Saturday (7-8-17) Karen and I headed east of Charlotte to visit four vineyards and America’s first gold mine. It was a beautiful drive through lush farming country with rocky accents and rugged hills. The first grapevine farmed and raised in the U.S. was grown in North Carolina. It is known as the “Mother Vine.” The vine is over 400-years-old and still flourishing!

On a hot day in July, Karen discovered the wine slushy and became an instant fan. Our first stop and favorite winery was Rocky River Vineyards, which is beautifully secluded and only 30-minuets from home.

Just up Reed Mine Road from Rocky River Vineyards local lore says 12-year-old Conrad Reed made the first gold discovery in the United States. Young Conrad found a 17-pound chunk of gold in 1799. The rock was used as a doorstop for three years before a local merchant bought it for one-thousandth of its worth. He paid $3.50. Reed Mine’s story is a twisted tale of litigation, mismanagement, murder, abandonment and redemption. It’s a also a cool place to hang out when the temperature rises above 90.

For a small fee you can pan for gold, but don’t expect any doorstop-size chunks.

The Reed Gold Mine State Historic Park is free to see and explore.

The restored underground tunnels are naturally air conditioned.

Dennis Vineyards started as a father and son hobby in the family basement. With no license to sell, Pritchard Dennis donated some of his wine to the Lutheran Church for Communion. The congregation loved it and wanted to buy Pritchard’s “communion wine.” He decided against bootlegging it in the church parking lot and the family went into the wine business.

Angie and Sandon served us wine and told us the story of Pritchard Dennis.

Dennis Vineyards started with 200 muscadine vines. Sandon Dennis said, “This really is a hobby that got out of hand.”

Stony Mountain Vineyards is perched on Stony Mountain with an awesome view of the lower Yadkin Valley. The wines we tasted here were not our favorites, but the view is worth the visit.

We were famished by the time we reached Stony Mountain Vineyards. Karen packed a sausage, cheese and fruit assortment that went well with a wine slushy.

The Uwharrie Mountains formed over 500 million years ago and could be the oldest land in North America. Their prehistoric soils are loaded with  minerals which makes the grapes grown here some of the world’s best.

Uwharrie Vineyards was our last stop and another beautiful property.

We found no wine snobbery at the North Carolina vineyards we visited. Just hard working folks that appreciate good wine. It was a great introduction to the vintners in the home of America’s first grape!





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