Blogger Excursion: Swan Creek AVA

Six North Carolina wineries in one day, including a private tour? Yes, please!

After the NC Wine Bloggers Summit, the NC Wine Guys created an awesome blogger excursion in the Swan Creek AVA.

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On May 27, 2008, the Swan Creek AVA became North Carolina’s second American Viticultural Area…The Swan Creek AVA covers more than ninety-six thousand acres in Wilkes, Yadkin, and Iredell Counties.

—Alexia Jones Helsley, A History of North Carolina Wine

We were able to tour Raffaldini Vineyards, explore Piccione Vineyards, and Laurel Gray Vineyards. We rotated through a mix of four different wineries during our tasting at Laurel Gray which included tasting wines from Shadow Springs Vineyards, Windsor Run Cellars, and Dobbins Creek Vineyards. The proximity of all of the vineyards to one another was an added bonus.

Laurel Gray

Situated on century-old farmland that has been in the family for 10 generations, Laurel Gray is 84 acres of well-manicured and maintained beauty with 10 acres of vines. Laurel Gray, named after owners Benny and Kim Myers’ children, is not only family owned and operated but is also rich in the family’s history. After doing much research while also taking classes at Surry Community College, Kim and Benny established their vines and officially opened in 2001. Check out their website for more information on the vineyard, the winery, the soil, and sustainable practices. Although there are other wineries in the Swan Creek AVA, Laurel Gray is one of four in the Swan Creek Wine Trail.

 

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Sitting on the screened-in patio, we shared a table with fellow bloggers and readied our glasses. It’s impossible to ignore the gorgeous scenery that surrounds the winery from constant rows of vines to a picturesque lake with beautiful mountain views. We were instantly relaxed before we began trying the variety of award-winning wines.

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Yes, Laurel Gray’s French-style wines have received several awards both locally and internationally. Some of their accolades include Gold NC State Wine Competition, Gold Mid-Atlantic Wine Competition, Bronze Finger Lakes International Competition, Silver American Wine Society, and much more!

Tasting

Chardonnay — 1.5 acres of grapes that are barrel fermented in French oak, not all new oak. There’s a nice balance with the caramel, vanilla flavors.

Cabernet Sauvignon — The oldest grape on the land from 17-year-old vines; nice balance during fermentation in French, American, and Hungarian oak; smooth, caramel notes with a nice vanilla, cocoa finish. Great care is taken to look for specific components while choosing which berries to use.

2014 Cabernet Franc (Shiloh) — Best red in NC award! This is a straight fruit-forward wine from a half-acre of 16-years-old vines. Notes of ripe strawberry and cherry are present.

 

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Shadow Springs

Jamey Johnson, one of the owners of Shadow Springs, shared wines from both Shadow Springs (planted in 2005 and opened in 2008) and their sister vineyard, Windsor Run Cellars. Shadow Springs has roughly 11 acres of red and white grapes.

2015 Sevyal Blanc — This French hybrid is their most popular white. It was lightly finished in stainless steel tanks and uses juice instead of sugar. The wine itself is light and pleasant with hints of peach. It starts sweet but finishes tart and crisp. Jamey suggested that this is a great patio wine and could be paired with chicken salad.

2014 Petit Verdot — Aged two years in new French oak, this wine has a nice oaky and dark berry balance. It has a nice pop of plum and is incredibly smooth. Pair this wine with heavy meat, including lamb.

 

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Windsor Run

Windsor Run opened in 2012 and is unique in that it claims the title of being the only winery in NC that also legally produces spirits. Make sure to try their brandy and mead. Like Laurel Gray, Windsor Run also produces wine for many other NC vineyards, including Shadow Springs.

2016 Pinot Grigio — Finished in stainless steel, this wine is light and summery. Notes of grapefruit dance upfront, followed by a faint minerality, and a crisp finish.

Midnight Run — This port-style wine is a blend of Petit Verdot and Chambourcin and is fortified with their brandy. It’s velvety smooth with strong acidity and notes of cocoa and black currant.

 

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Dobbins Creek Vineyards

Charles King, the owner of Dobbins Creek, was able to send a few of his wines for us to taste as well. The first vines at Dobbins Creek were planted in 2002 with additions made in the years following.

2015 Estate Grown Riesling — This dry wine is one of the few of the driest in the state, according to Johnson. Florals are detected on the nose. Nice acidity with notes of grapefruit and melon make for a refreshing glass.

Ram Cat Red — 100% estate grown blend with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich, deep fruits greet you with plum and cherry, and it has a clean, smooth lasting finish.

 

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Tasting Info

Laurel Gray:

  • Wednesday–Saturday: 10am to 5pm
  • Sunday: 1pm to 5pm

Shadow Springs:

  • Wednesday–Saturday: 10am to 5pm
  • Sunday: 1pm to 5pm

Windsor Run:

  • Wednesday–Saturday: 10am to 5pm
  • Sunday: 1pm to 5pm

Dobbins Creek:

  • Wednesday: 1pm to 5pm
  • Thursday: 12pm to 5pm
  • Friday: 12pm to 5pm
  • Saturday: 11am to 5pm
  • Sunday: 1pm to 5pm

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Thank you, NC Wine Guys, and all of the wineries that were able to take the time to be a part of our group event.

Until our next glass….

Go local. Drink Carolinas! 🍷

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