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When you think of the top wine destinations in the country, you may automatically think of the big names like California, New York, and Washington. But, the state of North Carolina has slowly and steadily been making a name for itself in the wine industry. With more than 525 vineyards and 185 wineries, and five recognized American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) located within its borders, the Tarheel State is becoming a favorite destination for wine lovers from all over the country. Whether you prefer a sweet white or a rich, dry red, you’ll find something here for every discerning palate.
Situated high on a hill overlooking the countryside of the Yadkin Valley, Raffaldini Vineyards is like something straight out of Tuscany. The picturesque villa at the end of the vineyard’s long drive is home to the tasting room and shop, as well as a large event space that can be rented out for weddings. Outside, you’ll find a large patio with additional seating and a charming path that winds past fish ponds and wildflowers. When it comes to the wines, they offer some of the very best French and Italian varietals including Vermentino, Montepulciano and Sangiovese, as well as several lighter, fruitier wines like Rose and Moscato d’Asti.
Located on the scenic 8,000-acre property of the historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, the Biltmore Winery is an experience you won’t want to miss. Situated in the middle of the Estate’s Antler Hill Village, the winery features an expansive tasting room with a large wine bar, where you can sample over 20 different varieties including reds, whites and roses. If you need a bite to eat with all of the tasting you’ll be doing, they also offer a selection of cheeses, charcuterie and local-made truffles. And if you’re interested in seeing how it all takes place, you can take a behind-the-scenes tour or book a specialty wine experience.
Owned by NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, Childress Vineyards sits as the gateway to the Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA), the first region in the state to be federally designated for grape growing. Spread across 72 acres of vineyard are eleven different European varietals, including Viognier, Pinot Gris, Petit Verdot, and Syrah. They also produce sparkling wines, dessert wines, and a variety of Reserves and Muscadine wines, meaning there is something for every palette – whether it’s refined or just a beginner.
Tunnel Creek Vineyards is a family-owned winery and vineyard offering locally grown wines and wine tastings. Visit the tasting room and take a seat inside or outside on the balcony or terrace overlooking the lake and enjoy live music while you sip wine. As you visit the wine-tasting room, you’ll enter through the arched castle doors, where you’ll find stunning displays of their locally-grown wines and a wine-tasting menu that includes reds, whites, rose, and dessert wine. If you’re feeling active, enjoy the fresh air along the walking trails, past stunning vines and year-round foliage to the historic Tunnel Creek bridge that the vineyard is named after.
Located in the Appalachian mountains of Western North Carolina, Burntshirt Vineyards is a family-run operation with a unique name that is based on mountain folklore. Uniquely positioned with vineyards on both sides of the Eastern Continental Divide, it is home to some of the highest elevations on the East Coast. When you visit this peaceful property, you won’t just be taken away by the breathtaking views but also by the taste of their award-winning wines, including the unique Apple Wine and Villa Rosa, a sweet red that goes perfectly with North Carolina BBQ.
If you’re a fan of Muscadine wine, then you will definitely want to take a trip to Duplin Winery in Rose Hill. Its rustic exterior may look reminiscent of a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, but once you step inside, you’ll find a spacious bistro and a large tasting bar. As the oldest and largest winery in the South, they specialize in wines made from Muscadine grapes and offer tastings that include up to 10 wines. Although all the wines have the distinctive taste of Muscadine or Scuppernong, you will still find a wide variety of tastes here, from sweet and fruity, to soft and dry.
Also located in the beautiful Yadkin Valley, Shelton Vineyards is one of the largest on the East Coast. With a climate similar to some of the best wine regions in Europe, they grow varietals like Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Malbec, Viognier, and more. While visiting, take a tour of the 33,000-square-foot winery, taste a selection of their award-winning wines and keep the souvenir glass to take home with you. You can also enjoy a meal of “sophisticated comfort food” at The Harvest Grill which is nestled on the grounds of the vineyard.
Carefully crafted, RayLen Vineyards & Winery offers everything from red and white wines to sparkling wines and rose. Just a short drive from Winston-Salem, you can stop by for a tasting and sample some of their award-winning wines. You can pick from a white, red, sweet, reserve, or extended tasting, then explore the picturesque vineyard outside. Check the website, as they also have live music, food trucks, and other wine events throughout the year.
Set in the picturesque Tryon foothills, Parker-Binns Vineyard is a multi-generation family-owned and operated vineyard and winery. It’s nestled on a beautiful 40-acre estate and offers a busy calendar of live music, food, and wine events throughout the year. Come and sample the Reserve Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Pea Ridge Red, and Merlot, then fuel up with tasty burgers, sandwiches, and shareable platters at the on-site Burger Barn.
A top winery in the Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and Greensboro, NC area, Weathervane Winery started off as a simple winery and has grown to include a packed calendar of wine tastings, wine tours, and events. Come and taste their wines in the wine tasting room, with two different options for tastings based on your preference. There’s a dry arrangement and a sweet arrangement available, and walk-ins are welcome. Afterward, don’t forget to pick up a case of your favorite wine in the on-site gift shop.