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The Bottle Tree – Legend & Lore

When a soft wind blows, you can hear the moans
of the trapped spirits whistling on the breeze.
The way the spirits get free is if a bottle breaks,
so take care around the Bottle Tree!”

   Jerry Swanson – Bottle Tree Creations  

According to legend, slaves from Africa brought the idea of the bottle tree to the “New World” with them.  They would use a real tree and place colored bottes on the branches.  Supposedly this would trap evil spirits inside the bottle and the family that lived on the property would be safe from evil and harm.  Today’s bottle trees are a true Southern tradition but instead of being covered with old blue canning jars or even medicine bottles, they are covered with wine bottles (typically blue, but not always).  When I see one in someone’s yard, the first thing I think (with a smile) is there lives a kindred spirit (pun intended!).

My research on the bottle tree surprised me.  I have always thought they were a neat feature for the yard or flower and herb garden.  Not knowing there was any superstition surrounding how they started, I was just curious and wanted to know more about how today’s chic garden accessory came to be.

So how far back does this tradition go and why has it made such a comeback?  I haven’t found anything that tells why we are experiencing such a comeback of the bottle tree, but I have found from several sources that the tree dates as far back as the 9th century in the African Congo.  The practice started with plates being laid around the graves of deceased family members but was changed to hanging bottles off a tree once the practice was brought to America.  This was as much to keep away deceased family members as it was to ward off evil spirits.  The belief was that family Spirits would enter the home to take family members with them back to the “land of the dead.”

You can buy bottle trees online as well as at local wineries.  One winery here in North Carolina that sells them is Weathervane Winery.   Until doing my research, I had not given much thought as to why the ones on display at Weathervane were only blue bottles.  There are definitely no evil spirits in Weathervane, just good wine and good times so maybe it works!!!

All of this intrique makes me want one even more!

For more information on Bottle Trees, I would recommend: 

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Viognier: Poetry Bottled at Raylen Vineyards

This wine was a media sample from Raylen Vineyards

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Raylen Vineyards Viognier chilled perfectly at 50 – 55 degrees fills my glass with a beautiful pale straw color.  The glass sweats just slightly as I put it to my nose and get a hint of honeysuckle.  Pulling the glass back, I give it a good swirl and repeat.  This time the floral aromas burst from the glass with apricot and peach on the palate.  Still being fairly new to the “white wine world”, I was pleasantly surprised at the tart but yet sweet taste of this wine.  Even though the humidity here can cause problems for the fruit, Steve Shepard, winemaker at Raylen Vineyards, does a great job with Viognier.

A light wine, Viognier almost became extinct a few years ago.  In the late 1960’s, there was approximately only 40 acres planted in the Northern Rhone Valley of France and that was it – world-wide!  Thankfully, somebody thought to bring this fruit forward grape to the United States where it is grown and appreciated from California to Virginia and North Carolina.  In California Viognier is basically used as a blending wine to bring out the aromas of Chardonnay, but in both Virginia and North Carolina it is bottled as a stand-alone grape.  Although Viognier can be temperamental, our long, hot, humid summers give the grape ample time to hang on the vine, achieving the perfect ripeness for harvesting.

 The Raylen Vineyards Viognier  pairs really well with foods that are mildly spicy: Thai, Black Beans and Rice, grilled chicken or a pasta Alfredo.  This 2010 Viognier can be drank now or layed down for a couple of years.

Varietal: Viognier        Alcohol: 12.5%                     Price: $15.00

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