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It’s a little-known fact that South Carolina has produced its fair share of winemakers. Take a sip of these tasty varieties by former Palmetto State residents now creating names for themselves in California and beyond
Perception Pinot Noir 2007 (Russian River, California), $42: Winemaker Mark Ray, a former sommelier for Charleston Grill and The Woodlands, founded Perception Wines with friends Shane MacNicholas and Dean Felber. This pinot shows great balance and elegance, but be forewarned: Perception is primarily available by mail order. Melissa Kelly Chardonnay 2007 (Sonoma Coast, California), $28: Melissa Kelly Wines owner Missy Ray spent 10 years in the local hospitality and wine distribution industry. Now she lives in California with her winemaker husband, Mark. The inaugural vintage of this full-bodied chardonnay has notes of vanilla, butterscotch, and crème brûlée. Whetstone “Jon Boat” Pinot Noir 2006 (Sonoma Coast, California), $45: Whetstone Wine Cellars’ Jamey Whetstone earned his food and bev chops working at Magnolias and Blossom before starting his winemaking career at California’s Turley Wine Cellars. His “Jon Boat” pinot noir shows characteristic red fruit, cherries, and ripe strawberries. Manifesto! Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (Suisun Valley, California), $15: Don’t let the exuberant exclamation point put you off—this delicious wine has all the crispness and flavor that defines sauvignon blanc as a great mealtime companion. Made by Jamey Whetstone and Henri Gabriel, founder of local wine distributorship Advintage, it pairs perfectly with local seafood. Lutea Pinot Noir 2006 (Russian River, California), $44: Lutea’s owner and winemaker, Suzanne Hagins, was born in Savannah but grew up along the South Carolina coast. Her carefully crafted pinot noirs are produced from organic and biodynamically grown grapes in a style that’s balanced, elegant, and attractive. Highly recommended!
Photographs (4) by Christopher Nelson; Perception Photograph by Ann Hawthorne; wine bottles courtesy of Crushed