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Surry County NC

Shelton Vineyards
It’s happy hour every day at Shelton Vineyards in Dobson. The largest family-owned winery in North Carolina has a mighty pleasing chardonnay and a fantastic gift shop. Go soon, and take your friends.
Photo credit: Bill Russ —

Surry County, known as the “Art and Soul of the Yadkin Valley,” is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, next to the Virginia border. It’s home to four small towns – Mount Airy, Elkin, Pilot Mountain and Dobson, as well as some of the most beautiful wine country you’ll find east of the Mississippi.

Brimming with wineries, outdoor adventures, historic downtowns and unique festivals, the area is prime territory for romantic getaways, family reunions, and off-the-beaten-path vacations. Let’s begin with the wineries. With fourteen located in Surry County, visitors can spend a weekend touring, tasting and meeting people who enjoy making great wine and entertaining visitors from all over the world who come to see what makes the Yadkin Valley so unique.

McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks offers wine and hard cider, and visitors learn about their sustainable philosophy. Elkin Creek Vineyards is built on property which housed an old mill. Slightly Askew Winery features local juice, but wine from elsewhere. Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery has trails for walking, and Brushy Mountain Winery features wine from locally farmed fruit.

Carolina Heritage Vineyards is NC’s first certified organic vineyard and solar-powered winery. Shelton Vineyards is NC’s largest winery with an excellent chardonnay and a super gift shop. And that’s just the first seven. (Read about them all at

Even if you’re not a wine connoisseur, the tours are fun, the gift shops filled with collectibles, and the scenery breathtaking. In fact, scenery is another reason to visit the area. The Blue Ridge Parkway can be accessed from Surry County for north or south-bound excursions.

The more active outdoors enthusiast can go cycling along bike trails or back- country roads. The Scenic Bikeway provides more than 470 miles of bike routes – fun for every fitness level. Hiking trails cater to weekend warriors as well as elite athletes. Historic trails, state parks, recreation areas and greenways, plus hiking in Pilot Mountain State Park and Stone Mountain State Park north of Elkin offer great options.

Less physical, but equally enjoyable are travels through historic towns, stopping at old mills or following the routes of both Civil and Revolutionary War history. There are three Civil War Trails in the county, where soldiers traveled to and from historic forts, and toward the Atlantic Ocean.

These foothills have always attracted artists, including painters, weavers and potters. Two galleries which feature the work of local artists are The Gallery Group in Mount Airy and the Yadkin Valley Craft Guild’s Gallery Shop, in Elkin.

Elkin is an attractive, sophisticated small town with year-round festivals, unique shops and great restaurants. Dobson is home to great wineries, shops and restaurants and Surry Community College and Viticulture center. The town of Pilot Mountain features great views, an emphasis on outdoor activities and lots of festivals. And Mount Airy, the birthplace of the late Andy Griffith, is simply filled with Mayberry-themed nostalgia, including Floyd’s City Barber Shop, the Old City Jail, Snappy Lunch and Wally’s Service Station. For a greater fix of your favorite old sitcom, you can spend the night in Mr. Griffith’s boyhood home, cruise town in a vintage 1962 squad car replica, take in a show at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, or peruse the largest collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia at the Mount Airy Visitors Center. Be sure to schedule a visit during the last week of September when Mount Airy rolls out the red carpet for their annual Mayberry Days festival.

But Mr. Griffith is not the only celebrity who has emerged from Mount Airy. The mountain town was also home to the late fiddle-strumming legend Tommy Jarrell and country music singer Donna Fargo. This musical heritage is celebrated weekly with bluegrass and old-time music jam sessions and live radio shows, including the country’s third longest running live bluegrass radio show, “Merry-Go-Round,” and in an annual fiddlers’ convention each June.

When shopping sharpens your appetite, locally owned restaurants offer warm welcomes, great food, and even entertainment (the locals will invite you to stop by the Good Life Café on Thursday evenings for live music).

For more upscale dining, the bistro-style Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards serves fine food and wine both indoors and out. If an after-dinner stroll beckons you to spend just one more night in this endearing American town, you can choose from a variety of hotels, including the charming, English-style Sobotta Manor (located downtown, this bed and breakfast welcomes each new day with a scrumptious, three-course breakfast).

Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the natural backdrop to Surry County and its towns is nothing less than spectacular. Imagine mountainsides bathed in warm reds, oranges and golds in autumn, and lush, bright greens each spring. The scenery you find here is truly a photographer’s dream.

In Pilot Mountain State Park (one of three state parks in the area), towering Pilot Mountain draws one in as a beacon in the night, just as it did centuries ago when Native Americans and early European hunters navigated their travels by the bare rock face of the mountain’s highest pinnacle.

This is beautiful country. With so much to do and enjoy, you’ll return time and again, perhaps setting down roots as so many others have done.Take advantage of the special excursions, or go it alone, with the help of the Tourism Partnership of Surry County. You will love it here!

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