- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014

LEXINGTON, N.C. (AP) - Richard Childress is best known for developing world-renowned race teams, but his name has now become known in a different industry where his demand for perfection has led to a successful winery that is celebrating a major milestone.

Childress Vineyards is holding a variety of special events to pay homage to 10 years of wine making.

“It’s gone by so fast,” Childress said. “It’s been good. Like everyone else, we have been through challenges, but we’ve had so much support from locals in Davidson County and tremendous support from throughout the state.”

As part of its anniversary celebration, the vineyard scheduled a reception Wednesday night with Childress, co-owner Greg Johns and winemaker Mark Friszolowski reflecting on the past and talking about the future. There will be a four-course dinner for Fast Track Wine Club members Friday. At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, 20-Ride, a Zac Brown tribute band, will deliver a concert. Tickets for Saturday’s 20 Ride Concert are $25 per person plus fees/taxes and include a wine tasting and a commemorative wine glass are included.

Childress said he began the winery because of his love for wine. He began by looking at other wineries in California and the Finger Lake area of New York, but he was determined to stay in North Carolina. Johns said Childress had an intuition and forethought to see the economic impact wine would make in North Carolina in the future.

“He had the vision to come here,” Johns said. “Richard had the vision to put his money where his mouth is. It was apparent to us that tobacco was leaving, and being one of the largest agriculture states in the country, something had to take its place. He had the foresight to see that.”

Friszolowski said the wine industry in North Carolina is starting to gain traction and that unlike many other agricultural products, it supports other industries as well.

“You will start to see the economic impact grow,” Friszolowski said. “We have the largest refrigeration company in Mocksville, they are making wine bottles in Hendersonville, the labels are made in Thomasville, and the corks are from Zebulon. All these little things add together. Wine making is not just the grapes; all these other industries feed off us. More than any other industry we rely on cooperation. When you think of Napa you don’t think of just one winery. We want North Carolina wines to be known as a region.”

As part of the celebration, the vineyard will also introduce two new wines in honor of its 10th anniversary. Childress Vineyards will unveil a special sparkling wine featuring a collector’s label commemorating the winery’s first decade. It will also unveil a limited release of a new Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine called Finish Line.

Additional activities are planned during the five-day celebration. The Tasting Room will have $10 tastings for 10 wines and a commemorative wine glass. The vineyard will also have special wine discounts, Cabot cheese tastings, vertical wine tastings, a library wine sale and guided wagon tours of the vineyards.

Childress Vineyards will donate a percentage of sales during the 10th anniversary festivities to the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. For more information about the upcoming celebration events, call 236-9463 or go online at www.childressvineyards.com.

Childress said he is extremely pleased with the success of his winery, but as in the beginning he is more concerned about the quality of the product it makes.

“The reason this winery has survived is the quality of wine Mark has been able to make,” Childress said. “If we had just average wine, we probably would have closed the doors years ago. I built this winery like a race team. On a winning race team you have to have the best. Mark is the driver, he is the guy who drives this business, and we have a lot of other great people on our team who have contributed to our success.”


Information from: The Dispatch, https://www.the-dispatch.com

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