Red wine or white wine? Why not both? Wine lovers from both sides will agree on one thing – the Yadkin Valley in North Carolina is home to some of the best wines on the East Coast. As the state’s first federally-approved American Viticultural Area (AVA), the Yadkin Valley wine country is unique in that it’s not limited to the native grape breeds of Muscadine and Scuppernong. Thanks to extensive wine making research, the area is now able to successfully house many European varietals as well.
Since the Yadkin Valley is home to more than two dozen commercial wine producers, they often participate in events together, making it even easier for wine lovers to experience them all. From small, family-run wineries like Laurel Gray to larger, Tuscan-inspired vineyards like Raffaldini, there is something for every budget and palate.
Plus, with plenty of extras in the area like arts & crafts, hiking, restaurants and quaint bed and breakfasts, you’ll want to turn your visit into a weekend getaway.
A visit to Raffaldini Vineyards will magically transport you to Tuscany from the moment you catch a glimpse of the Villa upon the hill that serves as the winery’s tasting room, shop and event space. But the experience continues once you taste their wines. Using estate grapes like Petit Verdot, Vermentino, Montepulciano and Sangiovese, their wines are the closest thing you’ll find to their European counterparts. Before you leave, make sure to grab a bottle of Sangiovese pasta sauce or a wine-infused brownie from the shop on the way out so your Italian adventure can continue at home.
Laurel Gray Vineyards
Located on a beautiful, expansive countryside in the Yadkin Valley, Laurel Gray is an award-winning, family-owned winery that will have you feel like you’re visiting old friends. Owners, Benny and Kim Myers, are always around to answer questions and may even host your tasting if you’re lucky. Their wines, which include everything from dry whites and reds to delicious dessert wines, are 90% estate-grown and bottled, which means if you want to take something home, you’ll have to purchase at the tasting room or online from their website.
Windsor Run Cellars
Windsor Run Cellars is the only winery in North Carolina with a distillery under the same roof. In addition to housing 30 stainless steel wine tanks, their 18,000 square foot facility also houses two stills that yield high proof brandy, along with their famous fortified wines (wine with brandy added). You’ll want to try some of their unique concoctions like Cherry Smash (think Cheerwine with a kick), Apple Mead – a great treat for the holidays and Island Holiday, a fruity cab franc that will have you feeling like you’re at the beach.
Shadow Springs Vineyard
Right down the street from Windsor Run operated by the same owners, is Shadow Springs Vineyard – a picturesque winery with a large tasting room, quaint gift shop and extensive wine selection. Offering one of the largest tastings in the area, you can choose to taste either seven wines or a whopping fifteen wines from their broad collection. One not to miss… the crowd favorite, Strawberry Shortcake wine mixed with the chocolately Dark Shadow, it’s like a chocolate-covered strawberry in a glass!