and even saw David Murphy who was one our head judges in the Palmetto Wine Competition. The views remain gorgeous even through the construction.

Our Forth of July first date tradition is watching the fireworks display from downtown Spartanburg. Arriving early to secure a good spot and thereby finding some time to kill, We meandered over to the AC Marriott and enjoyed something refreshing.

Finished our Independence Day fun with a great view of the patriotic fireworks display!

Happy Weekend Wining!

Final Thoughts and Press for the inaugural Palmetto Wine Competition

We are thrilled with the following press of the inaugural Palmetto Wine Competition from the Index-Journal in Greenwood, South Carolina. Staff writer St. Clair Donaghy attended the day’s events and we are thrilled to see included comments from several participating winery owners and our judges. Please take a moment to read the article. We appreciate your support.

Palmetto Wine Competition Article

The event was very rewarding for Jenni and I, even though it was indeed much more work than we anticipated. Finding enough wine glasses became a challenge. We settled on renting the glasses but then had to overcome the logistics of getting the glasses from Greenwood to the small town of Abbeville. Fortunately, a childhood friend of mine lives nearby and totally saved the day, delivering and returning all 12 racks of wine glasses. Each wine had to be assigned an unique number, and the proper tasting order had to be determined.

Selecting and gaining commitments from qualified judges was probably our biggest challenge. We wanted several highly trained and educated judges paired with others who had a developed knowledge and appreciation for local crafted wine. A couple of our initial choices could not maintain their commitment for various reasons. However, we feel as though we met our objective to sit a diverse group of well qualified judges.

We owe a huge gratitude to our sponsors. Our host site, The historic Belmont Inn of Abbeville, South Carolina was the perfect venue for our wine competition. The hotel was built in 1903 and maintains a relaxed elegance of years gone by. We highly recommend a visit and overnight stay. We believe that you will quickly come to love the Belmont same as we do. While there, be sure to try the Boomerang Burger in Tinkers Alley, the basement pub. This burger, with a pineapple slice and topped with pimento cheese is to die for!

Our other sponsor, The VinoWine App is our favorite winery escapade tool. No matter where you find yourself, open the app and click on the map to see nearby wineries. The app includes useful information about each winery and even reviews. The app further provides a marketplace for small local craft wineries to sell their wines. If you love wine, and traveling, download The Vinowine App and start exploring local craft wineries.

We also owe a great gratitude to The South Carolina Wine and Grape Growers Association. Without these guys, we’re mostly stuck drinking mass produced grocery store wines. Get out and visit a local winery, you can thank us later…..with a bottle of wine of course.

Congratulations to all our winning wineries.

CityScape Winery – Pelzer (Greenville County)

Wellborn Winery – Travers Rest (opening July 2918)

Abiding Vine Vineyard – Laurens

Enoree River Vineyards – Newberry

Mercer House Estate Winery – Lexington

Carolina Vineyard Winery – Myrtle Beach

Deep Water Vineyard – Wadmalaw Island (Charleston)

Island Winery – Hilton Head Island

Below are a few of the pictures I’ve collected from the inaugural 2018 Palmetto Wine Competition. Lunch prepared by the Belmont Inn’s Chef Darby was enjoyed on the veranda while listening to the smooth sounds of Alex Davis.

Next year, we’re planning a regional competition to promote the regions which we visit each weekend. Let the planning begin! We are very proud of the event and hope to encourage fellow wine lovers to get out and visit a local craft winery.

Official Results: 2018 Palmetto Wine Competition

May 03, 2018
Re: Palmetto Wine Competition at The Belmont Inn

Dennis and Jenni Turner, bloggers of WineryEscapades.Com, hosted the inaugural Palmetto Wine Competition at The Belmont Inn in historic Abbeville, South Carolina on May 1st. The competition featured forty-four wines produced and bottled by nine different South Carolina Wineries. A panel of six highly qualified judges from many different sectors of the wine industry judged the wine entries by blind tasting. The event featured lunch prepared by Chef David Darby on the veranda at The Belmont Inn while listening to the musical talent of Alex Davis.

Fifteen Bronze Medals awarded:
Curiously White Muscadine – Enoree River Vineyards, Newberry
Carlos Muscadine – Enoree River Vineyards, Newberry
Gewürztraminer – Enoree River Vineyards, Newberry
Driftwood – Deep Water Vineyard, Wadmalaw Island (Charleston)
Low Country Red – Deep Water Vineyard, Wadmalaw Island
Harvest White – Island Winery, Hilton Head Island
Joe’s Reserve – Island Winery, Hilton Head Island
Peach – Carolina Vineyard Winery, Myrtle Beach
Malbec – Carolina Vineyard Winery, Myrtle Beach
Mango – Carolina Vineyard Winery, Myrtle Beach
Red Raspberry – Carolina Vineyard Winery, Myrtle Beach
Blackberry – Carolina Vineyard Winery, Myrtle Beach
Regale Muscadine – Abiding Vine Vineyard, Laurens
Midnight Fruit – Wellborn Winery, Travelers Rest
Berry Dessert Wine – Wellborn Winery, Travelers Rest

Eleven Silver Medals awarded:
Tara White Muscadine – Wellborn Winery, Travelers Rest
Rustic Red – Wellborn Winery, Travelers Rest
BlueBerry Jalapeno – Mercer House Estate Winery, Lexington
Raspberry Honey – Island Winery, Hilton Head Island
Peach on the Beach – Island Winery, Hilton Head Island
Pinot Grigio – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Pineapple Riesling – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Green Apple Gewürztraminer – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Carolina Nights – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Blackberry Merlot – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Coffee Delight Dessert – CityScape Winery, Pelzer

Nine Gold Medals awarded:
¬Woodsy White – Wellborn Winery, Travelers Rest
Magnolia Muscadine – Abiding Vine Vineyard, Laurens
Cranberry – Carolina Vineyard Winery, Myrtle Beach
Blackberry – Enoree River Vineyards, Newberry
Müller Two-Goats – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Reserve Cabernet Sauvingnon – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Dark Chocolate Red – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Caramel Delight (Dessert) – CityScape Winery, Pelzer

High Tide – Deep Water Vineyard, Wadmalaw Island

Three Double Golds were awarded:
Raspberry White Zin – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Pomegranate Pinot Nior – CityScape Winery, Pelzer
Southern Passion – Island Winery, Hilton Head Island

Our Best in Show Signature Winner:
Raspberry White Zin – CityScape Winery, Pelzer

An awards ceremony will be held at a later date to present Signature Best in Show trophy to CityScape Winery in Pelzer, S.C. We remain very grateful to our sponsors, The South Carolina Wine and Grape Growers Association, The VinoWine App, and The Belmont Inn. A trophy presentation for the Best in Show Signature Winner is scheduled for May 26th, 2 p.m. at CityScape Winery in Pelzer, S.C.

Introducing the Judges Panel: Palmetto Wine Competition 2018

One of our more daunting task for the 2018 Palmetto Wine Competition was assembling a panel of judges who were both highly qualified and also with a developed appreciation for local crafted wine. We’re beyond thrilled with this years team.

David Murphy

David serves as one of our Head Judges. He is a member of the French Broad Vignerons, a group that promotes the wine industry in Western North Carolina. David brings twenty-four hours of education for wine judges under the guidance of  AWS certified judges. He also has experience judging several regional wine competitions.

Ryan McCullough

Ryan will serve as our second head judge. He is a level two certified Sommelier and currently working toward advanced level three certification. Ryan has worked for The Sommelier Company in California and as a Wine Educator for The Fresh Market in Western North Carolina. He brings experience as a wine judge from the Miami Beach Wine and Food Festival.

Jeff House

Jeff is the proprietor of Bond Street Wines in Charlotte, North Carolina and Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is one of the most knowledgeable individuals we’ve ever met when it comes to understanding wine and specific wine regions. We visit Jeff often to expand our knowledge and appreciation of different wine regions.

AnneMarie Humm

AnneMarie is the current Chapter Chair of the Emerald City Chapter of the AWS in Greenwood, South Carolina. She is also the South Carolina Regional Vice President of the American Wine Society (AWS). The AWS is a consumer organization that appreciates, celebrates, and shares knowledge about wine.

Jennifer Aycock

Jennifer is an educator and wine blogger based just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. She and her husband Bob, are the brains and personalities behind the blog WineCarolinas. She has participated in several regional conferences aimed at promoting local wines. Jennifer brings a wealth of knowledge about our local wine region.

Bob Aycock

Bob is the other half of the WineCarolinas blogging team. Bob and wife Jennifer, tirelessly promote and soak in knowledge of the local Carolina wine region. Bob brings an astute perspective and well developed appreciation for local crafted wines.

Judging is by blind tasting and wines will be scored utilizing the American Wine Society twenty point scale. Our judges will implement the five S technique, see, swirl, smell, sip, and spit. Each wine is judged on it’s own merit, not against other wines in the competition. Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals will be awarded for eleven categories.

Accept our invitation to join us May 1st at 1:30pm at The Belmont Inn in historic Abbeville, South Carolina as we announce our award winning wines. Following we will have a meet and greet with our judges and a few of the winemakers. Look for our articles after the competition as we detail the results and promote our award winning South Carolina produced wines.

Giving Thanks – Palmetto Wine Competition

We want express our thanks to the following for their support of the Palmetto Wine Competition at The Belmont Inn in historic Abbeville, South Carolina. First our Sponsors, The Vinowine App, the South Carolina Wine and Grape Growers Association, and the Historic Belmont Inn. We owe a huge thank you to Renee and Chef Darby at the Belmont Inn. We also need to thank Brook Bristow for providing us with some much appreciated guidance. St Claire Burns Donaghy who gave us our first mainstream publicity.

We are also thrilled that Alex Davis has set aside time from his busy schedule to share his unbelievable musical talent. Last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to our judges whom we will continue to introduce over the next couple of days. Jenni and I would love for all our friends to join us at Noon May 1st for lunch and at 2pm for the awards ceremony at The Belmont Inn as we announce this years award winning South Carolina wines and celebrate our local wineries!

Judges – Palmetto Wine Competition: Bob and Jen Aycock

Allow us to continue introducing our judges for the Palmetto Wine Competition at The Belmont Inn upcoming May 1st, in historic Abbeville, South Carolina. Bob and Jennifer Aycock are fellow bloggers based in Matthews, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. Together, the brains and personality behind the blog WineCarolinas.

We first met Bob and Jennifer at Childress Vineyards, while attending the North Carolina Wine Month kickoff event. As fellow bloggers, they are highly focused in on the local wine industry. The two recently attended the North Carolina Wine Bloggers Conference. Featured blog post on their site feature chef inspired wine and food pairings featuring local wine which the two have carefully selected.

Bob holds a BA from UNCW, and works professionally as a social media project manager and wine blogger. He recently shared, “I enjoy a fresh Rosé as much as I like a crisp Riesling or soft Merlot. I’m a native North Carolinian who loves the charm of small towns and their distinct history. I like celebrating and exploring all that the Carolinas have to offer with my wife and our four children. Jen and I have taken our appreciation of wine and decided to completely embrace it, setting out to explore the rich variety of wines of the Carolinas. It’s great learning about the people who make the wine, the love that goes into it, and what makes it all so unique. I believe supporting local businesses and industries is important.”

Jennifer has a BA in English, and works professionally as an educator and as a wine blogger. She explained to us, “right now my wine preferences are reds, Petit Verdot, Mourvèdre, and Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Wine Carolinas, which recently celebrated it’s one-year anniversary is their passion. Although Jennifer adds, “my love of wine started as an easy way to reconnect with my husband and enjoy some adult time away from our four, awesome kids, it has blossomed into a deep passion of local wine. I thrive on learning all that I can about the industry, the grapes, the people, and the incredible stories that are poured into each glass. In the past year, I’ve visited many wineries, explored wine festivals, and attended key events with the local wine industry (NC Wine Month Kickoff Event, NC Wine Bloggers Summit). I’m excited to share with others all that South Carolina is creating in the world of wine.”

We are beyond thrilled to have both serving as judges in the inaugural Palmetto Wine Competition. Bob and Jennifer bring a wealth of knowledge about the local and regional craft wine industry and we look forward to learning from their judging notes.