Southern hospitality, colonial architecture, beautiful beaches, pristine golf courses—these are what come to mind when people think of South Carolina. Indeed, they represent some of the Palmetto State’s top attractions, but South Carolina is also drawing visitors for another reason: its unique wines.
With its humid climate, South Carolina winemakers have had to produce wines mostly with Muscadine grape varietals or fruits that thrive in the state, such as raspberries, blackberries, and peaches. Despite this disadvantage, winemakers have adapted and learned to produce wines with unique characteristics that represent the terroir and agriculture of the state. Check out the following list of three of the top wineries in South Carolina.
Located in North Myrtle Beach, Duplin Winery stands out as the maker of “America’s favorite Muscadine wine.” The winery also produces everything from red and white wines to specialty and blush wines.
Duplin Winery’s red wines are mostly made with the Coastal James, Noble, and James varieties of Muscadine grapes. The winery’s reds include the Black River Red, a sweet wine with Muscadine and Catawba grapes; and the Sippin’ Sweet Muscadine, made with a James varietal and hand-bottled in a mason jar.
Duplin Winery’s selection of white wines includes the Scuppernong, a Vitis rotundifolia variety that stands out as the oldest wine produced in the United States. Among the winery’s blush selections, visitors should try the Pink Magnolia, made primarily with mid-harvest Magnolia grapes but also a hint of Muscadine.
More than a winery, Duplin also produces a menu of gourmet dips and jellies with its Muscadines. Visitors can take home a jar of Muscadine Red Pepper Onion Relish and Muscadine Pineapple Habanero Salsa, or choose from jellies such as Hatteras Red Wine Jelly and Scuppernong Wine Jelly.
In addition to selling wines and grape-based foods, Duplin Winery hosts a number of events, including an Annual Grape Stomp, several Murder Mystery Dinners, and a number of concerts throughout the year at both its North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, location and in Rose Hill, North Carolina.
Just under 20 years old, Carolina Vineyards is located in North Myrtle Beach, not far from Duplin Winery and the Barefoot Landing shopping center. The winery produces several wines, including dry, semidry, and sweet wines. Its dry wines are made using a number of grape varietals, while its sweet wines are produced from fruit grown in the state.
Carolina Vineyards’ tasting room is open seven days per week and offers a tasting for just $3 for seven samples. From April through October, the winery also uses its wines to create a diverse selection of cool smoothies that are perfect for South Carolina’s hot, humid summer weather.
One of the highlights of Carolina Vineyards is its creative selection of four labels inspired by iconic images of Myrtle Beach and South Carolina, including the city’s boardwalk and the crescent moon and palmetto on the state flag. The bottles serve as unique gifts or souvenirs to remind visitors of their time in Myrtle Beach.
Located on Hilton Head Island, Island Winery was voted the “best destination off the beaten path.” Although the winery sources its grapes from vineyards across the country, it remains dedicated to making quality wines by using only the best grapes and fruits. The winery’s most popular red is the Petite Syrah, while its standout whites include Peach on the Beach, which blends Carolina peach wine with Chardonnay.
Island Winery’s white wine selection also includes the Muscadine-style Harvest White and its Dry Riesling, a semisweet fruity wine. True to Southern winemaking, Island Winery also features 100 percent fruit wines, including blackberry and blueberry wines.
Island Winery stands out as one of few wineries to allow shoppers to choose a customized label for any bottle of wine they purchase. The winery offers a selection of colorful, artistic labels designed by talented artists who have a love for Hilton Head Island. In addition to choosing the artwork, customers can add a personalized message.
Finally, Island Winery offers something difficult to find at other wineries: a Sherry Pepper Sauce. Although Sherry Pepper Sauce originated in Bermuda centuries ago, Island Winery has modified the recipe so that it pairs exceptionally well with South Carolina’s Low Country cuisine.
To make this special sauce, Island Winery infuses its barrel-aged semi-dry sherry with habanero peppers and smoky chipotle. Then, they add pequin peppers—a necessary ingredient in any recipe for the sauce—and a blend of Caribbean spices used in traditional local cuisine.
Although South Carolina doesn’t usually get as much attention as more well-known U.S. wine regions, the state’s wineries stand out for their creativity and their use of fruits. As you begin to explore South Carolina’s wine culture, pay attention to the suggestions of local winemakers when it comes to pairing their wines with local food. You’ll find that the wines complement the unique flavors found only in dishes from Low Country cuisine.