Though Stony Knoll Vineyards' first harvest didn't take place until 2002, the winery's 48 acres of cropland have been part of the Coe family since 1896, making it a North Carolina Century Farm. For most of that time, the land yielded tobacco, but now, under winemaker Lynn Crouse, its two vineyards grow grapes for 12 wines. That selection ranges from two cabernet francs to the signature SKV Plantation White, a dessert wine fashioned from handpicked chardonnay grapes.
Samples abound inside Stony Knoll's tasting room, which is nestled high in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, overlooking the scenic vines below. Elsewhere on the picturesque estate, Stony Knoll hosts weddings and overnight guests in its Wine Lodge. The lodge, which was built in 1860, was originally a rural homestead, but it now offers modern amenities for its guests, including a two-person jacuzzi and flat-screen TVs.
Generations of history permeates the walls of Old North State Winery, whispering stories of the 19th century building it calls home and the wines spawned from old family vineyards. The elegant shop showcases its rustic origins in dark wooden floors scattered with barrel coffee tables, plush leather couches, and sleek high-tops shaped in the likeness of Grover Cleveland. A marble-topped bar sprawls across one of the sandstone colored walls, fortified with bottle after bottle of the winery’s own creations.
Though wine is clearly Old North State’s main attraction, the shop also purveys beers and complements sips with a dozen sandwiches from its Downtown Deli. The deli provides for lunchtime cravings and catered events with turkey clubs, homemade meatball sandwiches, and a bar menu of hotdogs and steak nachos.
Falderal Winery welcomes guests into the oak-study tasting room twice a month to expound upon the scientific miracle of fermentation. Instructor and vintner Paul Kovacich, a native of the terroir of western North Carolina, wields his experience at Thistle Meadow Winery to aid the public during fermented endeavors. Paul's class covers the winemaking process, from the addition of yeast to bottling to making labels out of cartoons from the New Yorker. Reservations are recommended, as the winery caps classes at eight students.
Lovingly tended by proprietors and master winemakers Tommy and Amie Baudoin, the idyllic fields of Morgan Ridge Vineyards yield delicious, fruity batches of handcrafted vino. Six varieties of grapes sprout from the fertile grounds, including classics such as chardonnay and merlot and rarer fruits such as sangiovese and seyval blanc. Within the newly built winery, stout oak barrels house a harvest of 1,500 cases of wine per year, and a tasting room welcomes guests with warm, comfortable hospitality. Regular tours explore the vineyard’s rolling hills and neat rows of plants before retiring to the tasting room, where patrons sample the fruits of the Baudoin's labor by drinking their wines and trying on their work gloves.
Inspired by the rustic cuisine of the South, the menu at Chateau Morrisette is home to hand-made, savory beignets; a house take on surf and turf; and boards piled with cheese and charcuterie. Tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the restaurant and winery invites guests to experience a taste of old-world elegance with a bottle of one of its many varietals, ranging from summery Blackberry Wine to classic Merlot.
Tucked in North Carolina's northwest corner near the Tennessee border, Banner Elk boasts a diverse topography. Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain flank the town, drawing skiers, mountain bikers, and hikers throughout the year. Elk River surges through the hilly landscape, its powerful current thrilling whitewater rafters in warmer months. Banner Elk's fertile hillsides allow crops to thrive, as reflected in the homemade jams and artisan cheeses lining the shelves of local stores. Nearby Linville's Old Hampton Store & Grist Mill still stone-grinds grain for pancake mixes and flour. Built in 1920, the building houses a general store and art gallery, and on weekends hosts shows by bluegrass bands and champion air whittlers.