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.
Snakes slither in glass display cases, and lizards wriggle in the hands of trained handlers as they're held up in full view of a curious crowd. This is the scene as one of Repticon's presenters educates attendees on the biology, behavior, and typing speeds of exotic cold-blooded creatures at one of the year-round shows held in cities across the country. Reptile and amphibian breeders, scholars, and handlers engage audiences in lectures and demonstrations in the midst of live reptile exhibits, family activities, and displays for exotic-pet supplies. Presentations may focus on the genetics of large snake species, the specifics of exotic-pet care, and the effect that tiny hats have on the image of arachnids such as tarantulas, scorpions, and spiders.
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.
Designed to educate beginner and advanced wine lovers alike, Sip and Savor illuminates the vast arena of vino during classes, tours, and private parties. During their classes, students taste a variety of wines while learning practical skills, such as picking the perfect pairing and ordering from a restaurant's wine menu without first sneaking into the cellar to sip from each bottle. Their tours escort visitors to area vineyards, and Sip and Savor also hosts a wine club, which exposes clients to a well-curated selection of wines from around the globe.
In the 1780s, blacksmith John Davidson moved from his log cabin, Rural Retreat, into Rural Hill, a majestic plantation-style house he built on his 265 acres of fertile farmland. The land and two houses were passed down through the Davidson family in the ensuing years, but in 1886, the mansion burned down. Then, in 1898, the log cabin also burned down, and the family was forced to live in a log kitchen building.
Visitors can still visit that log kitchen building today (it's the only historical residence remaining on the property) and see how hard life could be in an era without such modern conveniences as easy-squeeze mayo. The property has become, among other things, a field-trip destination, where historical re-enactors teach youngsters how 18th-century people baked, lit their homes, and did other basic tasks.
There's plenty of other reasons to visit, too. The secluded hill plays host to special events throughout the year, such as a fall corn maze and a Scottish festival with Highland games. And visitors can hike through nature on its peaceful 5K trail or entertain wedding guests at the cultural center.
Dozens of bottles of wine line the walls and the menu at The Corkscrew. Their selection of more than 30 wines includes reds hailing from Tuscany, Argentina, and South Africa and whites from Portugal, California, and New Zealand. To complement the vino, mixed nuts, olives, and cheeses make for delightful pairings, which can be enjoyed in the chic dining room or on the outdoor patio, where people practice looking regal in case the Google Maps car rolls by.