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September 4, 2009, Andrews, NC -- All of the wines submitted by Calaboose Cellars received awards at the 2009 Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine
Competition being held at the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem, NC. And for the first time in its second year of selling wine, the smallest
complete, free-standing winery in the America took home a gold medal.
Revinoor's Red, a fruity, semi-sweet wine made from Concord grapes, won a Gold Medal in the Sweet Other Red Category. Revinoor's Red had
earlier won bronze medals at the 2008 Wines of the South and the 2009 Finger Lakes Competitions.
Wardin's White, a smooth semi-sweet wine made from Diamond Grapes, won a Silver Medal and was also tied for the highest rank in the Semi-Sweet
Blend Category. Wardin's White is the Andrews winery's most decorated wine with a total of six medals, including other Silver Medals at the
2008 Wines of the South Competition and the 2009 Finger Lakes Wine Competition.
Up the River Strawberry-Rhubarb, a 50/50 blend of both ingredients, won a Silver Medal in the Fruit Blends Category. That is the highest award
this wine has won in three competitions.
In the varietal categories, the 2008 Chambourcin won its first medal, a Bronze, which was the highest rank given in its category. Also, the
2008 Seyval won Bronze in the Seyval Blanc Category.
This brings the tiny Andrews winery's medal total up to 20 between this competition, the 2009 Finger Lakes Wine Competition, the 2009 Indy Wine
Competition, the 2009 International Eastern Wine Competition, the 2008 NC State Fair, and last fall's Wines of the South Competition. Calaboose
Cellars is in its second year of selling wine after receiving their federal and state permits in July 2007.
The Dixie Classic Fair is the second largest agricultural Fair in North Carolina and is owned and operated by the City of Winston-Salem, N.C.
"We had an exceptional group of commercial and amateur wineries turn out for the competition this year," said Jim Collins, Dixie
Classic Fair Wine Superintendent. "Many new and unique blends were awarded for creativity and timeless distinction." In the six-state,
mid-Atlantic southeastern region, 47 commercial and 21 amateur wineries selected their best contenders to be judged during the competition which
was held Aug. 21-22. From those wineries, a variety of 482 wines were entered – the largest number of wine entries in the history of the
from The Andrews Journal, July 23, 2009
When Eric and Judy Carlson moved to Andrews from New Hampshire in 2004, they did it because they were fond of the region's cost of living,
climate and proximity to some of their family members.
Five years later, they've discovered another perk about their location – it's an ideal place to start a winery.
The Carlsons' Calaboose Cellars winery celebrated its two-year anniversary on July 3. According to the Carlsons, the first two years in the
life of Andrews' only winery have exceeded even their own expectations.
"Last year we sold 200 cases – this year we're on pace to double that," Mr. Carlson said, adding his business has grown exponentially
despite the closing of the Cole House – one of the winery's biggest customers last year.
"We've also been very well received at various wine competitions around the eastern United States," he said. Calaboose Cellars has
sent wines to six competitions since opening its doors and won medals in all six, including a silver medal for its Seyval Blanc at last October's
N.C. State Fair. It was the highest-ranked Seyval at the fair.
Calaboose Cellars owner Eric Carlson holds a bottle of his flagship red wine, Chambourcin. The winery recently celebrated its second
anniversary and is on pace to double sales from last summer.
The winery's sudden success is astonishing considering the serendipitous origins of the business venture. The Carlsons have been making wine
sporadically since the 1990s – but as a hobby, not a profession. In 2006, Eric planted his first grapes since heading south and was amazed at
"I quickly realized how well the grapes were doing so I sent some samples to the extension office in Raleigh, and they told me how perfect
the soil and climate here are for growing grapes," Carlson said. He said he and his wife were originally planning to grow grapes just for
themselves, but after finding out how productive the Andrews Valley could be for the wine business, they decided starting a winery would be a
The quick success of Calaboose Cellars has allowed the Carlsons to expand their operation this summer. They recently rented one-third of an acre
from Frank and Erla Jones and planted four rows of Seyval and Chambourcin grapes. That property is also home to an abundance of wild blackberries
the Carlsons pick for their popular Jailbird Blackberry wine.
Carlson said planting on the Jones' property is helping fulfill his aspirations of having the wines of Calaboose Cellars come exclusively from
the Andrews Valley. In order to do that, the Carlsons have focused their production on wines made from French-American grapes. "A lot of
the grapes people have heard of won't ripen here, so we grow French-American hybrid grapes, and we're committed to them. That's all we've planted
in our new vineyard," Carlson said.
Calaboose Cellars owner Eric Carlson sits in his golf cart next to the new rows of Seyval and Chambourcin grapes his winery recently planted
as part of their expansion this summer.
Despite this year's expansion, Calaboose Cellars – which is housed in Andrews' original town jail and is the smallest complete freestanding
winery in the country – will stay small, at least for the immediate future. "There are more people in Andrews growing grapes this year
that we will buy next year, and that will put our winery at capacity," Carlson said. "We'll stay small, because that's all we can
afford right now. We use 160-gallon tanks, which they don't even have in big wineries."
The winery is currently open one day a week – on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – but the small scale of their current operation doesn't mean
the Carlsons don't have big plans further along the horizon. "Ten years from now, I see us having built a large winery, and what our winery
is now will just be a tasting room," Carlson said.
May 26, 2009, Andrews, NC -- Competing with over 2,500 wines, Calaboose Cellars won two bronze medals. Receiving a bronze medal was Wardin's
[sic] White, a smooth semi-sweet wine made from Diamond Grapes. Wardin's White has now won four medals: silver medals at the 2008 Wines
of the South Competition and the 2009 Finger Lakes Wine Competition, and a bronze medal at the 2008 NC State Fair.
Also receiving a bronze medal was the popular Up The River Strawberry-Rhubarb wine. This was the first time this wine was entered in a
competition but it won't be the last. Over the last year, it has been a top selling wine for Calaboose Cellars.
This brings the tiny Andrews winery's medal total up to twelve between this competition, the 2009 Finger Lakes Wine Competition, the 2008 NC
State Fair, and last fall's Wines of the South Competition. Calaboose Cellars is in its second year of selling wine after receiving their
federal and state permits in July 2007.
One of the oldest and largest competitions in the United States, this event is held each May in the Finger Lakes region of New York, topping over
2,200 entries in recent years with wines from 16 countries and 34 states. The IEWC has earned a well-justified reputation for the quality of its
organization, judgments and awards. Wines in any given flight may be entered from around the world. Judges are wine-knowledgeable professionals,
media specialists, and winemakers who represent major east coast markets from Miami to Toronto. Bronze medals require a unanimous panel vote for
bronze, so any winning medals in the IEWC are worthy of merit.
March 30, 2009, Andrews, NC --
Competing with 2,606 wines from 543 wineries worldwide, Calaboose Cellars won three medals including one silver and two bronze awards.
Receiving a silver medal was Wardin's [sic] White, a smooth semi-sweet wine made from Diamond Grapes. Of the twelve Diamond wines entered
in the competition, Wardin's White tied for the highest honor with Goose Watch Winery, Romulus, NY, whose Diamond won a 2009 Gold Medal &
"Best of Class" in the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and Liberty Vineyards & Winery, Sheridan, NY, whose Diamond won a 2009
Double Gold, Best of Appellation by Appellation America -- some pretty impressive company.
This makes Wardin's White the most decorated wine offered by Calaboose Cellars. It won a silver medal at the 2008 Wines of the South Competition
after winning a bronze medal at the 2008 NC State Fair.
Bronze medals were awarded to Jailbird Blueberry -- a first time medal winner, as well as Revinoor's [sic] Red which is made from
Concord Grapes and also won a bronze medal at the Wines of the South Competition.
This brings the tiny Andrews winery's medal total up to ten between this competition, the 2008 NC State Fair, and last fall's Wines of the
South Competition. Calaboose Cellars is in its second year of selling wine after receiving their federal and state permits in July 2007.
The Ninth Annual Finger Lakes International Wine Competition took place on Saturday and Sunday, March 28-29, 2009. National and international
judges, representing distributors, educators, enologists, sommeliers, restaurateurs, winemakers, and writers, from six countries and twelve
states, evaluated the entries.
A record number of wines had been entered from a record number of wineries for the competition. The Finger Lakes International Wine Competition,
the world's largest charitable wine competition, was open to all commercial wineries from all wine-producing countries and 2,606 wines from 543
wineries, representing 13 countries, 39 states, and 5 Canadian Provinces had been entered.
March 26, 2009, Andrews, NC -- While visitors explore the mountains and natural beauty of Western North Carolina onboard the Great Smoky Mountains
Railroad this year, they will be able to enjoy a glass of wine from local winery Calaboose Cellars. Located just 40 minutes from the Bryson City
Depot in Andrews, NC, Calaboose Cellars is the country's smallest, free-standing, complete winery.
Award-winning wines will be featured on the excursions: a semi-sweet red and white as well as the very popular Up the River Strawberry-Rhubarb.
Calaboose Cellars received a silver medal at the 2008 Wines of the South Competition as well as a bronze medal at the 2008 North Carolina State
Fair for their Wardin's [sic] White, a semi-sweet wine made from Diamond Grapes. A bronze medal was awarded to their Revinoor's
[sic] Red, which is made from Concord Grapes.
Visit www.gsmr.com more information on the railroad's schedules and events.
Not all by itself.
February 25, 2009 -- Today we plowed our rows at our new vineyard. Well actually our friend, Carroll, did. Next month we'll (he'll) subsoil it
and then disc it smooth.
March 4, 2009 -- Today we limed the vineyard to try to keep the vines happy. We picked up rocks too, although we're not sure why.
We'll be planting Chambourcin and Seyval in May.
December 4, 2008, Andrews, NC -- Competing with 433 wines from thirteen southern states, Calaboose Cellars won four medals including one silver
and three bronze awards.
Receiving a silver medal was Wardin's [sic] White, a smooth semi-sweet made from Diamond Grapes. Bronze medals were awarded to the 2007
Seyval and Catawba, as well as Revinoor's [sic] Red which is made from Concord Grapes.
This brings the tiny Andrews winery's fall medal total up to seven between this competition and the 2008 NC State Fair. Calaboose Cellars is
in its first year of selling wine after receiving their federal and state permits in July 2007.
October 13, 2008, Andrews, NC -- On October 10th, Margo Knight Metzger, executive director NC Wine & Grape Council, announced the winners
of the 9th Annual NC State Fair Wine Competition, held October 8-9 in Raleigh. Vying for top honors were 307 wines submitted by 41 NC
The state's smallest winery, Calaboose Cellars in Andrews, NC, won the highest award for one of the state's most popular French hybrid
winegrapes, Seyval Blanc. Calaboose Cellars earned a silver medal while the other wineries Seyval entries collected bronze medals.
Calaboose Cellars was also honored with a silver medal for their 2007 Catawba. Catawba, an historically-important variety for North Carolina,
originated in the state's Piedmont region and was named after the nearby Catawba River. No other Catawba wines won medals at this year's fair.
Three panels of professional judges evaluated wines and awarded 24 double gold, 29 gold, 97 silver, and 94 bronze medals. Competitions were
open only to North Carolina winemakers, and commercial entries had to be submitted by bonded NC wineries. The state is home to 76 commercial
wineries and several more are expected to open within the next year.
Calaboose Cellars won a total of three medals at this years state fair. Childress Vineyards took home the NC Winegrowers Cup and Best of Show
honors with their 2006 Cabernet Franc and led the medal count with 33 awards. Biltmore Winery, the next winery East of Calaboose Cellars, won
30 medals including Best Sparkling Wine for their Reserve Blanc de Blanc NC 2006.
For a complete listing of this year's winners, see
October 15, 2008, Andrews, NC -- In the spirit of altruism, Cherokee County's two wineries, the only NC wineries West of Biltmore, made sure that all of the
county's winegrapes were put to use this month.
On October 2nd the Appalachian State University mobile winery lab
visited Cherokee County to provide the, as of yet, free service of testing finished wines and wine in process for Andrews residents Eric and
Judy Carlson of Calaboose Cellars and William Reece of Valley River Vineyards. While their wines were being tested, Mr. Reece described to
the Carlsons that he had additional grapes in the vineyard that he could not use as his winery had reached full production capacity for this
season's harvest. Could Calaboose Cellars put those grapes to use?
At dawn the next morning, the Carlson family met Mr. Reece at his vineyards and picked the remaining 400 pounds of ripe Chambourcin grapes --
a very popular hybrid in North Carolina where a shorter growing season is of concern.
No money changed hands that day. Just the unselfish concern for each other and the interest in putting all of the county's available resource
Later that same day, the crew at Calaboose Cellars picked another 750 pounds of Chambourcin at the Carlson's small vineyard.
"The wines are finishing the fermentation process right now," Eric stated. "We are processing the two wines separately for the
time being. Actually we have split our own lot into two batches to evaluate two different yeast strains. We will probably combine all of
them later, but it is interesting to follow the path of slightly different fruit, as well as our internal yeast study. The color in Mr.
Reece's wine is fantastic."
Yadkin Valley's On The Vine July/August 2008
North Carolina Viogniers meet the On The Vine Panel of Tasters -- Calaboose Cellars' Watchtower White was awarded the third best of those
in the taste-off.
Asheville's Rapid River Magazine July 2008, by Michael Parker
Eric Carlson knew his 50th birthday was a big deal. To make it so, he opened one of the smallest commercial wineries in America, in a little old
building on his property.
He could have bought himself a Corvette, he admits, but his passion for wine and a germinal friendship with an experienced North Carolina
winemaker led him instead down a nobler road.
Eric and his wife Judy operate Calaboose Cellars in the Cherokee County town of Andrews, 13 miles north of Murphy. The 300 square foot stone
building was built in the 1930's and became the town's very first jail, the first calaboose in Andrews. The bars are still on the windows.
Western North Carolina's WNC Magazine April 2008
To celebrate his 50th birthday this spring, Eric Carlson could have bought a Corvette, but his desire for a new challenge and passion for wine led
him, instead, down a road that landed him in jail.
Eric and his wife, Judy, operate Calaboose Cellars, one of America's smallest wineries located in the Cherokee County town of Andrews. The
300-square-foot stone building, with the original bars over the windows, was the town's first jail, built in the 1930's.