The Yadkin Valley Wine Tours travel among the vineyard rows and through the dark cool of barrel cellars, letting guests get up close and personal with the wineries of the Blue Ridge Mountains foothills. Chauffeured excursions by van or bus roll along back-country roads and scenic highways and make stops at wineries along Swan Creek, Shallowford Trail, Yadkin River Trail, and others.
At each winery, the guide unveils a little piece of North Carolina's winemaking heritage, explaining why the area's grape-growing climate is considered similar to that of Burgundy and the Italian Piedmont, just with much, much more distant views of the Alps. Afterward, a wine tasting lets everyone drink in the local flavor and learn proper tasting technique. Tours often follow the themes of the season, combining wine tasting with mining for gems in the summer, taking in the changing foliage in the fall, and stops at toasty fireplaces in the winter.
Creeping across a 5-acre swath of the Haw River Valley, 16 varieties of grapevines sprout from fertile, sandy soil, twisting their leafy arms around trellises and soaking in the lush, grape-growing climate. Benjamin's artisan enophiles hand pluck each of the muscadine, french, and hybrid grapes that blanket this vineyard. The grapes are escorted into the afterlife inside fermenting barrels where they live on as red and white wines for every taste—from dry dinner varietals and sweet country classics to seasonal bouquets. The whole creative process is observed by spectating visitors who wind through the idyllic facilities on self-guided tours—often including picnics on the winery’s covered porch, or perusals of of local art at the gift shop.
As an ecofriendly facility, Benjamin Vineyards & Winery employs sustainable practices, such as composting agricultural products, recycling bottles and other reusables, and growing plants with nightly bedtime reading instead of pesticides.
Have you ever looked a tiger in the eye? Felt the whole-body impact of lions roaring? Watched wolves romp through the woods?
These and other exciting experiences are possible at the Conservators Center, a wildlife conservancy with a focus on education, conservation, and rescue that is home to more than 80 animals. You're guaranteed a unique and up-close view of breathtaking exotic animals.
An "oofing" at the Conservators Center is an experience you'll have to feel to believe. It's the earth-shaking sound our lion prides make when they roar to one another. Our guides call to them on every tour, and you may have the opportunity to hear them from just 5 feet away! Most of our friendly and curious lions, tigers, leopards, and wolves enjoy greeting and observing their visitors. You will be equally enchanted by our smaller species, which include binturongs, New Guinea singing dogs, lemurs, servals, and jungle cats.
Learn about our residents' individual stories, some of their unique habits, each species and its role in its ecosystem, and how we provide excellent care for our residents. Every visit from you helps support them!
See our website for more information about our tours and events, and to make advance reservations. Then come visit and awaken your wild side!
While in Sonoma on business in 1992, tech entrepreneur Max Lloyd fell in love with the fermented grape. Though his father and grandfather had been in the business of winemaking, it wasn't until his encounter with California-grown, European-style varietals that he resolved to dabble in the family trade himself. Launched as a part-time project in Virginia and transplanted to its current location in 2001, Grove Winery and Vineyards culls its grapes from two estate vineyards that span more than 70 acres in addition to a handful of local vineyards. The staff meticulously handpicks the grapes and gently presses them with a basket press to yield their fresh milk.
Fortifying wine with brandy is nothing new. Hundreds of years ago, old world sailors would add the spirit to their casks before transporting them from Portugal to London, saving the wine from spoiling en route.?
Thanks to planes and very advanced catapults, this practice is less of a necessity today. But at Game Beverage Company Co., the team still honors the fortifying tradition: they distill their brandy until it's 80% alcohol, then blend it into wines such as the dry white Two Step and the Tipper Apple Wine, an off-dry cider.?Aside from wines, they also distill their own Sorghum Cane spirit with house-grown sorghum, and produce a zesty apple brandy. Each of these drinks is evidence of their devotion to Chatham County, made with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
After earning more than 50 national awards for its beer since the 1990s, Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery turned its attention from microbrewing to microdistilling. At Top of the Hill Distillery, each batch begins with 100% organic soft red winter wheat from Scotland Neck, which distillers handcraft into a line of award-winning liquors. Those include one of the country's five wheat-based whiskeys, a sweet-tasting vodka, and a gin that packs subtle hints of vanilla, black pepper, and hazelnut. When they're not making libations, the Top of the Hill team lead tours through its USDA-certified organic distillery, which culminate in tastings of each spirit.