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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!