We recently made our way to the western part of the state for our first visit to FernCrest Winery. We had met Jan Olson several times at various tasting events in North Carolina. We were impressed with her wines and started planning a visit. She and her husband, Kurt started making wine in their home with wine-making kits. Their hobby has grown into a passion. In 2007 they purchased grapes from vineyards in north Georgia. They began growing their own grapes in 2010 in their vineyard a few minutes from their tasting room in downtown Andrews. Their first-grown grapes were Chadonel, Vidal Blanc, and Cynthiana. In addition to North Georgia, they also source from their grape partners in North Carolina to produce their award-winning wines. The winery opened commercially in 2014.
Ferncrest Vineyard and Winery is located in North Carolina but is a part of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands American Viticultural Area (AVA), located in north Georgia. AVAs don’t have to adhere to state lines. Ferncrest comes from their vineyard’s location and Kurt’s love of ferns. Each wine is named after a particular variety of ferns. The vineyard is located on the crest of a hill in the Snowbird Mountains.
The tasting room opened on Memorial Day weekend in 2016. Walking into their tasting room you will be impressed with the amount and beauty of the ferns and other plants that decorate the room. There are fern plants that you can purchase. We arrived just as they were opening and there were already people before us. Jan led us in our guided tasting of all their wines. Tastings are done at the bar. The price includes a tasting flight and a souvenir glass. Their wines range from dry to sweet. We suggest splitting both tasting options so you can enjoy all the wines they offer. Our standouts were the Royal White with floral notes and a long finish. The Autumn Rose, made from Catawba grapes, is grown in the town of Andrews in Cherokee County. It’s a full-bodied sweet wine that would pair well with spicy food. On the red side, we enjoy the Resurrection Red, their most full-bodied wine with flavors of plum and black currant. Only 3 years after growing their first grapes, Kurt won gold in the Wine Maker’s International Amauter Competition with his 2013 Chardonel and Cynthiana.
Once we completed our tasting we sat inside and had our lunch. They offer snacks from Ashe County cheese, Bear Food’s nut, and Garnet Gals Jams. All the snacks are North Carolina products. Weather permitting there is a courtyard with seating. They are dog and kid-friendly. The tasting room is open year-round but operates on a limited schedule from January to March. Check their website for updated information and events.