Le Phare des Alpes

Established May 8, 1909 in Valdese, North Carolina

Wine Making

One of the customs brought from the homeland by the Waldenses was wine making.  In the Waldensian Valleys, farming was a way of life and the region was well known for its grape culture and wine making.  That tradition was brought to Valdese where almost every family made their own wine. 

Wine making was a family affair with all members participating to cut bunches of grapes from the fine and place them in baskets to carry to the cellar where the process began.  The grapes were poured into small containers and mashed by a 4" or 6" square piece of wood with a "T" handle fastened to the top which made the up and down mashing motion easier.

The crushed grapes were then dumped into large vats made of wood slats to start the fermentation process.  After several weeks of fermentation and settling, the fermented liquid was drawn from the vat through a filter into wooden barrels for proper aging.  Each family had its own special timing, techniques, and types of grapes to produce the particular taste that they desired.

Today, only a few families in Valdese still make small amounts of wine.  However, a group of descendants have established a commercial winery in Valdese, incorporated as Waldensian Heritage Winery, producing a variety of wines similar to the first generation Waldensian Settlers.