10 Mar North Carolina best wineries list keeps expanding
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Our next top five vineyards
In a past Wandering Rose Travels article, my wife and I shared our top five favorite North Carolina winery experiences. Here’s the sequel – we’re sharing our next five favorites.
Since my first writing, our credentials haven’t changed– we still don’t have any. We’re not connoisseurs but our noses and taste buds know what they like. We prefer dryer white wines but also sample reds and blends and sometimes mix dry ciders with sweeter wines.
We use a fairly simple rating system: 55 percent based upon the quality of wine and 45 percent towards the ambience, which includes the tasting room, staff and outdoor setting. For us, it’s about the experience. We can buy good wines in a store or online, but there’s little atmosphere in a fluorescent-lit aisle and digital shopping bag, which can’t compete with mountain or valley vistas and the smell of pine trees and seasonal wildflowers.
For this top five listing, we’ve relaxed one of our biases. In the past, we downgraded a winery that didn’t allow guests to bring in their own picnic lunches. Not this time. You can decide whether or not that’s a negative for a vineyard destination. Most allow outside food, but a few have restrictions.
In addition, just because this is our sequel list, that doesn’t mean these wineries rank lower than the first group. We visited most of these after the first article. And several listed below surpass our initial experiences.
Mountain Brook Vineyards
Mountain Brook Vineyards has moved into a new chalet-style tasting room with a second-story deck, several patios, gazebo, fireplaces and open grassy fields, all with great views of the vineyard and foothills near the Chimney Rock and Lake Lure areas.
They sponsor a variety of special events, such as outdoor movie night, food trucks and live music. Tastings include their own wines and others from North Carolina and several from other wine country locales. You can bring your own picnic lunch but Mountain Brook also stocks a good variety of craft cheeses, meats and crackers.
You order tastings from their pre-established wine flights. I’m not sure why they conduct tastings that way – I prefer to select my own. But overall, that’s a minor negative for this great vineyard with an engaging staff.
Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery
Nestled in a beautiful hillside near Elkin, Jones von Drehle Vineyards and Winery makes some of our favorite North Carolina wines. One of the owners conducted our tasting and we enjoyed learning about their story and beginnings.
We sat on their patio and sipped a glass while soaking up views of their ponds, vineyards and vistas. We brought a small cooler and picnic lunch from home during our second visit to Jones von Drehle, but were informed by staff that they don’t allow outside food on their grounds. I was initially put out and thought about scratching them from this list, but the rest of our experience was fun and satisfying.
Roaring River Vineyards
After hiking Stone Mountain State Park, we always stop at Roaring River Vineyards for a wine tasting. And there are a lot of options nearby. Roaring River Vineyards near Traphill has become one of our favorites because we enjoy its vino and the onsite restaurant, Chez Josephine.
The location is fabulous. We sip wine and eat on the balcony overlooking the Roaring River and historic grinding mill remnants. Nothing beats the sound of a river while relaxing after a morning hike. The winery also offers tastings from local craft breweries.
We’ve not stayed overnight in the vacation lodge and cabin rentals at the winery, but that’s on our to-do list. The accommodations vary and can include access to outdoor fireplaces, porch, grill, horseshoe and bocce ball courts, corn hole toss and private fishing.
Veronet Vineyards & Winery
Veronet Vineyards & Winery is a new business near Kings Mountain and Charlotte. And based upon its popularity so far, this vineyard will become one of North Carolina’s finest. We’ve visited three times and will definitely take family visitors here on a regular basis.
The tasting room is wonderful with comfortable indoor seating as well as a wrap around patio, with great views of Crowder and Kings mountains. We can’t wait to sip wine in the glow of autumn colors.
Veronet rotates an excellent variety of food trucks on weekends plus they feature musical entertainment – check out their online calendar. And while their wine selection is still growing, we’ve loved their creations and always take a few bottles home. We don’t typically like sweet wines but a Veronet staff member coaxed us into trying its orange muscat. Superb!
Elkin Creek Vineyard
“Call ahead to reserve your dough balls.” Any winery experience that begins with those words of advice has the potential to be epic. On Sundays, Elkin Creek Vineyard serves brick oven, handmade dough pizzas that, yes, they encourage you to order in advance. The pizzas were great and so was the overall experience. The waits for your pizza are a little long, but you shouldn’t be in a rush anyway on Sunday afternoons.
Elkin Creek Vineyard sits in a beautiful location near a historic mill and small waterfall. It’s located just outside the city of Elkin and close to Stone Mountain State Park and many other wineries.
North Carolina winery tourism keeps growing
Check out vineyard websites in advance to investigate tasting hours, cheese and snack options, special events and food truck schedules. Several wineries almost made our list: Burntshirt near Hendersonville, Thistle Meadow off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Laurel Springs and Raffaldini north of Statesville.
This North Carolina tourism sector keeps expanding, now featuring about 200 wineries. If you’ve got a favorite local winery, let us know. We’re always looking for an opportunity to exercise our palettes after hiking.