Of all the wineries in Upstate South Carolina and Western North Carolina, there’s one thing that the new Eagle Mountain Winery has that no one else does. That something is winemaker George Bursick. Eagle Mountain’s director of winemaking, who hails from Sonoma County, California, is a master of his trade. One of the country’s most highly acclaimed winemakers, Bursick spent 20 years heading the wine program at Ferrari-Carano in Healdsburg, during which time he oversaw the expansion of their production from 5,000 to 500,000 cases a year and reaped myriad accolades for his wines.
“The South has never had a winemaker with the experience and accomplishments of George Bursick,” crows Eagle Mountain’s president, Russ Gardiner. “He will instantly raise the bar for premium and ultra-premium wines being produced in the South.”
You can taste six of those wines beginning on June 20, the day of Eagle Mountain’s grand opening. Though the 54-acre site now includes plantings of mildew-resistant cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and malbec, those vines will not bear sufficient fruit for several years. In the interim, Bursick will make wines in California to serve at Eagle Mountain. To start, he will offer three whites (an Alexander Valley chardonnay, and a pinot gris and sauvignon blanc, both from Napa Valley) and three reds (a Napa cabernet sauvignon, a zinfandel from Lodi, and a Sonoma Coast pinot noir).
I only produce the highest quality [wines]. That’s been my dream, my avocation, my life, my career—and my pressure.
Whether making wine with grapes from California or Travelers Rest, Bursick concentrates on body. “Everything we’ll be offering will be sexy, thick, voluptuous, mouth-watering,” he says. “I only produce the highest quality [wines]. That’s been my dream, my avocation, my life, my career—and my pressure.”
Art is the fourth element of the Eagle Mountain experience. Paintings by James Armstrong decorate the walls of the tasting room, while sculptures by the likes of area artists Bob Doster and Tim Chorbadjian edge a walking trail alongside a tranquil stream. It’s all part of the winery’s sylvan sculpture garden, which will eventually display 75 works, from artists near and far.
At the grand opening, singer/songwriter Karl Lauber will perform on the patio, wine will flow, food trucks will be on-site, and charcuterie will be available for sale—presented in COVID-sensitive sealed boxes. Summer weekends will blend in ongoing events, such as Music on the Mountain every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, yoga by a waterfall on weekend mornings, and wine and cheese tastings led by Christian Hansen of Blue Ridge Creamery beginning at 4pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday.
Next year, when the winery’s outdoor amphitheater is completed, Gardiner hopes to bring in some big names for alfresco concerts. So, who knows, you just might catch George Bursick—who’s been playing drums since he was eight years old—realizing his wish to back up Edwin McCain.
Eagle Mountain Vineyards and Winery, 2330 Hwy 11, Travelers Rest. (864) 747-0336, eaglemountainwinery.com; beginning June 20, open daily, noon–6pm.