The New Muscadine Wines of North Carolina’s Cypress Bend

Dan and Tina Smith have cultivated 35 acres of muscadine cultivars (Carlos, Noble and Magnolia) near Wagram for several years. In 2005 they opened the doors of their winery to the public with the goal to produce modern, dry table wines from muscadine cultivars.

We met Dan and Tina on our recent wine tasting trip to North Carolina along with winemaker Nadia Hetzel, who learned winemaking at Gesenheim and made wines in Germany.  She says the high sugar and acidity of muscadine is similar to that of Riesling. Nadia crafted Catherine, the wine that won the Muscadine Cup at the 2018 North Carolina State Fair.  Annual production is 7 thousand cases. We provide our observations on Cypress’ muscadine based wines below, but since our experience with muscadine wines is very limited we do not give them scores. All the wines are priced at $12 per bottle.

Winemaker Nadia Hetzel

Keep an eye out for our forthcoming report on The Wines of North Carolina, which includes reviews of many more fine wines from throughout the state.

The Wines

Cypress Bend Vineyards NV Riverton Estate North Carolina A dry Muscadine made with the free run juice of the Carlos grape. Assertive aromas that evoke fresh Concord grapes that also show on the palate along with hints of caramel and gooseberry. One taster who chewed lots of gum in her youth says it reminds her of Bazooka bubble gum, which she still loves, so that’s not a bad thing. A pretty assertive wine, and the winery suggests pairing it with aged cheeses.

Cypress Bend Vineyards NV Livy Estate North Carolina   A just off dry white made from the Carlos grape, this is a more subdued and complex wine than the Riverton Estate. It shows very ripe apricot on the nose and a good mix of fruit and spice on the palate with notes of lime, pineapple and Concord again.  Well balanced with a dry finish.

Cypress Bend Vineyards NV Catherine North Carolina Medium gold. Catherine offers an effusive bouquet of herbs and orange marmalade. While off-dry, the wine is balanced with complex cooking spice notes complementing tropical fruit, finishing long and dry with good extract. The winemaker recommends having this with rich, creamy Brie. Not a bad idea!

Cypress Bend Vineyards NV To-Morrow North Carolina   A sweet wine made from a blend of Carlos and Magnolia grapes.  Showing some citrus notes–mandarin, cured lemon, and bitter orange all come to mind, the To-Morrow has good concentration and some savory notes. Finishes with sweet fruit that some may find a bit cloying.  You have to like sweet table wines to like To-Morrow. Fermented with an Alsatian yeast used for Riesling.

Cypress Bend Vineyards NV Noble North Carolina   A dry red made from a blend of the Noble and Carlos grapes barrel aged in French oak after extended fermentation on the skins.  Very fragrant, showing dark red fruit—huckleberry, cranberry and sour cherry all come to mind. Dense on the palate with a tangy edge, a touch of spritz, and a very dry finish.

Cypress Bend Vineyards NV Sundown North Carolina   Made from Noble grapes soaked overnight, then fermented with a Rhone style yeast with frequent punch downs. Aromas of red berries and cherries. Very fruity, soft palate with prominent ripe strawberry notes and very bright acidity.


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