The Yadkin Valley, in the northern Piedmont area of North Carolina, bills itself as “Napa of the East.” Karen and I explored this claim on the weekend of 9-30-17 on our way to visit Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mt. Airy. We detoured from a traffic tie-up and made our first stop at Stony Knoll Vineyards.

The owner of Stony Knoll Vineyards, Van Coe, explains harvesting and planting techniques to me on an awesome Saturday morning. I could have sipped wine and chatted with Van all day.

The Coe family has farmed this land since 1896. Tobacco was the cash crop for many years. The Vineyards first harvest was in the fall of 2002.

Most of the North Carolina wines we’d tried in the past were made from local muscadine and scuppernong grapes which tend to be very sweet. The American Vintage Area (AMA) climate of the Yadkin Valley allows them to grow European grape varieties to create finer wines.  

Kay served our tasting from the usual varieties atop the bar. Van came in and shared the “Master Exquisite Black Oak Stick (MEBOS) 2015 Chambourcin Pedigree from a stash under the bar that was magnificent. We left with a bottle in hand.

We arrived a few minutes before opening at Herrera Vineyards. It was a perfect day to chill on their beautiful grounds.

Family owned and operated Herrera Vineyards is near Dobson, NC in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Herrera Vineyards offers fine dining and wine inside their ornate dining and tasting rooms or alfresco on the pretty patio. Virgilio served the wine tasting and we shared our fondness for British humor.

Boasting 136,000 vines spanning 145 miles, Shelton Vineyards was by far the largest winery we visited in Yadkin Valley. Brothers Charlie and Ed Shelton turned from tobacco farming to grapes in 1999 and never looked back. 

During our tour of Shelton Vineyards we learned that the rose bushes planted at the end of vine rows are not only beautiful, they provide an early warning system. Insects that might attack the grapevines always chow down on the rose bushes first.

The wine casks in the Shelton tasting cellar are sold and stored for owners until their wine is ready to drink. Owners put a personal message one each cask. I liked, “Shlabor Day Weekend at the Wineyard.”

The Yadkin Valley Vineyards forever changed or opinion of North Carolina wines for the better. A picture perfect day filled with fine wines is hard to top.

 

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