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Surry Cellars Adds New Natural Wine to Offerings


Surry Community College embarked on the design of a new label called Surry Labs in 2019. Wines made under Surry Labs are experimental and unique.

“Our Chambourcin or ‘Chambo’ wine was the perfect candidate for our new label. We set out to produce this wine as a natural wine, which has many definitions,” explained David Bower, Enology Instructor at Surry Community College. “To Surry Cellars, this means there was minimal chemical intervention, and that the wine was un-fined and un-filtered. This wine also underwent stem inclusion and had minor carbonic maceration, a style of winemaking that yields fruit-forward results. The heart of the wine comes from the wonderful fruit straight from the Surry Cellars vineyard.”

Bowers continued, “A pied du cuvée method was used, more commonly known as a ‘build up method,’ to build a natural yeast culture from wild kudzu flowers, dandelion, yeast present on the grape skins, and even stones from the vineyard.”

The grapes were then hand-destemmed and crushed in the vineyard, and the bucket cultures were left to ferment outside for seven days. Following the build-up, cultures were then added to bins of harvested Chambourcin to begin the fermentation. These stylistic choices really help to express the regional terroir of the wine.

“Understanding regional terroir is a logical next step in building quality wines from the Yadkin Valley region; this wine is a true expression of the fruit,” Bower said.

To prove the yeast was truly wild or native, Students in the VEN 283 Wine Production and Analysis course conducted a genetic analysis with the help of ETS Laboratories, a company that specializes in analytical services for the wine industry. When analyzing the data, the dominant strain in the mixed fermentation was not able to be identified in any known yeast database. This lends credence to the wine being a true North Carolina product. After fermentation, the wine spent nine months in neutral French oak barrels.

SCC students Eric Younts and Andre Lamb worked closely on the project. “2019 was a year of a lot of experiments. The whole point was trying to be natural and in tune with our local yeast. With such great fruit, we tried to be as hands off as possible,” the students said.

The wine is made in a French glou-glou style, a style of winemaking that produces an acidic, easy to drink wine with low alcohol and smooth tannins. The wine remains fruit-forward with pronounced characters of the Chambourcin grape.

“The Yadkin Valley terroir is on full display here and makes a wine anyone can enjoy. Unlike most reds, we recommend slightly chilling the wine. Finally, for a wine as funky and charismatic as this, we recommend pairing it with a gamey meat such as veal or venison,” Bower said.

The wine will be available in the Wisdom Table in Elkin and Wine Merchants Gourmet in Winston-Salem. Look for “Chambo” at a store near you in the future.

Viticulture is the study of grape growing, and enology is the study of winemaking. Both areas of study are a part of the Viticulture and Enology program at SCC, which offers the option of a two-year degree and four certificate options in Viticulture, Enology, Wine Marketing, and Tasting Room Operations.

SCC has the only licensed, bonded winery in the Southeast as part of a college educational program. The 2,500-gallon capacity winery has produced wine that has earned 74 medals since 2009, exhibiting the quality of the student vintages. SCC is the only college on the East Coast to teach the production of sparkling wine. The college produces about 1,500 cases of wine per year along with offering instruction for the degree program, continuing education classes, performing applied research, conducting grant work, and hosting an annual wine symposium each November. The 9th Annual Southeastern United Grape & Wine Symposium will be held Nov. 3, 2021.

High school juniors and seniors can take Viticulture classes incorporating vineyard field work with grape science and earn classes toward completing a Viticulture certificate at Surry Community College as a part of the tuition-free, Career & College Promise dual enrollment program.

If you have questions about the program, contact Jeff Jones at (336) 386-3391 or You can also go to For help with college application, class registration or financial aid, contact Student Services at (336) 386-3264 or SCC is currently registering for fall classes. The deadline to register is Aug. 2. Classes start Aug. 16.

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