A few weeks ago Doug and gassed up and ventured out to the Yadkin Valley here in NC. If you’re a wine lover, you know that Napa Valley is herald as the wine Mecca in the US. However, if you live in NC you don’t have to book a flight to find good wine, beautiful wineries, and expansive vineyards.
The Yadkin Valley is home to more than 70 wineries. Each with their own personality and history. Many of which are family-owned and operated. Needless to say, there is something in the Yadkin Valley to meet everyone’s taste.
During our trip, we had the pleasure of visiting four wineries, and even enjoyed a stay on one of the beautiful properties. Keep reading to find your new favorite winery!
RayLen Vineyards and Winery in the Yadkin Valley
Until 1998, when Joe and Joyce Neely purchased the land, RayLen Vineyards & Winery functioned as a dairy farm. Today, it’s home to 35,000 European varietal grape vines, and a beautiful winery overlooking it all. RayLen currently produces over 10,000 cases of 16 different wines, including Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, and (my personal favorite) the infamous Category 5 Bordeaux blend. With one sip, it’s easy to see why it was awarded “Best in Show” in the Mid-Atlantic Wine Competition for the 2005 vintage.
Micah Habershaw, RayLen’s Marketing Event and Tasting Room Manager, expertly led us through the entire menu. Let me tell you, there wasn’t one wine on the menu that disappointed! Doug and I are both red wine lovers, but we were absolutely blown away by the Chardonnay and the Viogner. They also serve wine slushes, perfect for warm summer days ahead.
RayLen’s Case Club
In addition to special events that will be held at the vineyard throughout the season, RayLen also facilitates their Case Club. RayLen’s Case Club is very different from other wine clubs in that you don’t have to commit to a certain amount of cases each year to join. You’re automatically enrolled after you purchase one case within the year. Case Club perks include free admission to most public events throughout the year, free shipping if you live in NC, access to private events, and exclusive winery hours. Also, the more cases you buy, the deeper the discounts!
RayLen is available for hosting your private event or wedding in the beautiful setting of RayLen Vineyards. Don’t live in NC? That’s ok too! RayLen currently ships to over 25 states in the US. Learn more about RayLen Vineyards and Winery here.
McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks, located on nearly thirty acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a vineyard with a cool twist. Not only do they make small lots of award-winning artisan wines, but also hard ciders (as the name would suggest)!
From owners Sean and Patricia, McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks was destined to be born. Sean’s father was a winemaker in California and Oregon and Sean fell in love with wine making early. He went on to work in wineries and vineyards in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and renowned wineries in many of the world’s premier wine regions (e.g., Alsace Lorraine, Napa Valley, and Australia). In 1998, Sean settles in the Yadkin Valley with his wife, Patricia.
Patricia, previously a criminal attorney and judge, came into the wine and cider business after marrying Sean and starting a family. It was evident that she, Sean, and their growing family were headed for life among the vines and barrels. As a result, Patricia has worked as a business consultant for vineyards and wineries over the last 15 years.
Yadkin Valley Wine and Hard Cider?
During our visit, Doug and I got to sample a flight of their wines as well as the hard ciders. If you had told me I could truly enjoy a cider prior to this visit, I wouldn’t have believed you. However, McRitchie’s ciders, with the perfect amount of sweet and bite, won me over instantly. The fact that they are able to do wines and ciders equally well makes this location a gem. You can take in a bottle of wine or a glass of cider while enjoying beautiful views of the Yadkin Valley and a cool breeze. Despite the rising temps, our station under a large tree made for the perfect spot to chat and sip for hours.
The 2014 Ring of Fire Red was our favorite wine from the tasting. This wine is a blend of merlot and Sangiovese grapes, layered with dark fruits, hints of earth, moderate oak, and a lightly spiced finish. Can we all say–YUM! The rose’ and dry ciders were also winners for me.
McRitchie’s Wine Club Perks
Fall in love with McRitchie’s offerings? The wine club offers many perks includig four shipments of wine each year, member’s only events (including Annual Picnic), free tasting fees waived for member and guest, and more! Learn more about McRitchie here.
Jones Von Drehle Estate Winery in the Yadkin Valley
If you’re looking to support multiple wineries on your visit, Jones Von Drehle is the perfect companion to McRitchie. Only fives minutes down the road, the family owned Estate Winery, produces wines solely from the thirty acres of vines they grow on the property.
Founders Chuck and Diana Jones and Ronnie and Raymond von Drehle are in-laws. It all started with a mission to start a fine wine vineyard and winery in their home state of North Carolina. What started as hobby vineyard in Roswell, GA has a grown into a vineyard that now boasts the highest planted elevation in the Yadkin Valley.
Jones Von Drehle offers a catalog of old world French style inspired wines. This includes a Viogner that recently won “Best in Show” for NC Fine Wines, and a Chardonnay that retains it’s bright an crisp flavor because it doesn’t go through malolactic fermentation. That is, it’s not buttery like many chardonnays. Jones Von Drehle wines are also aged longer than most wines, which gives them their distinct taste.
Not only are the wines delicious, but the venue is absolutely stunning. Currently, there is a tasting room and an indoor event space. Jones Von Drehle will be opening an outdoor event space that will seat 1,000 to 1,500 visitors. This space will host concerts and festivals, but will also be open to corporate events and other scheduled events. Learn more about Jones Von Drehle here.
After their 2008 wedding, the Whites, co-owners with the Jeroslows, discovered Elkin Creek Vineyard. The two families envisioned a place where people could gather around great wine, delicious food and beautiful surroundings. When the opportunity to acquire Elkin Creek arose, the couples took it!
Established in 2001, Elkin Creek winery overlooks The Big Elkin Creek and the century old Elkin Creek Mill. The vineyards are comprised of four acres of Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Elkin Creek wines are generally crafted in European inspired styles, and are available by vintage and time of year.
Not only are weddings and other special events hosted at Elkin Creek, but every Sunday they open their kitchen. Their wood fire pizza has rave reviews and is so popular, it’s recommended that you reserve your dough in advance!
In addition to great wines, wood fire pizza, and a beautiful tasting room and event space, there are also cabins on site for rent. And I do mean ADORABLE fully stocked cabins! Doug and I were able to spend an evening in cabin number one with a full view of the creek. The porch swing in the evening with a bottle of wine was absolute perfection. That was the first time in a long time I got to watch fireflies while enjoying the sounds of nature. Plus, the oversized tub added an additional layer of relaxation. There are four cabins on site, and I’m already planning to visit again with family and friends. Learn more about booking your next stay here.
Have you visited the Yadkin Valley? If so, what’s your favorite winery? If not, which of these wineries would you visit? Get on planning your next trip to the Yadkin Valley today! In the meantime check out my latest blog post here.