Howling Dog Moon

Block Number: 173

Ginger Todd
McDowell Quilt Trail


Janet Bertinuson and Bridget Dunford, owners of the Howling Dog Farm in Nebo and home of the Belle Nicho Winery, hosted Quilt Block #173 on Saturday, February 28, 2015.  Janet, retired as Superintendent of The Federal Training Academy and Bridget, retired as Head of the Physical Therapy Department at J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center purchased the seven acre farm property in 1993.

In 2007 they decided to make use of the land and discovered it may be suitable as a vineyard.  They attended Surrey Community College studying winemaking classes involving all aspects of growing grapes from planting to pruning, harvesting and processing the wine. 

In October 2013 they hosted the grand opening of their tasting room and in 2014 were honored to receive three silver and two bronze medals at the North Carolina State Fair.   Janet and Bridget are members of the North Carolina Wine Growers Association and attend the meetings annually.

The name of the farm “Howling Dog” came about when a neighbor jokingly mentioned to them that their dog was a “moon howler” shortly after moving there.   The one acre vineyard, Belle Nicho Winery, is named in honor and memory of Bridget’s aunt and uncle who strongly supported their efforts in making good use of the land.

“The goal of Belle Nicho Winery is to be good stewards of the land and as self-sustainable as possible by utilizing organic practices.”  Using North Carolina grapes for wine production, the small farm winery employs methods that enhance the environmental balance.  From the beginning their vineyard soil amendments have used only organically approved products, including integrated bug pest and disease control.

In addition to three PV (photovoltaic) solar panels that convert solar energy into direct current electricity, the farm has two 2,500 gallon cisterns used to collect rainwater for irrigation of their crops.

Included in the family is their dog “Izzy” (Lady Isabella), “Ditto” the cat (named from a former cat she resembled) and “Blue” their functional and faithful tractor.  The attractive eye-catching wine labels feature “Blue” with an accreditation to a friend who designed it. 

The wine labels also proudly include the “Goodness Grows in North Carolina” logo, the official marketing program of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services of which they are a member.   It symbolizes outstanding quality of fresh produce grown and manufactured in North Carolina. 

 Howling Dog Farm offers seven choices of wine in the tasting room:  Chambourein, Seyval Blanc, Rose, Catawba, Strawberry-Rhubarb, Sweet Dog Red and S’Nice.    They also offer other locally produced items such as sorghum molasses made from the sugar cane field of neighbor Dean Patton, whose family first moved to the area in the mid 1930’s.  In addition there is honey from hives on the property tended by Peter Lamb, and of course grape jelly.  In the summer their raised bed tomato crop provides another healthy tasty option for visitors.  Other small- farm locally produced items offered are chocolates, cheeses, crackers and ground coffee.

Bridget and Janet are both quilters and became interested in the quilt blocks they kept hearing and reading about and seeing all over McDowell County.  Through the McDowell Arts Council Association they contacted the McDowell Quilt Trail personnel and chose a pattern they felt perfect for their farm:  a full moon coming up over the mountains; one that a dog would certainly have cause to howl at! 


“Howling Dog Moon” is a 5 foot by 5 foot block installed by volunteers Mike Lucas, Jack Raker and Jean Perusse.  It can be seen on an outbuilding of the farm/winery as you enter at 526 Patton Valley Drive, Nebo, N.C.  The women stated that they are “very excited to host the block, join the McDowell Quilt Trail and receive the Certificate of Authenticity from Chairwoman Jill Lucas”. 

The McDowell Quilt Trail is a volunteer community project supported by the McDowell Arts Council Association.  Its goal is to promote tourism and preserve history through the story each of the hand-painted block patterns represents.  For information on hosting or gifting a quilt block contact Mike Lucas at 828-443-6476 or visit the website at  Grants are also available for the Rural Heritage Trail for eligible older structures that meet the necessary requirements.

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