Harvest time at RayLen Vineyards & Winery 2008

By Laura Giovanelli
Published: October 2, 2008

MOCKSVILLE -- The grapes were ready, dark red and purple bunches hanging from the curve of the woody vines like garnet earrings dangling from a woman's ears.

Steve Shepard took a sip of coffee on a recent Tuesday morning and looked out over the vines. It was a good day for picking, cool and cloudy but not raining. Today it would be merlot, tomorrow golden-green vidal, followed in the weeks ahead by cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.

Generally, harvest time for vineyards in the Yadkin Valley stretches from late August to early October, when tons of grapes are snipped off vines from Boonville to Mocksville.

At RayLen Vineyards and Winery, where Shepard is the winemaker and general manager, it's the end of the growing season and the beginning of a monthlong rush to get the grapes in. They start with pinot grigio, a white grape, and end with cabernet sauvignon, used in lush reds.

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RayLen's Shepard Wins at Wine

By Julia Bank
Reporter for ON THE VINE Magazine
March/April 2008

Steve Shepard accepted two awards at this years North Carolina Winegrower’s Association conference. The first award, he accepted on behalf of RayLen Vineyards for the NC Winegrower of Excellence. The second award, a standing tradition, was the Member of Distinction award.

Kim Meyers, president of the NCWA, explained the process. “It was strictly by coincidence that Steve took home both awards. There were two completely different panels for each award,” Meyers said.

The distinction award stands out as an award for contributors who have done a lot to help change and grow the state’s wine industry. We consulted with Steve when we were building our winery,” Meyers said, also co-owner of Laurel Gray Vineyards. “He was helpful with every aspect we encountered. North Carolina is very fortunate to have him here.”

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Cat 5 Earns Praise

by Michael Hastings, Journal Food Editor
The Wine Cellar: North Carolina Wine of the Month
....from the on-line partner of WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL- Feb 22, 2008

Cost: $18

Review: Winemaker Steve Shepard likes to blend wines, and the Category 5 shows what he can do. This wine’s name reflects its five red grapes. It is 54 percent cabernet sauvignon and 21 percent merlot, with smaller amounts of cabernet franc, petit verdot and syrah. It smells of dark berries and plums, and hints of leather and tobacco. It’s a full-bodied wine, but its smooth tannins make it easy to drink. It tastes of lots of ripe fruit, with touches of coffee and tar, especially on the lingering finish. Serve with burgers, filet mignon and grilled and roasted meats. RayLen makes another, more expensive premium red blend called Eagle’s Select.

Bad Weather, Good Grapes

from the Charlotte News & Observer - April 14, 2008

Fans of North Carolina wines may have something special to taste this summer: North Carolina wines.

It turns out the grapes that survived the one-two punch of freeze and drought in 2007 are delivering a sublime sequel to a bitter year. Winemakers say they're seeing fantastic results.

"Those grapes are going to be phenomenal," says Karyn Howard, marketing director of RayLen Vineyards in Mocksville.

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RayLen Featured in the 'Wine Crush' Radio Show

from the Charlotte News & Observer - April 14, 2008

North Carolina wines, in general, and RayLen Vineyards & Winery, specifically, are featured in this podcast by the Wine Crush. Steve Shepard, RayLen's vintner, speaks of the challenges of growing grapes in North Carolina, impressing future buyers of wine produced in North Carolina and which wines are his favorites.

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