Sipping the Weekend Away at Yadkin Valley Wineries

The lush, rolling Appalachian foothills of North Carolina have long been a vacation destination for many along the Eastern Seaboard. Mild temperatures, relaxing mountain vistas, and friendly, small towns welcome many travelers year-round who are looking for respite from big cities and hectic schedules.
Enjoy a tour of Shelton Vineyard, just one of the many outstanding Yadkin Valley Wineries in North Carolina

In recent years, something’s been brewing in them thar hills … and it’s not moonshine. Across the state of North Carolina, wineries have been multiplying steadily in three viticultural areas which provide ideal climate, elevation, and soil for growing grapes. Savvy entrepreneurs are taking a leap of faith by turning farmland and former tobacco fields into vineyards, creating a wine industry and attracting tourists at the same time.

A Day of Wine-ing at Yadkin Valley Wineries

Just a few hours northwest of Raleigh, the Yadkin Valley is gaining recognition as an up-and-coming wine region. Some 40 (and growing) vineyards and wineries are now in operation year-round in this fertile valley on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most are open to the public on weekends for tastings; some even have restaurants offering everything from five-star gourmet dining to pizza.

I recently took a weekend wine tour of Yadkin Valley wineries and discovered a fun and relaxing getaway and a chance to explore the many charming towns, arts and culture of Surry County. No need to be a wine connoisseur to plan your own Yadkin Valley Wine Trail. Make your home base in Dobson, NC, at the modern, centrally located Hampton Inn & Suites at Shelton Vineyards.

Here’s a sample itinerary for visiting a diverse selection of wineries all within an hour’s drive (and some within minutes of one another):

Enjoy a wine tasting at Shelton Vineyard, just one of the outstanding Yadkin Valley Wineries in North Carolina
Shelton Vineyards wine tasting

• Just a few miles up the road from the Hampton Inn lies the venerable Shelton Vineyards. The highly-respected Shelton brothers, Charlie and Ed, opened the valley’s flagship winery in 1999 and paved the road for viticultural designations across the state.  Shelton Vineyards is now the largest family-owned estate winery in North Carolina. Plan to take a tour, enjoy a walk along the lake and treat yourself to an amazing dinner at the Harvest Grill. Ask for a table on the patio to enjoy an exquisite sunset over the vineyards.

• Head over to historic downtown Elkin for an afternoon of browsing antique shops and a stop at Brushy Mountain Winery located right on Main Street. With its artsy jazz club ambiance, this intimate wine bar is all about charming—and a delightful surprise for its knock-out wines that come from locally-grown grapes. Ask for a tasting of the Booger Swamp White (just because).

Take a tour of Elkin Creek Vineyard, just one of the outstanding Yadkin Valley Wineries in North Carolina
Elkin Creek Vineyard

• At picturesque Elkin Creek Vineyard you’ll find yourself in a modern farmhouse tavern surrounded by vineyards. On the grounds are a historic mill, cabins and a meandering creek through the woods.  Brick oven pizzas are served on weekends from an authentic wood fired oven. Inquire about renting one of the cozy creekside cabins.

Tour the JOLO Winery and Vineyards, just one of the outstanding Yadkin Valley Wineries in North Carolina
JOLO Winery and Vineyards

• You’ll think you’re in Napa Valley with the rolling vineyard views from the back patio at Round Peak Vineyards in Mount Airy. Gorgeous vistas, outstanding wine (and freshly brewed craft beer made on-site), and lots of locals who gather here on weekends to hang out make this one winery (and craft brewery) you won’t want to leave.

• The new Adagio Winery’s modern 2,400-square-foot tasting room in Elkin is clean, bright and airy with three tasting bars and couches for conversation in front of a large stone fireplace. The vineyards are up the road, and the fermenting room is in the basement. The owner makes her own violins, so look for a musical theme among a variety of handmade crafts for sale.

• Plan to stay a while when you visit the beautiful JOLO Winery and Vineyards in Pilot Mountain. Set in a gated estate on a small lake with a view of the mountain, JOLO entices with an outdoor patio perfect for relaxing and a comfortable tasting room with a view of the open kitchen. On weekends, the intimate End Post restaurant offers prix-fixe gourmet dinners prepared by executive chef Brian Brown.

Winter Wine Passport

From November to April, the Winter Wine Passport ($55) offers wine tastings at more than a dozen wineries, discounts from local merchants, restaurants and lodging, and more. Go to SurryWineries.com for more information.

Shelton Vineyards photo by Travis Dove, all photos courtesy of Surry County Tourism Development Authority

 

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