A Taste of Yadkin Valley

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A TASTE OF YADKIN VALLEY
By Jo Clark

 

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Jo Clark shares her wine tasting adventures in Yadkin Valley, North Carolina. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Acast.

 


If you follow me on social media, you already know—I’m all about the food. Well, and the wine! *smile* My road trip through Surry County in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley was no exception. My planned “long weekend” of visiting all their wineries—was a dismal failure. I arrived to learn that there are FOURTY-FOUR wineries in the Yadkin Valley, and twenty of those are in Surry County! Now, I’m an over-achiever, but even I had to throw in the towel upon hearing that statistic!

Surry County has its own (legitimate) wine trail, and it is the place where the Yadkin Valley AVA got its start in 2003. The Shelton brothers, Charlie and Ed, were the driving force to have the area designated North Carolina’s first American Viticultural Area by the federal government. Unsurprisingly, the Shelton Vineyard is the largest family-owned estate winery in North Carolina. Their 1,000 acres spread over Dobson’s rolling hills—on Cabernet Lane, naturally! Unbelievable, but there are more than 136,000 vines planted on the farm.

Growing Grapes
In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you find the perfect elevation for growing European grapes. About three-fourths of those varietals produce dry and semi-sweet wines. Of course, that leaves lots of choices to make sweeter wines!

The grapes that are especially happy to grow in the mountains include:
Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Chardonnay
Chambourcin
Merlot
Petit Verdot
Pinot Grigio
Riesling
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc
Syrah
Tannat
Vidal Blanc
Viognier

I admit to liking nearly all wine. When asked what kind of wine I like, my usual response is, “Bottled!” Truthfully, it has its time and pairing. With the right food and mood, I’m happy drinking it all!

  • Apple Core Grill at Altapass
    Apple Core Grill at Altapass


Vineyards and Wineries
On the road trip through Surry County and beyond, I discovered so many delightful wineries—and even more delightful people! It isn’t often that you meet so many folks who love their jobs! That is unless you’re in a room full of travel writers! *giggle!*

These are the wineries I visited. You can read all the details in My Adventures on the Yadkin Valley Wine and ’Shine Trail on Recipes, Travel, and Culture. In the article, you will find links to each winery and vineyard so you can follow in my footsteps, err, tire tracks?

  • Golden Road Winery
  • Grassy Creek
  • Stony Knoll
  • Haze Gray Vineyard
  • Linville Falls Winery
  • Roaring River Vineyards
  • Elkin Creek Vineyard & Winery
  • Carolina Heritage Vineyards
  • Shelton Vineyard
  • JOLO Winery and Vineyards
  • Skull Camp
  • Old Nick Williams Distillery


Places to Eat in Wine Country
You may need to pull into a drive-thru for a quick bite when zipping between wineries. The usual fast-food places are available but remember that most wineries have food or food trucks. So slow down and try the local eats!

Most of the wineries have North Carolina products available for purchase. These tasty treats include Ashe County cheeses, San Giuseppe Salami, and crackers made by the Accidental Baker.

There are food trucks in the area, and many of them make the rounds of the wineries, especially on weekends when many of them have live music in the vineyard. One of my favorites was the Lobster Dog truck. They sure know how to cook a lobster!

You’re bound to work up an appetite with all your winery hopping. Fortunately, there is lots of food for full meals at the ready in the Yadkin Valley. The Yellow Door Café blends French cuisine and Soul food at lunch and dinner and is open for brunch on Friday and Saturday. (Insider tip:  order the collard green wontons with Thai chili dipping sauce. You can thank me later!)

The Wisdom Table is a wine bar, but it is also a perfect place for dinner or just for desserts and a glass to end your day. A small but tempting menu lists a variety of boards, entrees, small plates, and desserts. I couldn’t resist the warm Apple Tart, glazed with an apple cider concoction and topped with house-made apple butter. The scoop of vanilla ice cream didn’t hurt either. *yum!*

The Wisdom Table’s wine flights change weekly, so you can go often and try something different on every visit! In addition to wine, North Carolina craft beers are on the menu, too.

Places to Lay Your Head
No need to worry; just because you’re on the back roads of the North Carolina mountains doesn’t mean you’ll have to pitch a tent! Tucked among the vines at several vineyards are historic cozy cabins. These log houses come complete with rockers on the porch, firepits on the patio, and twinkling stars in the sky.

I spent nights in cabins at Grassy Creek Vineyard and Stony Knoll Vineyards. I would be delighted to return for more nights at either! I slept like that proverbial “bug in a rug” and woke to the sun shining in my window!

Bed and Breakfast Inns are the anchors in many small towns. And in Elkin, the first building on Main Street, back in the 1800s, has been recreated as boutique units with a rooftop deck. How cool is that?

Festivals and Celebrations in Wine Country
We Southerners love a good festival—most anything will do for an excuse. Are the shrimp running? It must be time for a Shrimp Festival. Are the Autumn leaves starting to fall? Throw an Oktoberfest (they’re more “festive” if you use fancy spelling!)

In the Yadkin Valley, there are lots of celebrations throughout the year, so look for these annual festivals during your visit:

Fiddler’s Convention – April
Wine & Craft Beer – May
Hot Nights, Hot Cars – May – October
Wine Festival – May
Music Festival – August
Mayberry Days – September
Pumpkin Festival – September
Autumn Leaves –  October

For detailed information, dates, and a complete list of events, visit the https://www.yadkinvalleync.com/

Enjoy your trip to the Yadkin Valley—I sure enjoyed mine!

Jo Clark is a travel writer and photographer based on South Carolina’s Grand Strand. She has a thirst for knowledge, history, great food, and wine! She does her very best to live up to her Instagram handle, JoGoesEverywhere! Follow her there and on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HaveGlassWillTravel/.  She is the editor of http://www.RecipesTravelCulture.com

 

 

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About the Author:

Jo Clark is a travel writer and photographer based on South Carolina’s Grand Strand.

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