BY JEAN MARIE JOHNSON
Did you know that the Yadkin Valley is considered North Carolina’s first American viticultural (winegrowing) area? Or, even better, that there are many wineries to visit within a 20-mile radius of Clemmons? And, how about the fact that wineries in our area have the greatest success with Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot? Who knew?
These fun, “nice-to-knows” are three more reasons to add “visiting wineries” to your list of winter diversions. We come for the beverage, of course, but the ambiance and company of fellow wine lovers (even if we’re socially distanced) is a big part of the experience. Keep in mind that many wineries offer special hours, tours, packages and unique events. But do call in advance to confirm, then grab a fellow “grape-lover” and head outside to a vineyard or a vinyard. Whether you prefer the spelling with or without an “e,” here’s a “tasting” to consider:
Just 23 miles west of Clemmons is 40 acres of beautiful land known as Brandon Hills Vineyard. Known as a boutique vineyard, this scenic retreat allows for hours of enjoyment among the breathtaking landscape. The guiding philosophy at Brandon Hills Vineyard is “Stay small to ensure that maximum attention can be devoted to care for the grapes, meticulous farming produces better grapes and therefore better wine.” The vineyard is pet friendly and is open Saturdays and Sundays in February as well as Fridays-Sundays March through December. For more information, visit the website at brandonhillsvineyard.com or call 336.463.WINE. Brandon Hills Vineyard is located at 1927 Brandon Hills Road in Yadkinville.
The site of a historic grist mill built in 1896, and gracing a special spot where two creeks join together to become one, Elkin Creek Vineyard is a one-of-a-kind destination. Experience a blend of tradition, passion and nature celebrated by the art of winemaking that is captured in each handcrafted bottle of wine. Find respite in creek side cabins, savor food from the heart of the kitchen and celebrate special moments in a place graced by nature’s beauty in every corner. Located one hour north of Charlotte and only twenty minutes from the Virginia border, it is a “hidden gem in the Yadkin Valley with quite a story to tell,” according to an article in the Winston-Salem Journal. For more information, visit elkincreekvineyard.com or call 336.526.5119.
Childress Vineyards can be found 18 miles south of Clemmons in Lexington. Here, you’ll experience the dream incarnate of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress. Opening its doors in 2004, Childress offers a beautiful tasting room along with an on-site bistro, curbside pickup and a gift shop.
Located in southeastern Yadkin County and established in 1996, Hanover Park Vineyard was the first winery in Yadkin County. Just 17 miles west of Clemmons, this vineyard boasts old-world ambiance and world class wines often likened to those from the Rhone River Valley in France. Guests are invited to come for a visit and relax under the shade of the old oak trees. Hanover Park Vineyard is the perfect place to indulge in a wine flight or bottle of wine that will appeal to wine connoisseurs and novices alike.
Medaloni Cellars is 22 acres of rolling hills located in North Carolina’s beautiful Yadkin Valley. Located 10 minutes outside of Winston-Salem, Medaloni Cellars is a beautiful addition to the Yadkin Valley wine trail to be toured by wine lovers from all over. Not only does Medaloni Cellars offer wine tastings, but it is also a venue designed to host events such as weddings, family reunions, birthday parties and other entertainment events, as well! Enjoy a romantic sunset with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you sip on a glass of elegant Medaloni Cellars wine. They even have cabins available for rent! A perfect, sweet getaway for two!
Divine Llama Vineyards, a mere 15 miles north of Clemmons in East Bend, opened its tasting room in 2009. Get ready to snap a few shots because it’s nestled among 91 beautiful acres that includes 20 acres for the llama and miniature horses. Varietals include Chardonel, Traminette, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Marechal Foch, Albarino, Seyval, Petit Manseng, Cayuga White, Petit Verdot and Chambourcin.
Westbend Winery and Brewery, established in 1972 and located in Forsyth County, is regarded as “the original Yadkin Valley Vineyard.” Located on 40 rolling acres on Williams Road in Lewisville, Westbend is steeped in tradition while current with the times. It offers the fruit of the vine as well as dozens of lagers and ales. Westbend hosts local, live music every Saturday and Sunday.
Sanders Ridge Winery is located 24 miles northwest of Clemmons in Boonville. Here you can sip wine by the waterfront, enjoy a light lunch from their Market Menu, toast s’mores by their fire tables and enjoy their expansive outdoor seating areas. There is even a cabin in the woods where you can get off the beaten path for a weekend or even a week!
RayLen Vineyards and Winery is located just off of Highway 158 in Mocksville. RayLen (named for the owners’ daughters) opened in 2000 and offers more than 35,000 European varietal grapevines. This winery offers breathtaking views, a serene atmosphere and a number of award-winning wines.