When most Americans think of wineries, they think of California. If they are from North Carolina, they perhaps think of western North Carolina’s vineyards. But did you know that eastern North Carolina was once a hub of wineries in early America? Did you know that North Carolina once produced more wine than any other state?
Come to the Local and State History Room at Headquarters Library at noon on Saturday, Dec. 9, to learn about the fascinating history of wine production in Cumberland County. An expert from the Fayetteville History Museum will talk about the history of wineries in Cumberland County and how they influenced the surrounding region. The library is located at 300 Maiden Lane.
Eastern North Carolina was the leading producer of wine throughout the 1840s and 1850s. The sandy soil of the eastern part of the state was particularly conducive to growing grapes. This same sandy soil where tobacco flourished was well suited to growing specific grapes such as the Scuppernong, which is the most common wine grape that was grown in the region. Before the Civil War, there were at least 25 wineries in eastern North Carolina, including Tokay Vineyard in Cumberland County.
If you drive around Fayetteville today, you will notice streets with wine-related names such as Tokay and Bordeaux. That’s because wine was a substantial industry in the area over 120 years ago. The most prominent vineyard in the region was Tokay Vineyard, which is now a collection of homes north of the Veterans Administration Hospital on Ramsey Street. The vineyard was run by Col. Wharton Greene after the Civil War. It was said to be the largest vineyard east of the Rocky Mountains and produced up to 100,000 gallons of wine per year.
There were two other smaller vineyards in Fayetteville — the 25-acre Happy Valley vineyard near where Ramsey Street and Rose Hill Road intersect today, and the Bordeaux vineyard. However, when prohibition swept Cumberland County in 1901, the wineries whittled away and never came back. There are no current wineries in the county. Residents in the Tokay area have reported finding grapes still growing if you know where to look.
For more information about this or any other library program, please call (910) 483-7727, stop in at any of our eight locations or visit cumberlandcountync.gov/library.
For details about this and all library programming stop in at any of our eight locations, call us at 910-483-7727 or visit www.cumberlandcountync.gov/library.
Joseph Westendorf is the Local & State Department Manager for the Cumberland County Public Library.