Burntshirt Vineyards, North Carolina’s newest winery, just took top honors in an international wine competition run by the wine industry trade publication, Vineyard & Winery Management. The winery opened its Tasting Room September 15.

Burntshirt Vineyard’s 2011 Grüner Veltliner (pronounced Grooner Velt-leaner) and Merlot wines received the awards in the 2012 International Women’s Wine Competition (IWWC) recently held in California September 18 to 19. The Grüner Veltliner wine was awarded the highest honors with a Double Gold medal and Best of Class designation in the Other White Varietal category against producers from France, California, Greece, and Virginia.

The Merlot wine was awarded a bronze medal in a category that included name brand wine producers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Rodney Strong from California’s highly touted Napa Valley and Sonoma County.

Burntshirt Vineyards was the only North Carolina winery that medaled in the competition.

The International Women’s Wine Competition was judged entirely by leading women in the wine industry. It recognizes not only the best wines submitted, but also the wines they most feel would appeal to women wine buyers and consumers. IWWC is committed to the highest standards of competition. Wines were judged from a field of more than 860 entries. Judges awarded a total of 27 Double Gold, 73 Gold and 268 Silver medals. Results are now posted on EnofileOnline.com or at vwm-online.com/iwwc.

To celebrate their opening and the recent success of their awards in the International Women’s Wine Competition, owners Lemuel and Sandra Oates and their family paid homage to the legend of Burntshirt Mountain for which their winery is named. Since mountain lore has it that farmers burning their fields on top of Burntshirt Mountain tossed their shirts in the fire for good luck, thus yielding a bountiful crop, the Oates lit a bonfire to set a shirt on fire for continuing good luck too.

All of Burntshirt’s wines are produced from 100 percent estate grown grapes from its 25 acres of family-owned vineyards which are among the highest elevations in the state and eastern seaboard. The high altitude, long sunny days, and cool nights allow Burntshirt Vineyards to grow some European varietals rarely produced in the United States.

Besides Grüner Veltliner, a grape most commonly grown in Austria, and Merlot, Burntshirt Vineyards also offers a Riesling, two Chardonnays (oaked and unoaked), Cabernet Franc, Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, Vidal Blanc and a red wine blend called “Altitude 3400,” which is named for the altitude above sea level of Burntshirt Mountain upon which six acres of grapes are planted. The remaining 19 acres of land under vines are across from the Tasting Room on Sugarloaf Road.

Burntshirt Vineyards is the state’s 114th winery. The vineyards were planted in 2009. The harvest of 2011 is the winery’s first vintage.

The Tasting Room hours of operation are Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m. and from 12 to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tours will be conducted during operating hours at 2 p.m. or by appointment. Group tours may be scheduled in advance.

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