For 21 years, the Cloers of Apex, North Carolina, were synonymous with landscaping – thanks to their family-owned business, Cloer Nursery. In June of 2010, Tam, the second-generation owner of the nursery, expanded the family’s heritage by opening Cloer Family Vineyards.
Tam, who graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in horticulture, developed an interest in winemaking as a young man when he befriended an elderly neighbor with a penchant for home winemaking. For years, Tam visited his neighbor’s basement winery and worked by his side learning the basics. After his neighbor passed away and bequeathed all of his winemaking equipment to Tam, he officially adopted the art as a hobby.
In 1995, drawing on his personal winemaking experience and his agricultural knowledge, Tam started experimenting with grapes on his family’s 18-acre farm. He initially planted roughly 3,000 vines across five acres. The vines consisted of vinifera (blended varieties) and French Hybrid grapes. Despite the fact that these grapes were recommended for this area of the country at the time, it soon became apparent that they are not well suited for the warm, humid climate of our region. The Cloers fought mold and mildew almost constantly and their vineyards were plagued with pests and diseases.
Finally, after nearly 12 years of spraying and troubleshooting, Tam pulled up all the vines in his vineyards. He worked with a team of North Carolina State University researchers to analyze existing research and data from his own vineyards and decided to replant with muscadines – vines that were actually discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh’s explorers in North Carolina’s Outer Banks in the 1500’s.
As expected, the new vines thrived. During harvest, Tam and his wife Pam hosted picking parties – inviting friends and family to help pick (and eat) the ripe fruit. After much experimenting and taste testing, they shared their new wines at dinner gatherings and gave them as gifts.
Based on the feedback he received, Tam was confident he was making good quality wines. That, combined with his love for the agricultural process and opportunity it created for family time, convinced him to take his passion to a new level.
The Cloers mapped out a plan to build a winery where they could share their wines with family and friends – both old and new – in a relaxed and comfortable environment. They wanted to create a place that “fit” with their farm and southern roots, so they decided to house the Cloer Family Vineyards winery in a traditional red barn with green tin roof.
Today, Cloer Family Vineyards is only the second family-owned farm in the immediate Triangle area that grows its own grapes and produces its own wines on-site. The entire Cloer family is involved in the process; Tam manages the vineyard, while Pam and their two young daughters, Taylor and Ashley, assist with other duties like harvesting, bottling, labeling, marketing, sales and more.
"We always enjoy coming to Cloer for the many fun things to do as well as the wonderful local wine. It "feels" like family. We enjoy the beautiful grounds, sitting by the firepit, the talented local music. My daughter and I love the Yoga nights for several reasons. Yoga is a mind/body connection. Meditation also comes easy in the setting of what you have to offer on your beautiful serene property. The wine tasting after is always a icing on the cake!"
- Christine Barone
"There was no better spot than to have our anniversary party at Cloer Family Vineyards. Pam and Tam were so helpful from the initial planning to the end of the night. Being outside that evening drinking wine had a magical feel. Our friends still talk about what a great party it was!"
"The Cloer Family Vineyard is a fantastic winery. The wines are delicious with a taste different from other North Carolina wines. The country setting is beautiful and so peaceful, set right in Apex. The Cloer family is very friendly and welcoming. A great afternoon or evening getaway with good friends and great wine. "
- Sara Mangold
"Your driveway led us to escape from our every day routine to a blissful, calm, and serenity filled haven. So beautiful.... We are thoroughly enjoying our wine purchases and busily singing your praises."
- Paula Masson
"The Cloer's Carlos is my favorite! I am a big fan of the sweet German Mosel wines and Carlos reminds me of those, but with a North Carolina twist."
- Casey Purdy
"I enjoy the flavor of Veranda so much that I have shared it with my family and friends and give it as a thank you gift to my clients."
- Judy Borger
"I loved the Cloer Vineyards, an awesome place to go for a picnic lunch and enjoy some fantastic wine! You feel like you are far away from the city, but it's close. It's very romantic, you can relax outdoors and see the vines. We also enjoyed the tasting and fantastic tour of the winery."
- April Calkins
"We visited Cloer Vineyards for the first time Saturday, February 2, and it was a great experience. Tam was full of information! We have a hobby of visiting NC wineries and have visited approximately 40 of them. We love to hear the stories of how they got started and about their wine making process. Tam certainly didn't disappoint us! We discovered that since we are from Fuquay-Varina that we know some of his family. He took the time to share lots of information about each wine he poured during out tasting even as several other folks began coming in. He had time for everyone and was extremely cordial. We left with a case of wine that included at least 1 bottle of everything we tasted. We can't say that about all the other wineries we have visited. Since we own a family business ourselves, we try to patronize local small businesses and are very happy that Cloer Vineyards is close enough by us that we can visit often."
- Claudia and Tom Dickens