SURRY COUNTY, NC
Oh, Divine Wine
The back story of the proliferation of vineyards in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina is two-fold. First, there is the land – verdant and rolling, with terroir that invites the grapes to sing. Many of these fields were formerly tobacco farms, and with smoking on the decline, a new crop had to be found. Enter the much-loved grape. Second, the area supported its new crop. Folks worked together and the word got out. Surry Community College developed a two-year curriculum. Oenophiles began to taste, awards were won, and the rest is history.
Today, you can visit more than 100 wineries in the state, with many in the Yadkin Valley. Start with Shelton Vineyards, the state’s largest family-owned vineyard and the product of two brothers, Charlie and Ed Shelton, who grew up in the area. They remain some of the area’s most ardent supporters, and their winery offers a perfect way to spend the afternoon.
First, you’ll want to take a tour. The vineyards are beautiful, and if you book the Winemaker Tour, you’ll be escorted by their chief winemaker, Gill Giese. You’ll learn about the process, and sample wines along the way. You’ll stop in at Harvest Grill for a light bite and you’ll leave with a complimentary crystal wine glass (and several bottles of your favorite wine). More options include the Reserve Indulgence Tasting and Gazebo Tasting. It’s all good.
WOW Factor: These folks are winning awards at international wine competitions as well as in North Carolina. Make sure you sample their bestsellers: Yadkin Valley Riesling (semi-sweet and very flavorful) and Cabernet Savignon 2013, which won double gold at the NC State Competition.
Hint: Indulge responsibly and book a room at the Hampton Inn at Shelton Vineyards. (It’s the only hotel in the group that features a wine bar.) Plan to dine at the Harvest Grill. Their menu changes seasonally, but you can count on creative pairings and options for both vegetarians and meat-lovers, including Cornbread Crab Cakes, Filet Mignon with black pepper gastrique, or Angel Hair Pasta Provencale. Consider the sides, too. Good stuff, especially when paired with the perfect vintage.
Learn more: sheltonvineyards.com
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