Even though an errant March snowstorm meant we couldn’t wander the grounds or prune any grapes, I was already having a good time during my tour of Addison Farms Vineyard when I asked our guide a question I wasn’t sure was stupid or not—” what is natural wine?” His answer solidified my Addison Farms fandom.
“Basically a marketing scheme.”
I automatically like anyone comfortable cutting through the bullshit, especially in a professional capacity. He’s not wrong. A quick Google search of “is natural wine just marketing” brought back result, after result, after result, after result. When it comes down to it, our host explains, natural wine is just wine that has less intervention from winemakers than normal, not that intervention is bad—intervention can mean adding sugars or sulfites (amongst many other ingredients/processes I simply don’t know) that are what often make wines consistent. When you make natural wine, you let nature and biology take their course, which is exciting for winemakers and consumers as the end result can be completely new.
Asheville obviously, loves natural wines. Back before I knew what natural wines actually entailed, I was invited to a natural wine speakeasy—it didn’t come up on Google maps, had no website, and I’d need a password to get in to ensure it was a “local’s only experience.” I ended up declining the invite (I’m at the age that if you purposely hide from the Google robots, I’m not putting forth any extra effort to find you). North Carolina’s only all-natural wine shop is in Asheville, and I saw reports that the infamous, just-closed Hot Spot downtown on Hilliard Ave (one block up from downtown Hi-Wire and Ben’s Tune Up) was being turned into a natural wine bar (I got this report from the Crying in Chicken Alley Instagram account, so I’m not sure if said report was satirical or not, but I’m choosing to believe it…I’d also give them a follow if you like to mock the sorts of people who only drink natural wine because it’s “better for you”).
Natural wine is not necessarily better for you than regular wine and is not necessarily organic (which the marketers might want you to believe). It’s simply a different method for achieving good wine that’s getting more play these days. It’s also delicious. We were fortunate to sample a bottle of Addison Farm’s newest natural wine, Bottle Rocket, which they hadn’t yet officially released. I loved it. It poured cloudy/hazy and drank closer to a beer or cider than a wine—I found it refreshing (keep in mind, have the palate of someone who enjoys Bud Light Lime). I loved it so much I had two glasses after our tour closed and came home with four bottles.
Addison Farm is the closest vineyard to Asheville (there are quite a few wineries down in the Hendersonville area), and it’s been on my radar for a while. I went with my parents when they came to visit in early March and wasn’t sure what to expect. Addison Farms is out in Leicester, which… there are many flags in Leicester advertising how they’re excited to make America great again in 2024. Also, we were running late. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about on either accord.
A trip to Addison Farms is well worth the twenty-minute drive out of town. The winery and vineyards are beautiful, and while we stayed for a few glasses after our tour, I could see spending an entire afternoon on one of their outdoor picnic tables on a gorgeous day.
What made the tour and tasting fun for all of us was how passionate everyone at the vineyard was about winemaking. While neither my parents nor I are wine connoisseurs in any sense of the word, the staff’s enthusiasm about grape-growing, winemaking, and the care and work that goes into both was evident and contagious. I highly recommend giving them a visit (they’re currently offering tours on Saturday and tastings by reservation).