VALDESE — Pastor Kevin Frederick of the Waldensian Presbyterian Church spent the evening April 18 blessing the 125th commemorative wine at the Waldensian Heritage Winery.

“Particularly, what I feel like we are blessing is the heritage,” he said.

The heritage in Burke County dates back to 1893 when the Waldensians came to Valdese from Italy. And the winery has created a special cabernet franc to celebrate.

Nearly 830 bottles were put together and packaged April 18 ahead of the wine’s reveal Sunday during the Tour of the Past in Valdese.

“It’s just so exciting because we’ve been talking about it for a year or more, so seeing it completed and ready to show to the community is really exciting,” said Gretchen Costner of the Waldensian Heritage Museum.

The wine’s creation began in 2015, said Eddie Zimmerman, one of the winery’s wine makers. About 165 gallons were created, which makes about 69 cases. With 12 bottles in each case, the batch was enough for 828 bottles.

Volunteers gathered April 18 to bottle the wine on a small assembly line. The entire process was scheduled to take about two hours, Zimmerman said.

“Because it’s a special occasion, we have a lot of (volunteers),” Zimmerman said. “And most of these people are here every time we bottle wine.”

Frederick blessed the wine just before the volunteers had the first taste. Frederick compared the importance of wine to beer pubs in England, which are known as a staple in English communities.

“Beer allows the conversation the flow, and in that respect, wine does,” Frederick said. “I know there’s a healthy respect for balancing life, including drinking wine … It’s the balance and the chance to celebrate with each other and appreciate life.”

Frederick said he also appreciated the taste of the wine, calling it one of the best the winery ever has made.

Zimmerman said the wine is a dry red and has no sugar.

“The finish just lingers and stays on your tongue,” Zimmerman said. “Up front though, it’s pretty smooth.”

Participants of the Tour of the Past will be the first members of the public to taste the wine Sunday. The tour will start at the Old Rock School and will finish at the winery. Tickets still are available by contacting the museum at 828-874-1111, Costner said.

After Sunday, the bottles will be available at the winery for $15 each, Zimmerman said.

“I’ve been accepted well by the Waldensian people,” he said. “A lot of people here are Waldensian by faith because they believe in the lord and the (Waldensian’s) persecutions and what they persevered to come here to Valdese … (Creating this wine) is one of the things that makes our passion even stronger.”

Ryan Wilusz is a staff writer and can be reached at rwilusz@morganton.com or at 828-432-8941. Follow @MNH_RyanW on Twitter.

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