Fort Mill Times

Wine time: Enjoy wineries close to home in N.C.

By Jim and Marie Oskins

Brushy Mountain Winery in Elkin, N.C., is located in an old cannery. It’s blackberry wine is labeled with the 1905 cannery.
Brushy Mountain Winery in Elkin, N.C., is located in an old cannery. It’s blackberry wine is labeled with the 1905 cannery. BRUSHY MOUNTAIN WINERY

We’re happy to say for an enjoyable winery outing you don’t have to venture far. There are more than 100 wineries in North Carolina.

We took three days visiting local wineries. Along the way, we met interesting people, drank good wines and had a lot of fun.

One unusual and interesting winery is Brushy Mountain Winery, 125 Main St., Elkin. Located in the historic downtown in the Harris Building, the building once housed the Elkin Canning Co. The building has been beautifully restored and renovated. Owner and winemaker Joseph Wiseman gave us a tour of the winemaking facilities. Wiseman produces a variety of red and white grape wines, all of which are excellent. As a homage to the history of the building, he bottles a blackberry wine using a label based on a 1905 label from the Elkin Canning Co.

A trip to Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery, 450 Grace Road, Ronda, is like a journey to Italy. Located between the Yadkin River and the Blue Ridge Mountains, the panoramic views make it feel like Tuscany. It has 27 acres planted mostly with Italian varietals, and embrace Italian tradition and methodology including the drying of grapes before pressing. This labor intensive process condenses the flavors in the grapes and ultimately produces more flavorful wines. This “Ripasso” concept is what Italian winemakers use when making make Amarone. Raffaldini wines reflect the care and expertise that goes into their winemaking.

Fans of whimsy will feel right at home at RagApple Lassie Vineyards 3724 RagApple Lassie Lane in Booneville. Named after a favorite show calf of owner and winemaker Frank Hobson Jr., the cow theme is everywhere from the attractive wine labels to the Holstein spots on the silo. This is one of the older wineries in the area. Frank Jr. is the third generation to farm this land but the first to plant vineyards. He’s planted them with a diverse array of grape varietals. The tasting room is fun with samples of wines that get better year after year.

One of the largest wineries in the Yadkin Valley is Shelton Vineyard, 286 Cabernet Lane, Dobson. This is a beautiful, well laid out winery with streams, walking trails and picnic areas. The vineyards are planted with a variety of Vitis Vinifera grapes with miniature gravestones showing the dates the vines were “planted.” The winery itself is a 33,000 square foot, gravity flow, state-of-the-art facility. The tasting room staff if friendly and knowledgeable. The wines are well crafted and very good. A perfect end to a day of wine tasting is to adjourn to the Harvest Grill, the on-site gourmet restaurant. It’s the best we’ve found in the Valley.

Our other favorite wineries are Piccione, Jolo, McRitchie, Elkin Creek and Jones Von Drehle.

If you’ve never visited the North Carolina wineries, go. If it’s been awhile, go again. We were surprised at how much the quality of the wines have improved in the last few years. Growers are learning which grape varieties thrive best in the soils and microclimates throughout the state. There has been a rapid infusion of technology and expertise.

We stayed in Elkin, because we like the historic downtown and its proximity to many wineries. There are lots of hotels throughout the area. There are good wineries to visit, each unique in some way.

On the weekends the wineries are crowded. During the midweek, there’s more parking and it’s more likely visitors will be able to speak with the winemakers.

Advance planning can help by visiting visitnc.com/Wineries.

Jim and Marie Oskins live in the Lake Wylie area. They can be reached at winetime@comporium.net.

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