Daytrip Through NC Wine Country

August 30, 2016
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Fall marks the perfect time for a vineyard visit.

My husband and I made a day of touring Western North Carolina’s wine country. While we were not able to stop at all wineries, the few we visited hit just the perfect notes for flavor, atmosphere and community. All four wineries had their own individual vibe, which is great when you are visiting several in one day!

If you want to make a day (or weekend) of it, visit the WNC Wine Trail web site to plan your route. There are plenty of things to see and do in addition to tasting wines.

We recommend catching a play at the Flat Rock Playhouse (www.flatrockplayhouse.org), or spending an afternoon at the Carl Sandburg Home, where you can peruse the writer’s book collection and frolic with the goats. For history lovers, Overmountain Vineyards owns a twomile certified protected segment of the Overmountain Victory Trail, which they avail to hikers.

We started our day at Overmountain Vineyards. From there, we traveled a winding, scenic route to a few other stops before making our way back to South Carolina.

Russian Chapel Hills Winery: Located just down the road in Columbus, Russian Chapel Hills Winery distinguishes itself for its sense of peace and purpose. Here, they’re serious and passionate about grape growing and wine making, about the land, about honoring heritage, about religious dedication. You may indeed be blessed by your experience at this winery: the beautiful St. Anna Chapel, the first Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA) in Polk County, is just a short walk from the tasting room and overlooks the vineyards. Vineyard owner Andrey Medvedev constructed the chapel in memory of friends lost in Afghanistan. Tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday, 1-6pm. www.russianchapelhill.com

Mountain Brook Vineyards : We made a few wrong turns and ended up at the owner’s home at the far end of the vineyard. Oops. After circling back, we found the rustic tasting room, a second-story perch with a view of the vineyards and horses roaming in the fields. Our host, Miriam, and a visiting friend, both natural storytellers about life overseas, warmly greeted us and offered chocolates to complement our wine tastings. I enjoyed the Pinot Grigio, while my husband liked the Magis, a red blend. We hope to attend one of the winery’s popular cooking demo and wine tasting events in the future. Tasting room (located on the right once you enter the vineyard!) is open Friday through Sunday, 10am-6pm. www.mountainbrookvineyards.com

Parker-Binns Vineyards: We really got a sense of community at this locale, and with good reason: it’s family founded and operated. Laid back atmosphere, extremely friendly staff, snacks sourced locally, art everywhere, and award-winning wines (some named after the owner’s beloved dog). We got to choose the wines we sampled, which is a special treat (and not always the case). High on the hill behind the tasting room is a new barn facility that folks can rent for weddings and other events. In true family style, Parker-Binns throws many community gatherings throughout the year, including an annual Pig Pickin, Pizza Sunday Fundays, Spring Fling, and a summer concert series. Tasting room is located just off Highway 108 outside of Mill Spring, and open Thursday through Sunday, 12pm-6pm. www.parker-binnsvineyards.com

Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards: We finished our day here in Hendersonville apple country with some phenomenal wines. Again, we were able to select the wines from a wine list that even included their most expensive reds! We noshed on local goat cheese and homemade crackers, all while listening to a singer/ songwriter wail away. Saint Paul’s tasting experience encompasses two rooms of bartops, tables and chairs (with waiters) and is much larger than the others we visited. I particularly liked their most expensive red wine (go figure!), while my husband was a fan of the Wallace Hard Cider. Open Monday through Thursday: 11am-6pm; Friday through Saturday: 11am-7pm; and Sunday: 12pm-6pm. www.saintpaulmountainvineyards.com

Photo 1: Autumn is in the air and nothing warms the soul quite like a rich, full-bodied, complex red from Russian Chapel Hills.
Photo 3: Bob Binns of Parker-Binns Vineyards and his wife, Karen, “retired” to the area after building and selling a successful plant nursery in Florida.
Photo 4: Karen Binns of Parker-Binns Vineyard is the life of the party—always smiling, always connecting with guests to make sure their visit is beyond expectation.
Photo 1: Sofia Lilly pours a taste of a fine white wine and offers advice on where to visit next.
Photo 2: The St. Anna Chapel tends watch over the vines at Russian Chapel Hills.
Article from Edible Upcountry at http://edibleupcountry.ediblecommunities.com/drink/daytrip-through-nc-wine-country
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