Every Friday on social media, we post a Farm Feature Friday showcasing one of our dedicated North Carolina farmers. Elizabeth Dover of Dover Vineyards is one of those farmers. The #FarmFeatureFriday campaign will run through December 2021 on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Be sure to tune in each Friday afternoon on social and help show your support for our local farmers!
Although most of her family grew up farming, Elizabeth Dover never pictured herself as a farmer until she saw a special on PBS on winemaking that peaked her interest. “Most of my family, including my grandparents, grew up farming but I was the exception,” Elizabeth said, “but I enjoy being outside, and when I saw the PBS special, I figured a vineyard would be a good way to utilize my grandparents land.” Thus, in 2009, Dover Vineyards in Concord was born, featuring Chambourcin and Villard Blanc grapes. “I take pride in making wines that compete with other regions of the world,” Elizabeth said, “and both of these grapes produce a very high quality wine and are highly disease resistant.”
In addition to their seven acres of vineyard, the farm also grows six acres of various vegetables, including radishes, squash, tomatoes and kale. “That very first year I grew way to many radishes,” Elizabeth said, “in fact, we couldn’t sell them all, so I ended up eating radishes for a month straight. Needless to say I found a variety of new ways to use them!”
A typical day on the farm varies from season to season and involves a lot of responsibilities that Elizabeth classifies as less than glorious. “We weed a lot around both of our vines and our vegetables because we do not use any herbicides,” she said, “I hope to one day minimize our amount of weeding and mowing, but right now it is necessary to produce the high quality product that we promise to our customers.”
Dover Vineyards partners with Childress Vineyards to crush their grapes and make their wines. “I worked as a winemaker for a few years at facilities across North Carolina so I knew the people at Childress fairly well,” Elizabeth said, “and when I decided to make the switch from winemaker to vineyard owner, they were more than willing to accommodate us by allowing us to use their facility to crush our grapes.” Many of Elizabeth’s weekends are spent at wine tasting events and farmers markets interacting with customers and selling the wine she is incredibly proud of.
Although finding employees to help her with the farm work can be difficult, Elizabeth says she takes immense pride in both eating and selling her products at the end of the day. “Having an entire meal in front of you that was grown from your own hard work, or the hard work of farmers near you, is incredibly rewarding,” she said.
Products from Dover Vineyards can be found at Local Loaf and The Common Market in Charlotte. For those interested in purchasing wine from Dover Vineyards, Elizabeth recommends visiting the farm for a tasting and purchasing your bottle directly on site. “When you come to the farm for a tasting, you have the opportunity to try a variety of our wines, figure out which one is your favorite, and buy it directly from the vineyard,” she said. Her favorite is the 2017 Villard Blanc because it has a well-balanced citrus flavor. “It’s distinctive but not offensive,” she said.
They also offer several other events on the farm that will give you an excuse to visit, including yoga and cooking classes. “Our farm shelter provides a very relaxing atmosphere beside a koi pond with lilies,” Elizabeth said, “all of our cooking classes feature farm-to-table ingredients and every yoga class ends with a glass of wine.”
She believes eating local is incredibly important not only because it shows support for our neighbors, but also because, in her words, “people don’t realize how vulnerable they are when they are disconnected from their food source.”
In the future, Elizabeth hopes to build a tasting room on site at the vineyard where she can continue to provide high-quality wine to her customers. When she is not farming, you can find Elizabeth curled up on the couch, with a glass of wine enjoying a British murder mystery.