NASCAR team owner Richard Childress has a reputation for his ability to pick superior
talent, and at Childress Vineyards, Richard's selection for winemaker continues that
"Just as I've picked the best in the racing business,
I've hired the best in the winemaking business,"
Richard and his partner Greg Johns selected
Mark Friszolowski to be general manager and
winemaker of Childress Vineyards. The 60-acre
winery complex and one of three vineyards, located
at the crossroads of Highways 52 and 64 in
Lexington, NC, is situated at the gateway to the
Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area, covering
1.4 million acres in the Piedmont region of North
Mark oversees the 35,000 square-foot
winery operations in Lexington and 100 acres of
vineyards while producing the premium varietal wines, house blends, dessert wines and a sparkling wine. Childress Vineyards
produced 13,000 cases in the first year
comprised of five premium varietals, three Signature
Series wines, and three house wines.
Mark is one of the most award-winning winemakers in America today. In
competitions from New York to California, he has received hundreds of medals,
including many double gold and gold for varietals such as Chardonnay, Merlot,
Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Meritage, and specialty
dessert wines. His wines were named to the 50 Best Wines of the World twice.
A native of Long Island, Mark is from an area that transformed from traditional
potato farming to wine country. Mark came to Childress from Pindar Vineyards,
the largest premium winery on Long Island, where he apprenticed under famed
California enologist Dimitri Tchelistcheff. At Pindar, he rose from cellarmaster to become
the winemaker/general manager and director of vineyard operations for 650 acres of
grape vines and production of over 100,000 cases annually. Mark also ran Pindar's
sister winery, Duck Walk Vineyards, which produced 30,000 cases annually.
"I learned the business in a region where people were very skeptical," Mark said,
"and the wine we produced ended up best of show often in California," he said.
Mark was aware of North Carolina's growing wine industry but needed to be
convinced that Richard was passionate about the wine business to make the move.
Despite repeated calls from Richard and Greg for a resume, Mark submitted a case
of wine instead. Then, the three finally met.
"I am a very loyal person and was very happy where I was," Mark said. "I didn't
really know who Richard was before I met him but the first time I sat at a table with him,
I saw that he had the passion for this business and the resources to make it happen."
The deal was sealed with a toast and Mark went to work during the rainy summer
"I share Richard's vision to reclaim some of this area's agricultural heritage which is
disappearing as tobacco farms diminish in importance to the economy. I want to make
good wine in North Carolina, help grow the industry and give people a reason to come
Mark is committed to the educational aspect of the winery. "We want Childress
Vineyards to be a destination where people can enjoy and learn about wine."
Mark has garnered a world-class reputation for his knowledge
in the wine industry and his sophisticated palate. He is often asked to serve as a judge
at prestigious wine shows such as the International Eastern Wine Competition, as a
guest speaker around the world at technical seminars such as The International
Terroir Symposium, and to teach winemaking and viticulture at such renowned
institutions as the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.
Mark has also served as a worldwide consultant to wineries
in the U.S. and Soviet Georgia and barrel cooperages from South Africa to Australia.
His consultation includes work with overseas producers and importers from Italy, Armenia,
Azerbaijan, Chile, Argentina and New Zealand. Among his creations is a liquor blend
called Hpnotiq, which Wine Enthusiast calls "the biggest success story in spirits in the
last 5 years.
An avid runner, reader and former intercollegiate windsurfing champion, Mark is a
Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army National Guard Reserves. In this capacity,
he was involved in the initial clean-up process at the World Trade Center following