A ‘someday’ plan becomes reality as a south Charlotte couple opens the region’s newest winery.
by Michael J. Solender
After SouthPark couple Monique and Dave Sullivan discovered their first child was on the way in late 2016, their ‘someday’ plan of owning and operating vineyards and a winery went into overdrive.
“Having a wine estate is something we’d often talked about, though typically in the context of retirement,” says Monique Sullivan, 32. “Upon learning we were expecting, my husband and I came to the realization that we wanted to have something our daughter could grow up with and experience together with us.”
The Sullivans’ rapidly expedited dream, christened Veronét Vineyards & Winery, opens this fall in Kings Mountain, just 30 miles west of Charlotte. The name is an amalgam of their mothers’ names.
Nestled in the North Carolina foothills, the 70-acre tract currently has 5 acres “under vine,” a large California rustic-style tasting room, picnic areas and event space to comfortably accommodate groups of up to 250 for weddings, dinners, reunions and gatherings.
“My love for wine evolves from my love of food and an evolution from that,” Sullivan says. “I grew up in a Peruvian family where food and entertaining were the name of the game, and culinary influences are very important. My cultural perspective is [that] food and wine are a celebration of life.”
Sullivan said her mother was excited to share her love of wine with her and ignited her passion to explore and learn more about the joys of the grape. Connections with wine-industry friends in California and several trips to Napa and Sonoma fueled her interest to learn more. She’s achieved a level 3 (advanced) certification from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, an internationally recognized wine education organization for industry professionals.
Taking one’s passion for wine to executing a three-year plan building a fully operational winery from scratch might strike many as folly, yet Sullivan was undeterred.
“I have a business background, and my husband is an aerospace engineer,” says Sullivan, who is co-owner of a language-translation service. “We’ve approached this cautiously and with a great deal of planning and analysis. … We see the popularity of the brewery scene and want to create that same kind of environment with our winery for the Charlotte area.”
Sullivan engaged viticulture consultants and other advisers in conducting soil, water and topographic analysis to determine planting areas and which varietals would grow best at the estate. “We feature a young style of easy-drinking wines meant to be consumed upon purchase or within three to five years,” she says. Most bottles will sell in the $20-$30 range.
Veronét grows three distinct varietals: chambourcin, a French hybrid that delivers a medium-bodied red table wine; viognier, a French white that produces both sweet and dry wines; and cabernet franc.
The vines were planted in 2018 and are set to yield their first harvest in the fall of 2021. In the interim, the winery is partnering with winemakers in California and Virginia to produce wines under Sullivan’s direction and in the style Veronét will be making. Initially, eight bottles will be available in the tasting room.
“Wine is memory making and always tastes better in the vineyards,” Sullivan says. Veronét plans to offer Food Truck Fridays, special tasting events and a seasonal calendar of activities to encourage frequent visits. “We have a comfortable, family-friendly and casual atmosphere out here where people can picnic, enjoy a nice wine, talk with us about the process and share a great experience. We want people to come and enjoy.” SP