PHOTOS BY CARRIE ALLEN
The economics behind opening a winery are interesting to consider. Most businesses will open and begin selling their products within a relatively quick timeframe. With a vineyard, the work that needs to be put in before you open can take years. Growing wine grapes, cultivating them, producing the wine, aging it, and then bottling it all need to happen before you can sell your first bottle. Each of those steps can take years.
Add to that the difficulty of growing grapes, which require very specific climate conditions and meticulous attention from growers. The constant threat of storms, droughts, and heat waves that could wipe out a crop. With so many challenges, it’s almost a surprise anyone chooses to take the risk to start their own winery. Like anything difficult, the only reason to do it is because you love it.
Dynamis Estate Wines, just an hour drive north of Lake Norman, recently opened its doors to the public for wine tasting appointments and wine sales. While many wineries will import grapes from places like California and sell them on their estate when they first open, Dynamis has not. All the wine they sell has been grown, aged, and bottled on the estate. It means that their lead time and risk have been greater than many other wineries. Fortunately, the wine they’ve produced is spectacular — and has been well worth the wait.
Visiting the estate
The stone and iron gates of Dynamis Estate are just about a half-mile from Interstate 77. They open to guests via a callbox and allow entry to the grounds, but they almost feel like a portal to another world.
After driving past the guard house, you follow a narrow road through a tunnel of green tree canopy that runs straight up the side of the mountain. When the woods part, they give way to rolling vineyards that stretch in front of you as far as the ridgeline runs. It takes a full 10 minutes of driving through these picturesque hills with views that somehow get better and better until you pull up to the Tasting Lodge.
At the Tasting Lodge you may be greeted by Jennie Hess, the Director of Hospitality, or Cate McDowell, Assistant Tasting Lodge and Social Media Manager on the estate. The recently renovated tasting room, Jennie said, was originally built in 1950 as a bunkhouse for laborers picking the apples that used to grow in the orchards on the ridge.
The new renovation kept the vintage bones of the bunkhouse while blowing out massive windows and adding accordion glass that open to the view and breezes. “We’ve been able to have them open nearly every day this year,” said Jennie. It’s that consistent breeze and more temperate climate that the grapes like so much, too.
The building, with its fireplaces inside and out, shaded patio, and thoughtful furniture has inviting spaces to gather with friends or in groups. It looks as if it were plucked out of Napa Valley and set down in North Carolina, but even Napa couldn’t come close to creating an experience this intimately scaled.
Before you visit the estate, be sure to call ahead or book online as space is limited.
Bordeaux-Inspired Wines at the Lake
Those cool breezes that blow into the tasting room are part of the wine at Dynamis, just as much as the soil and the grapes.
“Grapevines like a site with a view,” said Joseph Geller, Vineyard Manager. “Our vineyard is at 1,640 feet and gets a steady breeze, which grapes like. Our rocky soil and the way it drains, make it ideal for producing high-quality fruit.”
Joseph shared a little of the history of the property and its former life as an apple orchard. “If apple trees grow well in a spot, vines will too,” he said. This ridgeline has the ideal terroir and climate just right to grow grapes you’d find in Bordeaux. And that’s where Dynamis excels, at creating big, bold red wines.
The estate is currently offering tastings and selling of five wines, with more to come in future vintages.
2020 Sauvignon Blanc
The well-drained rocky soil below these vines along with a gentle winemaking approach offer a true concentration of the varietal expression.
The superior finesse of this wine makes it easy to drink as layers of red and dark fruits unfold. It is full bodied with a strong granular tannin structure perfectly balanced in a gentle aging process.
2019 Cabernet Sauvignon
This wine comes from the nine acres of Cabernet Sauvignon and showcases the boldness of the mountain where it is grown. It is a deep, ruby red with a velvety structure and ripe flavor profile.
This blend is an elegant expression of the land, with complex layers. The backbone of this bold yet supple blend is cabernet sauvignon providing abundant textural tannins. This wine will continue to evolve with age.
This is the powerful expression of the land, the flagship of the Dynamis Estate Wines that comprise the very best of the vintage. Dynamis is defined as limitless power, and this confident full-bodied blend exemplifies the strength to the mountain’s terroir. It is the 2022 winner in the NC Fine Wines Society competition.
The wine tasting experience is choreographed to honor the quality of the grapes and the terroir. You’ll find wherever you sit for the tasting more than comfortable, with a fireplace and blankets for chilly days or fresh air and comfy chairs on the terrace overlooking the vineyards. Even the wine chiller and spitoon for emptying wine glasses are made by local ceramics artists and reflect the quality of the experience.
For food, a local farm-to-table cafe has created grazing boxes and snacks like hummus or cheese. They include thoughtful touches like peach chutney made with peaches from the estate.
The Dynamis Winemaking Process
Dynamis wines are grown, aged, and bottled and go from vine to wine all at the estate. Owning the entire process not only makes this winery unique, but it also allows them to control every aspect of the wine and ensure it is crafted to perfection and purely of the land.
The Dynamis winemaking duo of Katy Kidd and Matheson Worrell blend the time-honored traditions of Europe’s centuries-old winemaking with the most advanced technology available. The modern equipment is the same tech used at the Opus One, an elite tier winery in Napa Valley.
During aging, reds ferment in handmade French Oak that breathes naturally before aging in French Oak barrels built new for each vintage. Whites are aged and fermented in egg-shaped concrete vessels based on early Greco-Roman designs, whose oval shape lets the wine swirl and flow naturally.
You’ll learn about that and about grapes, fermenting, and bottling when you visit the estate for a 60 or 90-minute private tasting led by one of the knowledgeable and friendly wine ambassadors. You may even choose to join their wine club, which for now releases two wine packages a year. Dymanis can ship your wine, but most of the members choose to follow that 10-minute drive up the mountain and along the picturesque ridge to the tasting house to pick it up themselves. Most will linger to open one or more of their bottles to relax on the patio or one of the other inviting spaces in the tasting house.
Plan Your Visit
Dynamis Estate Wines is open 11am-5pm Wed-Sat and 12-5pm Sun for wine tastings by reservation. Call in advance or reserve a tasting online at dynamisestatewines.com. All guests must be 21 years old as they are a private estate and working vineyard. Light snacks from the local farm-to-table cafe The Barking Coyote Kitchen are available.
Dynamis Estate Wines is located at 1004 Highland Road Jonesville, NC 28642 336-468-6702