Taste Carolina Wine Festival's ninth annual installment fills swirling goblets with varietal wines and ears with the dulcet tones of talented musicians. Aged grape spirits hail from wineries such as Native Vines and Cellar 4201, filling complimentary commemorative stemware and the cupped hands of feral connoisseurs with samples of their signature blends. As evening descends, musical headliners The Grey Street Band jam and wail through popular Dave Matthews Band covers such as "#41, " and "Warehouse." Bottled wines are also available for purchase, and a pick-up area prevents customers from having to tote their selections around and provides bottles with one last chance to fraternize with their friends.
Travels In Wine Tours' co-founders, Kimberlee Young and Derek Schuler, share their love of wine, food, and travel with curious tourists through tours designed and led by certified sommeliers. Epicurean scenic tours of boutique wineries, personalized luxury Napa vacations, and custom weekend getaways marry viticultural education with flavorful indulgence as guests take in picturesque panoramas of vineyards that stretch to the horizon before curving upward and forming bridges to the moon.
Wine and Design’s team of local artists organizes painting classes and get-togethers for any occasion. They provide all the necessary materials⎯including paints, canvases, aprons, brushes, and corkscrews⎯and lead students stroke by stroke as they craft whimsical pictures of subjects such as animals, landscapes, and flora. They also invite guests to bring their own drinks to the party to enhance the fun.
Vines sprout from the red soil, twisting along their supports and craning toward the sun. Bunches of native Muscadine grapes weigh these gnarled vines down until they are harvested by a member of the Cauble family. Generations of Caubles have recreated this scene, overseeing 36 acres of land that is watered by natural underground springs. With the native grapes, the Caubles create exquisite varieties––such as the semi-dry Phyllis Ann, the floral Rosetta, and the barely peppery Monroe––to suit any meal or palate. Guests swing by the vineyard for tastings, art exhibits, and yoga classes held amid the vines. Each year, the setting also hosts numerous weddings as well as a concert series featuring local and nationally renowned artists.
Triad Homebrew Supply’s full-time purveyors of yeast, brew kits, buckets, and tubes dedicate themselves to making homebrewing accessible to all. Long dissatisfied with the paltry materials available in local stores, the owners stock everything from recipe books to elderberries, and they even provide an after-hours number that customers can call to get emergency supplies. Brewing classes, held roughly once a month in the lot outside the store, give newbies an introduction to their art or an efficient way to use up the lifetime supply of barley they won in the lottery.
Helmed by Doctor of Wine Chemistry Robert Wurtz, Stonefield Cellars Winery's team of winemakers craft award-winning, small-batch libations using grapes from an onsite vineyard, as well as from local Yadkin Valley vineyards. The winery offers wine tastings in a tasting room with dark wood accents where cheese and crackers are also available, as well as hot mulled wine on winter weekends. An array of events includes workshops that educate students on different grape varietals, as well as winemaking classes where instructors demonstrate their craft and show off limited-edition grape-stomping boots. Winemakers also guide budding blenders through a bottling program, during which they learn to mix, ferment, and bottle their own wines. Stonefield Cellars also offers regular events such as dinner-and-concert nights or wine-and-food pairings to grant visitors unique ways to taste their wines. In warmer weather, tours and revelers venture outside the tall white barn to frolic under an outdoor pavilion or on rolling green hills.:
Before moving to Charlotte and taking the reins at Old Stone Winery, Darin and Naomi Griffin lived in Germany, where they refined their palates at wine festivals in the Rheingau region. Nowadays, they pass along the fruits of their experience via wines such as their 2007 chambourcin, which won a double gold at the North Carolina State Fair, and their sweet muscadine wine, which won the 2008 Muscadine Cup. The latter was crafted from grapes grown on the winery’s 130-acre estate.
The Griffins strive to use local sources for the rest of their eclectic wine catalog, which encompasses both reds and whites in flavors ranging from sweet to dry. To get a behind-the-scenes look at wine-making without going undercover as a giant grape cluster, you can tour the winery’s tank room, perusing the carved wooden casks and intricate machinery.