Grape History of Tryon

Below is an excerpt of a current writing project.  

In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, Tryon table grapes and wines produced from grapes grown in the region were served in the finest restaurants all over the United States of America. It was often heard in New York, “give me Tryon grape.” The wines became known for quality to the wealthiest of connoisseurs and these wines were shipped all over the country.  Many of the Tryon vineyards were planted in the late 1800’s and some twenty plus vineyards existed in the early 1900’s growing grape varieties such as Muscadine, White Niagara, Red Delaware table grapes, and even European Vinifera.

The vineyard owners and winemakers of the early 1900’s are as likewise of intriguing interest. Harold Doubleday, nephew of Abner Doubleday of baseball fame. Sidney Lanier Junior, son of famed poet. Alex Lamort, immigrant from Bordeaux, France, brought to the United States by George Vanderbilt. Lamort’s 1916 obituary mentioned his wines as being known favorably all of the world. George Edward Morton, founder of Tryon’s first newspaper. William T. Lindsey, whose grapes were honored at the 1893 New York State Fair.

The favorable growing conditions of Tryon have been long promoted. At roughly 1400 foot of elevation along the southern slopes of the area’s mountain foothills exist a weather phenomenon known as the Thermal Belt. In the Thermal belt, frost is rare. The Tryon Foothills Thermal Belts are considered some of the more pronounced in the country. Temperatures in along these belts range about 20 degrees warmer than along the base of the foothills. It is this climate that not only makes the area ideal for growing grapes, but likewise contributed to the area becoming a summer resort destination. The later also contributing to the development of the Tryon Foothills in Polk County as a respected wine region.

In the early 1900’s, travel by train was the popular means of travel up and down the East Coast. Trains traveling from Miami to New York stopped in Tryon as often as 10 times each day. The area growers would peddle their fruit and wine at the train depot. Tryon wine gained notoriety as it was transported up and down the East Coast. Tryon wines are known to have been served at the Waldorf Astoria during the 1920’s. Tryon became to be known as one of the finest grape producing regions of the country.

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