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.
The tree-topped slopes of the Uwharrie Mountains lead to the observation decks of Stony Mountain Vineyards, where the Furr family produces traditional European red and white wines. In addition to popular varietals such as cabernet sauvignon, syrah, sangiovese, chardonnay, and riesling, the winery produces spirited libations made from raspberries, strawberries, peaches, blackberries, and muscadines. Visitors intrigued by the fruity wines can visit the winery for wine tastings, informative tours, and a panoramic view of the Uwharrie Mountains.
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.
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.
The dueling pianists at Piano Man face off, vying for applause as they blaze through the biggest hits from the last hundred years. As they hit each note with perfection, audience members holler their requests and sing along with the pros, a fact the house prides itself on. When their requests hit the stage, guests can cheers with a host of tropical drinks, including the Malibu Painkiller—a euphoric combination of Malibu coconut, black, and sunshine blended with lemonade, OJ, and sprite—or the Entourage Margarita, with Avion tequila, raspberry liqueur, pineapple juice, and fresh-squeezed lime juice. To make sure they can remember the name of their favorite song, guests can soak up the cocktails with a menu of pub food classics such as burgers and wings.
Pritchard Dennis and his son, Sandon, began making wine together as a hobby. Eventually, the duo planted 200 vines of muscadine grapes, and in 1996, they opened Dennis Vineyards. Their first wine sold out, spawning a waitlist longer than a slow-motion recap of a filibuster on C-SPAN. The wines they've developed since range from the dry Midnight Merlot to the sweet Harvest Gold, whose taste mimics that of a fresh muscadine grape. For curious enophiles, tour guides lead groups on explorations of the vineyard or to the winery for tastings.
Head chef Jon Martinson and owner-sommelier David Soper incorporate fresh local ingredients into a menu brimming with unique tapas, flatbread pizzas, and other seasonal bites. Warm up with an order of rosemary-brown-butter roasted nuts ($5), or submerge tooth divers in the Cajun sweet corn and crab dip ($6). For the main course, shareable small-portion tapas entice diners with a spectrum of unique tastes. Mussels perform tableside feats of strength with a topping of red curry dashi, coconut milk, and miso butter ($8), and grilled flank steak teams up with a locavore-pleasing Clover Farm mushroom and spring-onion bread pudding ($12). At lunch, Nanny’s margherita flatbread tut-tuts unruly hunger ($6), and a mouthwatering pulled-pork sandwich served on a soft bolillo roll dives playfully into tomatillo-ancho chili sauce ($10).