History of Waldensian Style Wines

Bernard's Waldensian Style Wine Label

The end of prohibition and the creation of the North Carolina’s ABC Commission provided the opportunity for wineries to reopen and thrive. Original winemaker and proprietor, Mellie Bernard, created Bernard’s Waldensian Style Wines in 1935. Mellie embraced the local culture of wine making by the Waldensians in the small town of Valdese and launched his winery in neighboring Icard. His vision flourished in the local community for many years providing local area residents with a variety of fruit-based wines. In 1948 there were 2 alcohol related deaths in Burke County, which resulted in legislation that made it a dry county. No alcohol could be produced or sold in the county. Without another option, Mellie left wine on the bottling lines with over 6,000 gallons of wine he was no longer allowed to sell.

Using his knowledge and talents, Mellie lent his expertise in wine making to Duplin Winery. To carry the winery forward a partnership struck up with the Weaver & Bumgarner families, Bernard’s Waldensian Style Wines became Waldensian Style Wines. Duplin Winery continued to produce wine for Waldensian Style Wines to distribute across Katherine’s Cheese House, the Hickory Furniture Mart, and much of the foothills of NC for decades to come.

Waldensian Style Sweet Blueberry Wine

As the Weaver & Bumgarner families began to retire in the early 1990’s, Katherine’s Cheese Houses closed, but the distribution of the wines across the foothills of NC continued. In 2008, the Zimmerman family acquired Waldensian Style Wines to breathe some life back into the historic Winery. With Duplin Winery still being a producing partner for Muscadine & Scuppernong wines, the Zimmermans reopened a production winery and began making many of the historic Italian and fruit- based wines in-house once again.

The story behind Brenda’s Bellini

Have you ever been curious about our iconic truck logo? Well it didn’t come from nowhere. Our friend and graphics designer Steve Ollice had his inspiration for the logo one long holiday weekend in the mountains while listening to some Allman Brothers Band. The original inspiration was the cover art from the “Eat a Peach” album. The actual truck in the logo is a ’54 Chevy Truck and yes, Eddie had one out at the winery when the logo was designed.

It all started in 2010…

Eddie and Brenda had just finished working the North Carolina Wine Festival at Tanglewood Park. It was a blistering hot day, attendees were grasping for anything cool to drink, and a few attendees even passed out from the heat. They had an idea! Figure out a way to turn our wine into a deliciously different iced cocktail that is lower in alcohol, but more robust in flavor and base it on a southern staple, the Peach.

Borrowing from a classic Italian cocktail, the Peach Bellini, Brenda concocted the first recipe using off the shelf ingredients and a little improvisation. Eddie bought a slushie machine thinking it would be the ideal way to serve this refreshing new wine mixer. Brenda’s Bellini was born… The very next festival, Eddie and Brenda debuted the first iteration of Brenda’s Bellini. It was a smashing success and quickly became a fan favorite.

As time went on, some of the shelf products stopped production and there was no easy way to allow people to take a bottle home with them. Eddie and Brenda’s son, Andrew took this as a sign they needed to further develop Brenda’s Bellini. While working a fulltime job at a Raleigh area investment group, Andrew spent close to 2 years of lunch breaks sourcing direct supply chains to ingredients and working with Eddie and Brenda to hone a concentrated and shelf stable version of Brenda’s Bellini.

After years of work, countless weekends spent testing hundreds of recipes and flavor variations, the present-day Brenda’s Bellini was born. Now we had the ability to not only ensure we could continue to provide Brenda’s Bellini to our loyal fan base, but also allow our customers to enjoy a bit of Brenda’s creativity at home, the beach, or even poolside.

With a newly designed recipe that customers can take home with them, it was time to show the true versatility of this delightful southern treat. Andrew cleverly enlisted friends to help design a variety of mixes and uses for the Bellini’s, and you can now find many of these recipes from our recipe page to try at home.

Read the story behind the Waldensians in Valdese, NC.