In 1996, I was living in Missouri and had just published my first travel guidebook, 99 Fun Things to Do in Columbia and Boone County. The fledgling wine industry in that state was developing along the Missouri River, from Rocheport to Hermann, and on weekends we would go wine tasting.
The Missouri wine tradition is German and many of the wineries make Rhine style wines. I decided to write a guide book about the wineries and talk about where they are located and what wines they make. Unfortunately, we moved away to North Carolina before I could write the book, so I told my publisher he had to write it. He did, and Exploring Missouri Wine Country by Brett Dufur was published in 1997.
After settling in eastern North Carolina, I soon learned that the state was in the beginning stages of developing a wine industry. With only nine wineries open to the public at that time, I decided to write the book. I spent the next nine months crisscrossing both North and South Carolina, tasting wine, taking photos, and interviewing wine makers and vineyard owners. I found a vastly interesting group of people who had one thing in common – their passion for making wine.
Carolina Wine Country The Complete Guide was published in 1999 and sold over 3000 copies. Even though it is out of print and wayyyy out of date, Amazon.com continues to sell the occasional copy and I’m proud to say that most of the newer winery owners have heard of it. I guess that makes me legendary.
I published a slim guide in 2012 titled the Northwest Florida Wine Tour which covered the seven wineries operating in the Florida Panhandle at that time. Sadly, two of those wineries are now closed and this book too is wayyyy out of date, but recently two more wineries have opened and they will be included in my next book, Florida Wine Country Guide to Northern Wineries.
I’ve been a wine lover most of my life. Becoming a wine writer and discovering the stories and people behind the wines has been even more fun. I’ve chosen to explore Southern wineries, not just because they are in my geographic area, but because there is such a variety of grapes being grown and wines being made. From native Muscadine grapes to European bunch grapes, to American hybrids, the tastes are wide ranging and fun.
So, I invite you explore Southern Wine Trails with me, both as an armchair traveler and as an active participant. I welcome your comments and feedback, and when you find a new winery, let me know about it. I’ll be sure and do the same.