What’s the first state that pops into your head when you think of wine country? It may not be North Carolina, but it should be. The state has over 500 vineyards and 185 wineries, making it one of the most under-appreciated wine destinations in the U.S. However, more and more people are starting to flock to vineyards in the Tarheel State for weddings, parties, girls’ weekends, vacations, or even to spend a quiet day to themselves.
Make NC Your New Vacation Spot
However, as with any trip, there are some logistics to handle before you leave. If you want to avoid stress and unforeseen events, it’s best to plan ahead of time, especially if you plan to spend time tasting wines on a wine tour, as most people do. Whether you’re with your girlfriends, on a company retreat, a romantic weekend with your spouse, or a wedding, it’s extremely important to enjoy drinking responsibly to have a safe, enjoyable vacation.
Enjoy Your Vacation Responsibly
The responsible way to enjoy visiting a vineyard is by hiring a designated driver, and that doesn’t mean taking a cab or rideshare, which nobody wants to do. Instead, look for a luxury van service like the Van in Black so you can ride safely and in style. If you go to www.vaninblack.com, you can find more information about their luxury van passenger service, which will bring you and your group comfortably and safely anywhere in western North Carolina or upstate South Carolina. Taking advantage of their on-demand ride service is the perfect way to visit all the best vineyards that gorgeous and scenic North Carolina has to offer.
1. Raffaldini Vineyards
When you see Raffaldini Vineyards in the Swan Creek region of Yadkin Valley, you will think you’ve closed your eyes and been whisked away to Tuscany. It’s located on a hill, with acres of grapes gleaming in the sun, making the perfect backdrop for its quaint little villa and tasting room. There’s even a piazza out front where you can have the ultimate wine-tasting experience shy of actually going to Italy.
The massive Biltmore castle (yes, that’s right, it’s a castle) is located on 8,000 acres in Asheville. Their expansive winery features an extensive wine tasting bar, where you can experience their variety of whites, reds, and rosés. This gigantic estate is also America’s most-visited winery, which is a well-deserved accolade. Their old-world stone walls and barrel room is reminiscent of Renaissance Europe, and they also have excellent food, including locally produced truffles and cheese.
3. Banner Elk Winery
The Banner Elk Winery is situated deep within the rugged but undeniably beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by evergreens and other stately conifers. The tall, proud trees are the perfect accent to the endless rows of grapes, ready to be crushed and made into delicious wine. They’re also the most acclaimed commercial winery in North Carolina’s High Country, and their premium wines feature prize-winning grape varieties. Stay for a day, stay for a week, or book a wedding at their beautiful villa.
4. Duplin Winery
If you are looking for exceptional gourmet food to pair with your favorite wines, then Duplin Winery in Rose Hill is the place to go. The Bistro at their winery has lunch five days a week and emphasizes fresh, locally produced ingredients and farm-to-table cuisine. The muscadine grapes native to that region are one of their main varieties, making for a fruity and uplifting wine with excellent flavor. Come and visit for the food or the wine, or even just come for a quiet evening watching the sunset- Duplin Winery is a great place to spend a vacation.
5.Mountain Brook Vineyards
Nestled in the charming Tryon foothills in Western North Carolina, Mountain Brook Vineyards offer a beautiful winery, tasting room, barrel room, and villa. Established in 2002, they’ve been creating award-winning wines for almost 20 years. The grapes in their winery include Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay, so they have a wine for every taste and preference. Their tranquil property offers some truly amazing views and is an excellent winery to visit for a day tour or even to stay, as they provide excellent hospitality as well.
6. Shelton Vineyards
Shelton Vineyards is located in the Yadkin Valley and also offers an upscale dining experience and has grapes very similar to the season and varieties grown in Europe. Their fertile soil and excellent climate make for some delicious and one-of-a-kind wines, which is why they’re such a popular venue and vacation spot. One of Shelton Vineyard’s best features is its dedication to sustainable farming practices, which gives them the premium-quality grapes that make their wines taste so amazing.
7. Saint Paul Mountain Vineyard
The Saint Paul Mountain Vineyard located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Henderson County is a unique and popular spot. The best part of this vineyard is that it’s also a working orchard, so they produce more fruit than just grapes. They offer wines, ciders, and spirits, so their three tasting rooms are fully stocked with all different types of premium beverages. Their varied selection of exclusive wines includes reds, whites, rosés, and dessert wines, making them one of the most popular spots for a wine tour and tasting.
8. Childress Vineyards
Located in Lexington, NC, Childress Vineyards is smack dab in the middle of the gateway to the Yadkin Valley American Viticultural Area, the first area in North Carolina federally designated for growing grapes. Their sprawling estate features over 70 acres of vineyards and 15 European varietals to produce over 30 different wines. They also have an upscale dining experience in their restaurant called The Bistro, which offers gourmet food to go along with their award-winning wines.
Visit North Carolina’s Wine Country for Your Next Vacation
Next time you plan a vacation, consider heading to North Carolina’s wine country. It offers over 500 scenic vineyards with world-class wines and fantastic food, too, but the eight listed above are some of the best the Tarheel State has to offer. As always, enjoy your wine tasting responsibly and ensure you have a designated driver if you don’t take advantage of the many spots that offer hospitality. The vineyards and wineries in North Carolina may all be different, but they do have some things in common: award-winning wines, breath-taking views, and gourmet food, which is why they’ve turned North Carolina into one of the best vacation spots in the U.S.