What started as a retirement hobby is now a major part of North Carolina’s “wine country.”
In 2007, Bob and Karen Binns bought the first piece of land that became Parker-Binns Vineyard. Growing grapes as a hobby. That was the plan, anyway, according to the owner and founder Bob Binns.
“Our plan was to spend four or five months a year and then go back to Florida. Then we heard about growing grapes, and we were in the nursery business, and we figure we can grow grapes and sell them to the Biltmore.”
But the Biltmore wasn’t taking on new grape suppliers during the recession of 2008. However, grapes for Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were ready.
“We started making wine with them. Karen and I made the wine. She made hers and I made mine, and hers was so much better than mine I said what the heck am I making it for, you make it. So she became the winemaker.”
A breast cancer survivor, Karen’s battle led to the hiring of current winemaker Justin Taylor, setting the stage for growth.
“Actually it’s a hobby out of control…that’s what I like to tell people”, Karen said.
“We’ve added Petit Manseng which is our signature white grape, we have Petit Verdot we have Muscat. This past year we added Vidal Blanc, we added Malbec, and we have Chambourcin also.”
People aren’t the only ones who want the products from these grapes. Some pesky critters do as well. As a result, artificial bird noise is piped in to keep those critters away from the vines.
Vines that supply wines also supply funds for man’s best friend. All in the name of Lulu, the vineyard’s rescue dog who has her signature wines.
“She’s a mutt so we do blends. She has her white, she has a red, and she has a rose’.”
A portion of each bottle of Loco Lulu sold goes to local animal rescue organizations.
All at a location that’s hard to beat. Something Karen sees every day.
“It’s very rewarding to look out over my porch and see just what we’ve created. Because it’s very peaceful, it’s very beautiful, and people come and have a wonderful time, and we’re happy to share it.”