Today the 84-acre Laurel Gray Estate is planted with over 10 acres of rolling vineyards, containing French Vinifera varieties: Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Pinot Gris. The soil is a sandy loam, produced from the weathered rock of one of the continent’s oldest mountain ranges, providing a well-drained foundation on which our vines prosper.
Laurel Gray Vineyards is located within the Swan Creek region of the Yadkin Valley. Elevation is 1100 feet above sea level at the southern base of a small mountain the owners have dubbed “Scarlet Mountain”. The climate of the Swan Creek area during the growing season is different than other portions of the Yadkin Valley featuring warm days, cooler nights, and often, a nice breeze. Benny Myers theorizes: “With the Brushy Mountains to the southwest and the Blue Ridge chain to the northeast, this works as a natural funnel sending cooling winds through the vineyard. This wind dries the vines of early morning dews and temperatures are consistently 3 to 5 degrees cooler than locations even 1 mile away. As a result the harvest is later, allowing the fruit more time on the vine to develop complex varietal flavors”.
The agricultural, artistic, scientific, and business backgrounds of the Myers are reflected in the vineyard. Vertical shoot positioning and balanced pruning practices are used to create the highest quality fruit. Vigorous shoot thinning and leaf positioning are other common practices to ensure high air flow and sunlight to the berries. During the pruning and growing season, each vine is visited an average of 8 to 10 times. Pruning, thinning, and harvesting are all done by hand to guarantee the highest quality vines and fruit. The philosophy at Laurel Gray is to concentrate the flavors within the berries while keeping the vines in balance for future years in order to consistently produce high quality wines.
Laurel Gray Vineyards produces handcrafted Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Scarlet Mountain (Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend), Windsor (Meritage style dry red blend), and Dry Rose’, semi-sweet pink Rose 1773, sweet white Nectar, sweet Encore. In 2010 Laurel Gray released the first in a series of holiday wines called “Carolina Christmas”. Total production varies from 1800 to 2500 cases depending on the year. The wines are crafted under the direction of our winemaker Erik Murphy.
Erik joined the Yadkin Valley Wine Company and Laurel Gray Vineyards on July 30th, 2012. A California native, Erik holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Viticulture and Enology from the University of California at Davis, a Master’s Degree in Wine Business Administration from Sonoma State University, and a Level 2 Sommelier Certification. He has traveled to major wine regions throughout the world gaining experience with different techniques, varietals, and procedures. Erik has worked harvest in Argentina, Germany, and New Zealand. His winemaking career in California includes River Road Vineyards in Sebastopol and The Sonoma Wine Company, a large custom crush winery. We feel these qualities are exactly what we need in a winemaker to continue our commitment to quality wines”.