Winston Salem Visitor Guide - 2018 - 41
MARK FRISZOLOWSKI CHAMPIONS
NORTH CAROLINA WINE AT
BY: LEAH HUGHES
for nearly 15 years, Mark Friszolowski has worked to
make world-class wines in the Yadkin Valley and put
the region on the map as a wine destination.
Friszolowski became the winemaker at Childress
Vineyards in 2003, a year before the winery opened and the
same year the Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA)
was established. He had worked in some of the most wellrespected wine regions in the world, including Bordeaux, France;
South Africa; and Sonoma, California. Before coming to North
Carolina, Friszolowski returned to his native New York as a
winemaker at Pindar Vineyards for 17 years, helping grow the
winery from 12 acres to more than 1,000.
When he received a call about a winery project in North
Carolina, he initially wasn't interested. "Why would I want to go
to North Carolina?" he says. "There's no wine in North Carolina."
But the more he learned about the plans of NASCAR team
owner and North Carolina native Richard Childress, Friszolowski
realized it would allow him to be a pioneer in an up-and-coming
wine region. Childress shared with Friszolowski his passion for
wine and this area of North Carolina, and that combination
inspired Friszolowski to make the move.
"My wife said, 'Where are we going?' And I showed her a map,"
says Friszolowski, who has three sons. "We now live 13 minutes from
the winery and 13 minutes from Fourth Street in Winston-Salem."
Childress Vineyards grows a dozen varieties of Vitis vinifera
grapes on two vineyard plots. Childress wines include the
bold, dry reds that Childress and Friszolowski and other wine
enthusiasts enjoy, as well as a variety of whites and even a few
sweet labels using native muscadine grapes.
"The ultimate goal is to find out what grapes grow best here,
and that takes years and years and years," Friszolowski says. "The
wines that establish us as a region might not be the ones that are
the best-sellers now, but the ones that are the most consistent."
Friszolowski takes pride in making wine for 29 smaller
vineyards in the area, a mutually beneficial effort that helps the
small players run successful businesses and strengthens the
Yadkin Valley brand.
"When you think about the wine regions of the world -
Argentina, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Napa - there's no one single
winery that emerges," Friszolowski says. "The importance is the
winery cluster. When people think of the Yadkin Valley, we want
them to say, 'Oh yeah, they make good wine.'"
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