For connoisseurs of wine and relaxation, an afternoon exploring RagApple Lassie Vineyards is time very well spent. Perfect for couples enjoying a weekend road trip, or for a girls’ outing when it’s time to get away and rejuvenate, the vineyard is tucked away amid rolling hills (that’s the Hobson family farm) and situated with scenic Pilot Mountain just off in the distance.
With enormous affection for the Hobson family history – Frank Jr. is the third generation to farm this land – Lenna and Frank Hobson Jr. have made RagApple Lassie a must-see stop for travelers through the small Yadkin Valley town of Boonville, and the couple has embraced the success of the vineyard as a true labor of love.
Although their initial intent was simply to grow grapes for market, the two began researching the endless possibilities, and with much enthusiasm, made the commitment to start their own winery on the perfectly situated 35 acres. Ask them and they’ll tell you that coming up with the name was perhaps the most fun part of the endeavor. “Most vineyards are named for the land or the location,” says Lenna. “But I knew it had to be something catchier!”
Look closely at the RagApple Lassie logo and you’ll immediately fall in love with the pretty black-and-white Holstein dressed as the ultimate Southern belle in her pearls and little black dress, with her ankles neatly – and properly – crossed. The name honors Frank Jr.’s prize-winning calf growing up, and carrying on her personality via the business was a natural step. Just for good measure, she also sits on a left-facing crescent moon, thought to mean good luck in Chinese.
Lenna is the marketing guru behind the business while Frank Jr. is the quintessential farmer. Planting their first vines in 2000, they delivered a small vintage in 2001 and opened RagApple Lassie to the public in 2002. Despite its off-the-beaten-path locale, the vineyard has earned a national presence with several awards and features in both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Only sold locally in Total Wine stores, the vineyard’s finest is also on the menu at Graylyn in Winston-Salem, the Angus Barn in Raleigh, and at the Fearrington House Restaurant in Pittsboro, NC. “We currently offer 12 wines, with eight of the 12 equal best-sellers,” says Lenna. “We believe that speaks a lot about the quality of our wines.”
Tours and tastings are done “on demand” but the Hobsons prefer that parties of 10 or more call ahead so they can be prepared to offer them personal attention and detailed commentary on each wine. They frequently hold book signings and offer everything from charming aprons and totes to RagApple Lassie cocktail napkins and rhinestone-encrusted logo t-shirts in the gift shop, along with wine glasses and other wine essentials. It’s a setting that is lively and welcoming, as visitors gather around the tasting bar for a sip of impeccable wine, mingled with lively conversation and a story or two from the owners. You’ll also notice an adorable array of cow-themed memorabilia that customers bring when they visit – from all over the country.
RagApple Lassie offers lunch in the café on weekends and live music on Saturday evenings, in-season, which usually begins around Easter, depending on the weather. The venue can accommodate small wedding receptions but they like to keep events low-key and focus on what they do best. “Our business is wine!” says Lenna.
Among the don’t-miss selections: Rockford Red, sipped with bite-sized morsels of their own bleu cheese, and the appropriately named Boonville Blanc, best when alternated with nibbles of their heavenly white chocolate/coconut candy – a flavor combination that Lenna says will be the “best pina colada you’ve ever tasted!”
Just down the road is Hobson House – Frank’s parents’ former home – which serves as the winery’s guest cottage. The classic bungalow-style hideaway is available for rental and offers the perfect spot for rejuvenating the body, mind and spirit – with wine and cheese, of course. Simply said, RagApple Lassie Vineyards and Winery is an amazing blend of all the best things: love, family and truly superb wine!
Experience the uniqueness of RagApple Lassie Vineyards and Winery for yourself. Located at 3724 RagApple Lassie Lane in Boonville, NC, the winery is open daily from noon to 6 p.m. Call ahead for larger groups at 1-866-RAGAPPLE and visit their website at www.ragapplelassie.com for news and upcoming events.