2021 Schedule – updated June 29, 2021
Annual Meeting and Registration, Friday, September 17th
Registration on Friday evening, September 17th, will be held at Blue Ridge Community College Conference Center in Flat Rock, NC. Dinner will be served with wine tasting. Following the annual Society meeting, Joe Forrest will give a short overview presentation on what we will see and learn during the next two days. The evening will conclude with a first for the Carolina Geological Society – interviews via Zoom with Dr. Rainer Kuendig and Dr. Will Finger in Switzerland, and with Dr. Alex Maltman in Wales. In 2018, Kuendig and Finger published a book (“Stein und Wein”) on the relationship of geology to viticulture in Switzerland. Maltman has published numerous papers on the role of geology in viticulture, and his book “Vineyards, Rocks, and Soils: The Wine Lover’s Guide to Geology” (also published in 2018) is a popular examination of the issue. The two books take somewhat differing views on the subject, which is a major theme of this year’s field trip.
In the Field, Saturday, September 18th
On Saturday, September 18th, buses will depart downtown Hendersonville at 8:00am and drive down the Blue Ridge escarpment to the Inner Piedmont region for our first stop at the site of a tragic 2018 landslide in the Pacolet River Valley. The stop provides a fascinating combination of geomorphology and geohazards, viticulture and climatology. Stop #2 will be at Parker-Binns Vineyards, where we will (1) begin our exploration of the origins of the rugged, precipitous Blue Ridge escarpment and its relationship to the Piedmont and Blue Ridge plateau, and (2) have an overview of the complex climate and weather patterns of the southern Blue Ridge and the role they play in viticulture. We will then ascend the Blue Ridge escarpment and take our lunch break at Jackson Park in Hendersonville. Following lunch, Stop #3 will be at Marked Tree Vineyards, which is located directly on the Eastern Continental Divide and illustrates the effects of the breaching of an earlier divide by the Broad River. Stop #4, the final of the day, is at St. Paul Mountain Vineyards and Appalachian Ridge Cidery, where attendees can choose among four activities, including (1) an opportunity to simply sit and enjoy a glass of wine or cider, (2) a relaxing tour of the winery and cidery operations, (3) a more vigorous, but not overly stressful, hike in the cidery orchard with talk on sustainable agriculture by the vineyard/cidery owner, and (4) a talk on the history of viticulture in North Carolina, with emphasis on the fascinating modern phase. This last stop of the day is a great place to rest and enjoy the setting sun before returning to downtown Hendersonville.
In the Field, Sunday, September 19th
On Sunday, September 19th we will depart Hendersonville at 8:30am and drive to the Biltmore Estate Winery, which is the most visited winery in the US. Though thousands of people visit the winery at Biltmore, the estate’s vineyards are not normally accessible to the public, so our visit may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view and learn about an interesting and controversial site. At the end of the visit, the very gracious team at Biltmore will provide us with a wine pouring and toast to the Carolina Geological Society and to North Carolina viticulture. On our way back to Hendersonville we will conclude the excursion with a stop on Point Lookout Mountain for a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge plateau, the Blue Ridge escarpment, and the Eastern Continental Divide. If weather conditions are right, you will have a view of Mount Mitchell, the highest point of the Appalachians, and a final toast to the magnificent beauty of our southern Appalachians.
Possible Additional Stop on Sunday, September 19th Burntshirt Vineyards has invited us to visit its high vineyard (3600’) on the Blue Ridge escarpment. This site is one of the most beautiful vineyards in eastern America (See accompanying picture) and one of the highest, but is not easily accessible, due to the steep and winding dirt trail to the site. We are not sure the school buses we normally use can make this climb. We may be able to hire smaller vans that can accommodate 12-15 passengers and offer an extra stop on Sunday afternoon for those who wish to experience this gorgeous site. There would be an extra fee for this visit to cover costs of the vans. More on this possibility in a later update.