I wasn’t what you would call a wine connoisseur, but I thought his wine was awful. My poor grandmother gamely tried her nephew’s potion, but said it reminded her of kerosene. She kept a few bottles around the house as a courtesy, but I am pretty sure they would have been a good kerosene stand-in after a few years.
Winemaking has come a long way in South Carolina since then. Enoree River Vineyards and Winery in Newberry County is evidence that you can make a good-tasting wine from the muscadine grapes that are prolific in South Carolina. (Check out my post in October about muscadines.)
When you arrive at the winery just off S.C. 34 about a mile from Interstate 26, you feel at first like you are going to Richard and Laura LaBarre’s home for a visit. Part of that feeling is because you are. But just beyond their home on the winding drive through the former cow pasture are the winery and the rows of Noble (red) and Carlos (white) grapevines that the couple planted in 2006.
For our trip, Laura and her sister did the pouring in their lovely tasting room with a fireplace overlooking the vineyard.
The LaBarres make two wines from their own grapes and bring in juice from Italy to make three wines there. They also import and bottle a Merlot from Washington State and make very sweet wine from other fruits including blackberries, raspberries and cranberries (for Christmas).
My favorite was the Curiously White that comes from Enoree River’s muscadines. I also enjoyed the Pinot Grigio made from the Italian juice they import. Others in my group enjoyed the Malvasia from Italy and the Merlot. You can stop by for a tasting (very small pours of all the wines they offer to see what you like) for $5 or, if you know what you like, you can stop by for a glass ($5) or pick up a bottle ($13). It would be a nice addition to any daytrip to Newberry, especially if you are planning dinner and a stop at the Opera House.
Enoree River Vineyards and Winery, (803) 276-2855, 1650 Dusty Road, is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Weddings and large groups should call ahead for reservations, and if you’re planning to visit on a holiday, it’s best to make sure they are going to be open.