Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Yadkin Valley Wine Trail

The first of March we spent a lovely weekend on the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail, visiting tiny boutique wineries, tasting a special selection of winter reds accompanied by a small bite of food. There was no snow, just a chilly wind, so the Wine Trail Weekend was a huge success, selling out all 200 available tickets.

As everybody knows, North Carolina grew lots of tobacco in the past. Many of these small farms have become vineyards over the past decade. Families with a dream either inherited the land or purchased acreage, studied viticulture, planted their choices of grapes, and are currently bottling lovely wines redolent of the mineral rich clay in this valley along the banks of the Yadkin River.

When we first returned from Europe, in 1991, we tasted a NC wine at a Trade Show and I made an awful face and Larry dragged me out of he tent in embarrassment.....two decades later and I did not make one awful face; NC is certainly on the wine map, at least at far as these vineyards in the Yadkin River Valley.

We spent 1 1/2 hours on the interstate out of Charlotte and the big city gave way to country roads. As we drove between wineries in the valley, we passed old tobacco drying barns, reminiscent of past glories. Some of these barns have been recycled. such as at this delightful Pilot Knob Inn B&B. We stayed in one of the cabins in the spring and they are charming.

Our first stop was Buck Shoals Vineyard

We tasted Vito's Pride, accompanied by an amazing beef chili. Vito’s Pride, named for Joanne's Grandfather, offers a red cherry aroma and taste, with notes of pepper. Tannins were noticeable on the crisp finish. The beef chili, residing in the crockpot pictured to the right, was the real thing...the beef was shredded London Broil that had been braised with onions and red wine. Red wine was also added to the chili.

And, yes, we bought a bottle... ...and served it with wild Alaskan salmon and green beans baked in parchment....

We continue on our merry way, wine glasses in tow.......

Next stop was Shadow Springs.

As we drove the country roads between wineries, I kept my glass ready for the next stop.

Next up on the trail was Dobbins Creek Vineyard. The tasting room is up on top of a hill and the road up that hill was very steep; you would not want to visit with a lot of snow on the ground. The land was originally a tobacco farm, then simply used for pastureland. The vines are planted exactly where the tobacco plants were grown. The bar was constructed from 100 year old cherry harvested on the land.

Laurel Gray Vineyards served bbq sliders along with a yummy 'strawberry shortcake' wine. And yes, we brought some home. And, no, it was not sweet, just very fruit forward. And a very pleasant atmosphere to enjoy tasting it.

Divine Llama Vineyards was a pleasant stop; the wall behind the bar was an aquarium. The owners also raise llamas. The owners enjoy blending their own wines.

Cellar 4201 Here is what to do with your garage if you own a winery: turn it into a tasting room!

Moving on, we went to Flint Hill Vineyards.

They even give directions to other vineyards:

Perhaps my favorite vineyard is Ragapple Lassie. We visited this tasting room before. I love the cow and I love the wine.

Of course the photos to the left and in the middle are of the Lassie herself! And, no the photo to the right is NOT the tasting room!!

Sanders Ridge was in a delightful setting. There is a restaurant and tasting room, plus a local naturalist holds monthly birdwatching nature walks. Larry especially loved the food served here....spring rolls stuffed with bbq.

This is the last of the photos; we did visit other wineries as well. Some wines were very fruit forward, some more mineral. We bought wine at several; the bottles were all priced between $15 and $19. We chose the wines to buy based on my comments: if I said mmmmm........or yummm........we bought a bottle. All the wines I chose had a lovely bouquet or 'nose' and had a nice finish.
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