NC Wine Tour
In early November, I went to check out NC wine country – Yadkin Valley. We visited 10 wineries in 2 days and had a great time. I cannot wait to do this again – hopefully sooner rather than later.
1. Westbend Winery – This was our first winery, thank goodness! We got to choose 5 wines to try here ($5). I decided to check out:
- Lillmark – This is their sparkling wine, and it was fab. At $35 a bottle, it should be. It’s very different from any other sparkling wine I’d had before. It’s a beautiful golden color. The taste is crisp with a hint of strawberries. Good thing you can’t order it online – I’d be in trouble. I shared my bottle with my mom and mother-in-law over Thanksgiving; we all loved it.
- Carolina Cuvee – this is a blend of cabernet, merlot, and chambourcin. I tasted a hint of cherry and some oak. I’d drink it but wouldn’t buy it.
- Pinot Noir – I liked this one – a little spicy, fruity, and chocolatey. It would be good with pizza.
- Chambourcin – I liked this one too. I think it would be especially good with pasta. This was the first time any of us had tried a chambourcin – it’s very common among NC wineries but apparently not particularly popular elsewhere.
- Cabernet Franc – Oh boy, this was very peppery to me. It’s not my favorite kind of wine.
2. Laurel Gray Vineyards – We all really enjoyed this winery. It was picturesque and they had one particularly good wine. We did a tasting here on Saturday ($5) and stopped back by on Sunday to share a bottle of our favorite. Here’s what I tried and thought:
- 2006 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay – good for a Chardonnay; creamy and light
- 2006 Sultry – blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon; red berries, oak, and spices; liked this
- 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon – blackberries, fig, and cherries; liked this too
- 2005 Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – like the regular Cab but smoother; really liked this one – this is the one we came back for the next day to share a bottle
- 2007 Scarlet Mountain – berries and vanilla; “cherry pie without the crust;” good
- Chocolate wine sauce – yum! We all wanted some, but it was a bit pricey.
- Caramel sauce – yum! We all wanted some, but it was a bit pricey.
3. Hanover Park Vineyard – This is the oldest winery in Yadkin County and second oldest in the valley. The owners were art teachers who went to France for their honeymoon, fell in love with the wines there, and decided to come back to NC and make wines in the French style. They make about 2,000 cases per year. Here you could try all of the wines (about 12) for $10 or 5 for $5. I tried 5 and then begged for one more, which ended up being the only thing I got. I’m not a huge fan of French style wine, so take my comments with that in mind.
- 2003 Mourvedre – French variety; spicy and dry.
- 2005 Chambourcin – French-American hybrid; good with Italian and pizza.
- 2004 Cabernet Franc – a big red.
- 2003 Michael’s Blend – full bodied blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot
- 2003 1897 – blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon
- Vin D’Orange – rose wine, oranges, lemons, whole vanilla beans, and brandy; the recipe is from a family in Southern France; this is the one bottle I bought here.
4. Rag Apple Lassie – This place was so cute and fun looking! They have a cow theme going on, and I wanted to love it. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get too interested in their wines. I tried all of them too! Since I didn’t care for them, I’ll not comment on them. The tasting was a great value – I tried 10 wines for $8.
- Pinot Gris
- Kaleidoscope Gold
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Kaleidoscope Red
- First Blush
- Rockford Red
5. Stony Knoll Vineyards – This was the most professional looking place we went. We all had a blast taking tons of photos at sunset – the vineyards looked so neat! Here’s what I tried ($5):
- Viognier 2006 – crisp and citrusy
- Chardonnay 2005 – very smooth and fruity
- Chambourcin 2005 – allegedly the top Cambourcin in Yadkin Valley; fruity and oaky
- Cabernet Franc 2004 – medium bodied, dry and smooth
- Syrah 2005 – smooth, fruity (but not sweet) and spicy; I liked this one
- Merlot 2005 – cherry, chocolate, and peppery; different from what I’m used to for a Merlot
- Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – complex; liked it
- Plantation White – very very sweet
- Ardella blanc 2007 – fruity and sweet
- Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2004
- Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 – really good with mulling spices
- Madison Lee Red – a good red table wine; uncomplicated berry flavors with a hint of spice
- Estate Cabernet Franc – black fruit and spice; I liked this one so much that I bought some
- Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – red currant and chocolate; I liked this one so much that I bought some
- Estate Kudzu Block Syrah – light, fruity, and peppery; I liked this one so much that I bought some
- Family Reserve Claret – full-bodied with flavors of black currant; this was my favorite wine of the trip, but I didn’t buy any since it’s $40/bottle
7. Old North State Winery – This was our final winery of the day and also our dinner spot. You’ll read more about dinner soon because this was part of my NC Eatin’ quest. Anyway, we decided to try all 12 for $7 (instead of 6 for $4) – what a deal!
- Spring House – blend of Viognier and Pinot Gris; light
- Bare Bones Chardonnay – stainless steel Chard
- Merlot – oaky; tastes like a Merlot
- Cabernet Sauvignon – blackberry, coffee and tobacco; great wine with food; I bought a few bottles of this
- Prelude – blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and tastes like it
- Restless Soul – blend of Malbec, Tannat, and Cab and tastes like it; I bought a few bottles of this
- Riesling – sweet
- Autumn Leaf Gold – smells great, peachy; crisp and fruity
- Captain’s Choice – blend of Muscadine and Chardonnay; buttery
- Afternoon Delight – red Muscadine
- Sandy Cross – sweet
- Starlight White – light bodied and grapey
8. McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks – Yes, we got up to visit more wineries on Sunday. We got here just before noon and enjoyed looking at their vineyards while we waited for them to open. This place was different from the other places we went to because of their focus on hard cider. I tried ($5):
- 2007 Pinot Gris – crisp with a hint of apricot
- 2007 Traminette – light and crisp, apricot and peach, hybrid of Gewurztraminer; I kinda liked this one
- 2006 Estate Chardonnay – vanilla, crisp pear, and apple with oak
- 2007 Pale Rider – a rose remniscent of strawberry Jolly Ranchers
- 2006 Merlot – black cherry and mocha; too bad – not flavors I love
- 2007 Ring of Fire Red – Carbenet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot blend; cherry, plum, and toffee; perfect for red meat or pizza; I bought this one
- Hard cider dry – exactly what it sounds like; I liked this one
- Hard cider semi-sweet – exactly what it sounds like; a little too sweet for me though
9. Elkin Creek Vineyard – This place also has a restaurant. I’ll tell you more about our lunch here soon as it was also part of my NC Eatin’ quest. Overall, we thought these wines were a bit pricey for how they tasted to us. I tried ($5??):
- Soft White – crisp and super duper sweet
- Rossa – blend of Merlot, Cab, and Syrah; full bodied and tart
- Reserve Cabernet – vanilla and oak
- Family Reserve – blend of estate Merlot and Syrah with a little Viognier; fruity and lightly oaky; I would’ve bought a bottle if it had been less than $20, but it was $30
10. Buck Shoals Vineyard and Winery – The guy we met here (the vintner??) was probably the friendliest person we encountered along the way.
- Pinot Grigio – this is one of only 10 vineyards in NC that grows these grapes; it was a nice, light, fruity wine
- Chardonnay – oaky
- Bryan’s Legacy – sweet and fruity
- Apple Mead – smooth and sweet with cinnamon and spices; would be really good served warm
- Shoals Creek Gold – honey mead
- Rocco Red – Charmbourcin and Italian varieties; light
- Vito’s Price – medium-bodied cabernet blend
- Chambourcin – smooth, berries and herbs
- Shoals Creek Red – this was so light and sweet that it’s almost a rose
- Shoals Creek Blue – pure blueberry mead with honey
Check out all my pics here.