“Um, I do drink red wine,” says David. “But I also drink white wine. And I’ve been known to sample the occasional rosé. And a couple summers back, I tried a Merlot that used to be a Chardonnay, which got a bit complicated… I like the wine and not the label. Does that make sense?” – Shitt’s Creek
Our research of wine industry history in the Tryon Foothills has bought many unique findings.
However, perhaps the most interesting is the one winery that produced a Red Chardonnay wine!
The amazing story of Green Creek Winery’s 2007 Chardonnay Rosso!
Our research also came across an article from a well known wine website, one which in no uncertain terms explained that red wine could not be produced from white wine grapes. Well, never say never!
Green Creek Winery was established by Alvin Pack in 2005. The eight acre vineyard and winery was located in the Green Creek community of Polk County. The winery closed around 2018.
However, in 2007 the winery made a huge splash with it’s Chardonnay Rosso!
That right! A red Chardonnay!
…and by splash, we mean national and international news!
First, let’s explore the process. How in the world do you get red wine from a white grape!
We should note that Green Creek Winery grew both Chardonnay and Chambourcin fruit. In fact, the vineyards are still nurtured and harvested by Russian Chapel Hills Winery.
In white wine production, the fruit is pressed and the juice is drained off the skins. In red wine production, the juice is left to macerate on the skins in order to extract color.
See, the juice from most grapes, red skinned or white skinned, is pretty much colorless. Meaning the color of Merlot wine is derived from the process of allowing the pressed juice to soak on the fruit’s red skins!
However the red skinned Chambourcin is a type of grape called a teinturier! Meaning it’s juice is uncommonly naturally red-tinged. Therefore the Chambourcin juice doesn’t require to macerate on the skins to extract it’s color.
According to Pack, the process to produce the Chardonnay Rosso is a reverse of a Rosé process. In producing a Rosé wine, the juice from a pressed red grape is quickly drained after only limited skin contact. Thereby extracting much less color.
In producing the Chardonnay Rosso, both the estate grown Chardonnay and Chambourcin fruit was pressed and drained from the skins.
The Chardonnay juice is then macerated on the Chambourcin skins and the temperature is dropped to just above freezing. This process allows for juice to extract the color but not the other characteristics of a red wine.
The temperature is raised and the juice is drained from the skins prior to fermentation. This process provides a 100% Chardonnay wine that is red in color.
After fermentation, the wine was aged six months in Hungarian oak barrels.
The Chardonnay Rosso received a lot of local press and incredibly much national attention from Wine Enthusiasts magazine and also national television coverage from The Today Show! Stories about the red Chardonnay appeared in six foreign newspapers including a paper published in Bordeaux.
A Blue Ridge Now News article stated that Pack sent a sample to the editor of Wine Enthusiasts, and the magazine’s staff held a blind tasting in their New York headquarters. The editor reported back to Pack that no one could identify the varietal of the wine. Now knowing what Pack already knew at the time, that response was certainly no surprise!
Wine Enthusiast magazine featured an article on the Chardonnay Rosso in it’s March, 2007 edition.
The wine was bottled and released in April of 2007.
Approximately 150 cases were produced and each bottle sold for $22.
Details on the North Carolina ABC website show the Chardonnay Rosso was approved to be labeled at 12.4% ABV.
Honestly it’s just an amazing story. One that needed to be told again!
Our research of Red Chardonnay led us to another story. Back in 2001, California winemaker David Gluckman blended Malbec with Chardonnay and labeled his blend as Red Chardonnay.
We must admit though, we feel Green Creek Winery created the only true Chardonnay Rosso!
We’ve a nice collection of some early produced North Carolina and other regional wines. However, not the fortune to have a bottle of the famed Chardonnay Rosso!
Anybody got one? We’d love to share a taste!
Much to our surprise, we did find a review on CellarTracker.Com of the 2007 Chardonnay Rosso.
Continued research shows the Chardonnay Rosso first produced in 2006 and below is one picture we’ve uncovered.
Here’s to creative local winemakers! Here’s to Chardonnay Rosso! Cheers🍷🍷