Realizing that it would be a daunting (and possibly irresponsible) task to visit and taste selections from all of the represented wineries, we decided it would be best to experience wineries that were new to us and/or would be harder to visit in person due to driving distance. With our festival map in hand, we set off to taste and purchase refreshing NC wine.
Our first stop was with Cauble Creek Vineyard where we tasted both sweet and dry wines. We were especially excited about Cauble Creek since we’ve been following them on social media. They are also the 100th North Carolina Winery!
Must try: Mae Belle (White Doreen) 2015 and Amos John (Blend—Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec) 2015
Although the plan was to steer away from previously visited vineyards, we had to stop by the Saint Paul Mountain Vineyard tent for familiar faces and incredibly aromatic wines. Try their semi-dry red wine Vin Chocolate Du Barista, a dessert that you drink. Not only does Saint Paul have a wide range of award-winning wines, but they also pack a second punch with their refreshing artisan hard cider. Try the original, made from 100% local Henderson County apples.
Next stop was Fiddler’s Vineyard, which attracted us with their Carolina Dreamsicle Sangria, Chocolate, and Peach Mango drinks. We enjoyed the seasonal flavors, which also helped to cool us in the heat.
Must try: Jingle Bells, semi-sweet muscadine that has flavors reminiscent of Christmas. Another special wine is Carolina Dreamin’, which has the added bonus flavoring of homemade apple brandy.
Weathervane Winery was a very popular spot. Although most of those visiting were lined up for the sweet wines, we opted for the dry tasting. There’s no going wrong with their dry wines, and we had a difficult time deciding which bottles to bring home.
Must try: Temperature Rising (Tuscan rich and velvety) and Cirrus Red (Malbec)
Fair Game Beverage Co. had a beautiful setup, which easily drew us in. We loved the light, fruity flavors their wines offered.
Must try: Two-Step (Dry, Spanish style wine with a clean finish and subtle caramel and butterscotch flavors)
Thistle Meadow Winery offered a few of their over 50 wines that are available in their tasting rooms. Although we were impressed with the aromatics and lingering flavors of the wines, we think a tasting at their winery would be more informative and relaxed.
Must try: Lucky Black (Blackberry-flavored Merlot) and Stone Mountain White (Pineapple/Coconut Pinot Grigio)
Locklear Vineyard & Winery was our next stop, with an incredibly friendly and knowledgeable team. After realizing that we were very interested in their wines, they created flavorful blends on the spot. Talk about customer service!
Must try: Christmas in a Bottle and Carlos Semi-Dry
Autumn Creek Vineyards provided a quintessential wine experience. The team shared information about their wines as well as the winery, including information about the cabins they have for rent. We started with the dry wines but stumbled into the sweet wines after falling in love with their Riesling. Bottoms up!
Must try: Riesling and Bella Star (Voignier and Riesling blend)
Have you ever tried wine in a can? We did at our next tasting stop with Skull Camp Winery & Brewery and Round Peak Vineyards. This was not your typical tasting, but still provided refreshing sips. If you’re looking for “the fun side of wine,” you should try Skull Camp Winery.
Must Try: Anticipation (stainless steel Chardonnay)
Hinnant Family Vineyards and Winery shared a wide variety of wines that included pairing and cooking information. The team was down to earth and was able to answer every question we had.
Must try: Norton (dry Red), Electric Pelican (semi-sweet Blush), Carolina Wildflower (sweet White with hints of honeysuckle), and Pomegranate (semi-sweet Fruit)
Sanctuary Vineyards felt like home with the incredibly friendly staff. Although this particular winery is one of the furthest NC wineries from us, we will have to visit soon. We were so impressed by the care of the team and the wines they had to offer.
Must try: Wild Pony White (#1 Dry wine—proceeds benefit the Corolla Wild Horse Fund), The Triangle Reserve (award-winning Dry blend), The Plank (sweet, red muscadine), and Pearl (Albarin’o)
Be sure to check back soon for a fun, safe, and unbreakable giveaway related to Sanctuary Vineyard!
Rock of Ages Winery packed a powerful fruity punch with their sweet wines, many of which are Gold Winners. As an added aesthetic bonus, their bottle labels are designed by a local artist.
Must try: Black Cherry Tree, Orange Grove, Cork and Pork (hints of Spanish Sangria), and Bushy Fork Red (Double Gold Winner, Best Seller List)
Our final winery stop of the festival was RagApple Lassie Vineyards, located in the heart of Yadkin Valley. We chose to end our experience by tasting a few varietals and enjoyed the relaxed setup. Having ties to UNC-Charlotte, we can’t wait to visit and tour the winery, which was designed by UNCC School of Architecture students.
Must try: Hobson’s Choice (Bordeux style) and Rockford Red (semi-sweet blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel)
Another great feature of the NC Wine Festival was the wine pick-up tent. Being able to send all of our purchased wine bottles to the tent for pick-up when we left was very convenient.
By the time our day ended, we visited 13 wineries. It’s safe to say we had a wonderful time and recommend the NC Wine Festival to anyone wishing to go local and drink Carolinas. Cheers!