CORNELIUS – Imagine having people over for dinner and wowing them with a bottle of wine named for the neighborhood. For those in Harborside, Old Statesville, Antiquity and Spinnaker, that’s a real possibility thanks to a new urban winery.

Without growing a single grape, the Lemke family of Cornelius opened Lake Norman Winery, bringing the taste of Napa Valley and adding Lake Norman flair.

Joel is a longtime wine connoisseur, sharing his love of a quality vintage with his wife, Jayme, and son, Jeff. Wanting to all go into business together after Joel sold his company and Jeff took a break from the grueling schedule of being a chef, they opted to go with what they know and love.

“Even Jeff, as a young guy, has always been a high-end wine guy,” Joel said. “Jayme and I got married in Napa. We have a passion for wine, liked the culture of vineyards, making wine and the concept of having a nice glass of wine with a nice dinner.”

Not wanting to move to California and not sure they wanted the grape farming lifestyle, they looked at another growing trend to get the best of both worlds.

“A big part of the risk in business of owning a winery is the vineyard part,” Joel said. “In today’s wine business, so much wine is available for rebottling and relabeling. For an urban winery, we can still create our own brand, portfolio of wine and even make some of our own.”

Being able to choose the wines to put under the Lake Norman Winery brand allows them to have more of a variety, plus keeps costs down.

Currently, they have a dozen wines to choose from. All have been hand-selected by the family and named for Lake Norman locations or water-inspired themes.

“If we were growing our own grapes, we wouldn’t be able to do that,” Joel said of the assortment. “We’d have to stick to how many grape varieties we have. … We have complete flexibility to offer any wine we want at any pricepoint.”

The only drawback, once a certain wine is gone, it’s not guaranteed to be back.

“But people will trust the brand that no matter what it is that’s selling because they know they are still getting a good tasting wine,” Jayme said. “We will be expanding the wines we choose to carry. The 12 we started with are the kinds we like to drink. The business model behind all of this is to provide good tasting, high quality wines at an affordable price.”

Buying grapes from California, the Lemke family is currently in the process of making wine to sell, though it won’t be ready until next year.


Want to know more?

Lake Norman Winery wines are sold at the store, 10508 Bailey Road, Suite 102, or through the website. They also host Business After Hours, in conjunction with Hyde Park Storage Suites, 5:30-7 p.m. Aug. 21.

Select types are also available at area restaurants and businesses, including Dressler’s Restaurant, Armin’s Catering, Bacchus Wine and Tapas, The Peninsula Club and The Cork and Cask.

Official wine tasting hours are 3-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the store, though people can also reserve a time for a tasting throughout the week.