Editor’s Escape: Winery Tours for Autumn Diversions
I love autumn and I love wine. When I can combine two of my favorite things with a fall winery tour, I’m 100 percent on board. Luckily for me, I don’t need to fly to Napa Valley to taste some fantastic wines. There are several great wineries in the Carolinas. Here are a few to consider:
Situated off the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway and in the shadow of Table Rock Mountain, Victoria Valley Vineyards promises “a little piece of Europe” with a tasting of their European Vinifera wines. The architecture of the winery makes you feel like you’re visiting a French chateau. Enjoy lunch or a light snack in the café and choose from a selection of salads, paninis, cheese plates, and desserts.
Winemaking at Duplin has been a family affair for about 47 years. In the early days, they traveled from town to town selling their wines from a converted hog trailer. Today, they sell over 450,000 cases of wine each year (the hog trailer’s long gone!). They produce a good selection of whites, reds, blushes and sparkling wines. You can even enjoy wine sans alcohol with their alcohol free Muscadine and Scuppernong.
Visit their North Myrtle Beach location for a tasting and a peek at the bottling process. You can also find them in Rose Hill, N.C., which is where the popular Annual Grape Stomp takes place. In its 41st year, the Grape Stomp gives you the chance to stomp grapes with your bare feet for the chance to win a prize. This year’s Grape Stomp is September 9th and will also feature live music and exclusive wine tastings.
Just outside of Columbia, you’ll find a nice selection of local, hand-crafted wines at Enoree River Winery. Sample varied Muscadine, Vinifera, fruit and blended wines which they make seasonally. You’ll always find something new to taste with each season. As you sip, you can relax on the wrap-around porch and soak in panoramic views of the vineyard.
Sundays in October you can enjoy live music on the deck with their Pack the Porch event (except on October 15th). No tastings will take place during Pack the Porch, but you can order wine by the glass (or the bottle!) and bring in a picnic lunch.
Also, October 14th is their annual Harvest Festival, which includes other wineries in the area, live music and food trucks. Your admission price gets you a souvenir glass, ten tickets for ten tastings and other perks.
If a few hours at a winery isn’t enough, consider staying the whole weekend. You can do just that at Autumn Creek Vineyards. Cozy up in one of two log cabins (and just steps from the Tasting Room!). You’ll even receive a complimentary bottle of wine with your stay.
Sample from a good selection of white, red and sweet wines in their spacious 2,000 square-foot Tasting Room or picnic outside and take in the 100 acres of farmland with 17 acres of grape vines. They feature live music on Saturday afternoons with their Music in the Vines series.
Growing 14 varieties of wine-grapes at elevations of 2,300 and 3,000- feet, family-owned Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards boasts some of the highest elevation of any vineyards in North Carolina. Guests can opt for a tasting indoors at the walnut bar by the large stone fireplace or outside with impressive views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Sample both dry and semi-sweet versions of red cabernets, chardonnays and Riesling blends.
Fall events of note include their End of Summer Party with Sangria specials and live music (Sept. 22) and an Oktoberfest celebration (Oct. 22) featuring an authentic German band, German menu items from the Great Food for Any Mood food truck and plenty of artisan hard cider.
Head just north of Greensboro for a visit to Stonefield Cellars. Its cozy, secluded tasting room makes for a nice atmosphere when sampling a selection of dry red, dry white, sweet and semi-sweet wines that are all produced on site. You can purchase snacks, crackers and cheese to accompany your wine.
Live music, wine contests for prizes, food truck fare, a pirate relay and grape stomping are all part of the fun at their Harvest Festival on Sept. 23.
Their popular fall Winemaking 101 course begins Sept. 25th. Participants learn all the ins and outs of winemaking — from fermentation to bottling — from a Ph.D. Oenologist. You’ll elevate your evaluation and food/wine pairing skills and even create your own wine during this six-week course.
Another fall event to consider is their Barrel Room Concert on Oct. 14th featuring the Church Sisters. There’s limited seating, so it’s a good idea to purchase tickets in advance on their website to ensure you have a reserved table.