NC Wineries - Quality Wine & Great Tourist Destinations
Quality Wine and Great Tourist Destinations Can Be Found All Across The Old North State
Looking for a fun day trip? Why not visit one of the more than 100 wineries located across the state of North Carolina? No matter where you’re located in the state –or even if you’re in neighboring Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia or Tennessee- chances are you can find a NC winery within easy driving distance.
In agriculture, North Carolina has long been thought of in terms of its most famous crop historically, tobacco. Now, in many of those fields that once grew the golden leaf you’ll find flourishing rows of grape vines. Those grapes, and the winemakers who use them, have helped turn North Carolina into one of the top-five states for wine tourism.
Grapes can now be found in every corner of the state. Native muscadine grapes, such as Scuppernong, thrive in the warmer climates and sandy soil of eastern North Carolina. Travel west toward the Piedmont and you’ll find wines made with the classic European vinifera varieties, such as Chardonnay and Merlot. Wines from hardy French-American hybrid grapes, like Chambourcin and Seyval Blanc, are common from the Piedmont to the mountains.
Wine has always been famous for having its specific growing areas. Everyone knows places like Bordeaux or Burgundy in France, or Rioja in Spain, primarily because of the quality wine produced there. On this side of the Atlantic, an American Viticultural Area (AVA) is a designated wine grape-growing region, which is distinguishable by geographic features and has boundaries defined by agencies of the federal government.
North Carolina has three such areas:
- Haw River Valley AVA
- Swan Creek AVA
- Yadkin Valley AVA
The Yadkin Valley AVA, designated in 2003, is the state’s most well known and nearly 40 wineries operate within its boundaries. As the quantity and quality of wine produced in these regions grows (and it’s growing rapidly), it’s only a matter of time before they become even more well known outside of the state.
The list on wineries in North Carolina is constant expanding but we thought we cover a few.
Duplin, in Rose Hill, is the largest and oldest winery in the state. Founded in 1975, it is also the world’s leading producer of muscadine wine. Located just off I-40, it is an easy stop for vacationers heading to beaches in the southern part of the state. Most people think of muscadine wine as syrupy sweet but visit Duplin and you’ll be surprised. If you do like your wine sweet, you’ll find it but you’ll also find offerings that run the gamut from dry reds to sparkling whites to spiced Christmas wines. Tours and tasting are free and the winery bistro is a great place to grab lunch or a snack.
Biltmore Estate Winery
Biltmore, in Asheville, needs little introduction. Thanks to its location on the grounds of the famous Biltmore Estate, the winery is the most visited in the entire United States, with more than one million visitors annually. The massive winery, which opened in 1985 in the old Biltmore Dairy facility, features 75 fermentation tanks and sells over 50,000 cases per year at that location alone. Due to the amount of wine produced, reportedly over 140,00 cases per year, the winery has to bring in grapes for other states but at least 15% are grown in North Carolina.
Shelton Vineyards, located in the heart of the Yadkin Valley AVA, has quickly made a reputation for itself. When brothers Charlie and Ed Shelton decided growing grapes and opening a winery would be an ideal replacement for tobacco, they didn’t do it halfway. The Shelton estate now consists of around 400 acres (200 of them planted in grapes) with a 33,000 square foot winery. But it’s not just about the size facility and the beauty of the landscaped grounds; Shelton’s wines have won numerous medals in competitions up and down the East Coast.
Childress Vineyards, near Lexington, is the creation of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. Putting the same passion into creating great wine he does into auto racing, Childress has created a true destination spot. Visit the 35,000 square foot winery and you could easily believe you’ve travel to a villa in Tuscany. Inside the stone and stucco building with its red tile roof you’ll find a fountain in the gran entry hall and a lavishly appointed tasting room. The accompanying bistro serves everything from Southern classics like shrimp and grits to flatbread pizzas with prosciutto.
*If you are a NC Winery and would like to be added to this list, please email a description of your winery to firstname.lastname@example.org.