Annual Meeting and Registration, Friday, September 17th
Registration on Friday evening, September 17th, will be held at Burntshirt Vineyards. Dinner will be served with wine tasting. Following the annual Society meeting excursion leaders will present (1) an overview of what we will see and learn during the next two days, (2) a review of the history of viticulture in North Carolina, and (3) a talk on the fascinating natural history of the Blue Ridge Escarpment and conservation/preservation efforts within this beautiful and rugged but poorly-understood feature.
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 Parker-Binns Vineyards, where we will begin our exploration of the origins of the rugged, precipitous Blue Ridge escarpment and its relationship to the Piedmont and Blue Ridge plateau. If time permits, we will make a short stop at a particularly tragic landslide site in Tryon, NC, following which we climb back up the escarpment to Marked Tree Vineyards. This young vineyard is located directly on the Eastern Continental Divide and illustrates the effects of the breaching of an earlier divide by the Broad River. A box lunch will be served at the Carl Sandburg National Historical Site in Flat Rock, NC. On our way to St. Paul Mountain Farms, we will make a stop to view geomorphic evidence of headward erosion and capture of the Broad River. Three optional activities are planned at St. Paul Mountain, including an opportunity to simply sit and enjoy the company of other participants with a glass of wine or cider, or a relaxing tour of the winery and cidery operations, or a more vigorous, but not overly stressful, hike in the cidery orchard with talk on sustainable agriculture by the vineyard/cidery owner. 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 8:00am 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. 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 the southern Appalachians.
Possible Additional Stop on Sunday, September 19th We are trying to arrange a visit to Burntshirt’s 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 isolated site. We are not sure the school buses we normally use for transportation 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.