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  • Delayne Martin

Laurel Haven Estate

From the moment I met Jenna Bice at a wine bloggers summit a few years ago she was determined to open a winery that produced quality wine in the Catawba region of South Carolina. She sat down at our table to talk to a winery owner who had converted a farmhouse into a tasting room.  I was impressed with her vision of creating a relaxing space to enjoy her wines.  She also had a plan to bridge the gap from planting her vines until she could bottle her harvest. She opened as a premier wedding venue along with a Bed & Breakfast.  I knew immediately that Laurel Haven Estate would be a winery that I would keep my eye anticipating her first wines.  We kept in touch since our first meeting. This spring she announced the opening of Lancaster’s first and only winery.  

Laurel Haven Estate Vineyard and Winery held its grand opening March 23rd with wine tastings and appetizers.  After working around their busy wedding schedule, I made my way to visit Jenna in May.  The drive to the property is lined with hanging old trees that transports you to a slower time.  The original owners designed the house to look like Tara from Gone With The Wind; although the fountain outside reminded me of Southfork Ranch from the TV series, Dallas.  

Once inside Jenna, myself and Mandi, the Low Country Bella, sat down in the elegant tasting room and discussed how she got to this point as we tasted her wines.  Jenna purchased the property in 2018 and the first order of business was some renovations and cosmetic maintenance. She describes her operation as a micro-winery (for the moment), growing 2-acres of 1500 vines.  The plan is to expand to 10 acres.   Jenna enrolled in the New and Beginning Farmers Program offered by Clemson University. She not only learned about both the farming and business sides of owning a vineyard, but she graduated with Honors.  Her next move was to hire a viticulturist  and farming consultant to determine the best varieties to grow on her property. The decision was made to specialize in European and American grape varieties that thrive in the climate. She began with planting an acre of Crimson Cabernet in 2022.  Crimson is a hybrid grape, a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Norton.  The Norton influence creates a hearty grape that is disease and weather resistant.  Her next planting was an acre of Vidal Blanc in 2023.  The goal is an expansion to 10 acres of vines.  For now and the near future she bottles at Shadow Springs Vineyard in North Carolina, but her plan is to build a bottling facility on the property.    

Jenna served us a selection of 8 wines in her tasting room. We sat at a decorated table by the massive bar that is the focal point of the space. Her whites include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Symphony and a Brut style sparkling wine.  I was particularly excited to taste the Symphony, a grape I wasn’t familiar with.  I enjoyed the sparkling and the Sauvignon Blanc.  Her reds include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache and a Bubbly Rose made with Pinot Noir grapes.  They also offer wine cocktails and slushies if you prefer a sweeter option.  We paired her reds with various chocolates.  Our favorite pairing was her Grenache with a rich dark chocolate.  I even thought of using the Grenache in a chocolate ganache for a rich dessert. 

There is additional seating in the sunroom and out by the pool.  After our tasting Jenna gave us a tour of the property.  We began by crossing the lake and walking through the vineyard.  She pointed out the direction of her expanding future vines.  Coming back to the main house you walk by the wedding area that overlooks the lake and vines.  There are 8 rooms between the main house and the lodge that make up the Bed & Breakfast.  She has put a lot of attention to detail in all the rooms, but none more so than the bridal suite.  Bed & Breakfasts guests can enjoy the pool.  There is also a wine bar outside by the pool to accommodate busy times and events.  She has recently added a 3200 sq. foot covered pavilion that is the perfect spot for wedding receptions and parties.  Also included in the pavilion is a wine bar and a massive display of her wines. 

Laurel Haven Estate offers an upscale experience whether enjoying a curated wine tasting in the elegant tasting room or relaxing with a bottle pool side.  I am looking forward to a return visit to stay for the weekend.  The accommodations vary in size to suit every getaway.  Anyone looking for a wedding venue and an exclusive experience, Jenna has checked all the boxes for creating that special day. This spring they are open Thursday-Sunday 11-7.  For the summer months they will be open daily. Located only 45 miles south of Charlotte, but the property seems a world away.  Check out their website for the latest events

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