Happy Little Accident: Winery Junkies
Updated: May 31, 2022
May is North Carolina Wine Month. I want to share why we enjoy visiting wineries and how it became our weekend obsession. Charles and I were left to enjoy our empty nest when our youngest son, Griffin, departed for college. Visiting wineries happened by accident. And what a happy little accident it turned out to be! Sidetracked, a local craft brewery was hosting a wine with Overmountain Vineyards tasting. We were drawn to Sophia almost immediately. Sophia is the daughter of the family that owns and operates Overmountain Vineyard. The following Sunday we packed a picnic and set out to visit our very first winery. Not only does Overmountain make some of my favorite wines, but we also fell in love with the people and the casual, laid-back atmosphere. Charles and I talked when we got home about how much fun we had. During that initial trip, we decided we wanted to visit every winery in North Carolina. It didn’t take long before we planned a trip to visit several wineries in a single weekend. Currently, we have visited over 40 wineries, not including multiple trips to a few.
Wineries are like people. Each one has a unique personality with something different to offer with its own signature wine, character, and atmosphere. Of course, we have our favorites, but we always find something to enjoy at each winery we visit. When we first started visiting wineries we always took our own picnic lunch. Typically, everyone in our group brings something to share. Spending time with friends catching up over wine and food is a great way to spend a weekend. Most wineries offer snacks such as crackers, cheese, chips etc. Food trucks have become popular and we check out what trucks will be available before we pack lunch. I am not necessarily a fan of certain types of wines, but there has yet to be a winery that I haven’t enjoyed. Wineries are a great alternative to restaurants because you aren’t rushed to clear a table for another party. If you love being outdoors and want to enjoy the great views of North Carolina, give wine tours a try.
Before we discovered winey tours, we bought our wine at the grocery store. This is not a bad thing, but we didn’t really understand what we were tasting or how to pair it with food. It is a bit overwhelming and confusing when you are faced with so many choices. Most of the wine at the grocery store is from California. Again not a bad thing, but there are so many excellent local North Carolina wines. North Carolina wineries have gained an excellent reputation and the Yadkin Valley area continues to produce award-winning wines year after year.
Winemaking is a complicated scientific process. I was clueless about how much was involved in going from grape to wine. We have learned so much about growing grapes and how to taste wine. My number one piece of advice is to avoid pigeonholing yourself by committing to believing you only like sweet, dry, red, or white. One winery’s sweet wine may not be as sweet as another. As I said earlier, every winery has a unique taste and style. Our first visit to any winery begins with a tasting. It is important to take your time and cleanse your palate after each wine, especially when transitioning from red to white or sweet to dry. Remember, wine is meant to be sipped and savored; you aren’t doing shots!
Wineries often offer tours of the property where you can learn the process and what makes their wines different from another winery. This is also a good time to learn the winery’s history. Each story differs as much as the wines. I love learning the story behind each winery’s creation. I have begun to notice each story has sacrifice, passion, and commitment at its core. I enjoy the artwork on the labels and the personal names attached to the wines. I have nothing against bigger wineries, but my favorite wineries are boutique-style wineries that are usually family-owned and operated. We enjoy meeting winery owners and winemakers who come and introduce themselves. One thing I find amusing is most wineries we have visited are dog owners. The dogs greet you as you arrive and on more than one occasion wines have been named after them. Most wineries offer both outdoor and board games for adults and children. Speaking of children, some wineries are better suited for children due to their space and layout. The same goes for dogs. Check the winery policies on their website before you visit.
I hope you have gained some perspective on why we enjoy visiting wineries. There are a few tips I would offer when visiting wineries. The most important tip is never to take outside alcohol to a winery. That is a big no-no. I would check out their website to get “the lay of the land”. Their website will give you valuable information before you go, especially with COVID protocols in place. Several wineries require a reservation to ensure social distancing. If you have any questions send them an email. I have found most respond quickly. You can also check out the types of wines they offer, food trucks available, and live musical events. Great local acts add so much to the perfect afternoon. We try to arrive early to get a good table, especially if taking a group. We often plan a visit to two wineries in a day. This takes a little planning and pacing. We typically eat lunch at one and dessert or a snack at the other. I would advise no more than two in one day. If you opt for more than two, it becomes more than that it becomes more of a tasting. You snap a quick photo and then you are off to the next vineyard. Take a small cooler of water for a couple of reasons. I like to alternate water and wine. The point is to enjoy the wine and savor the time with your group, not to get drunk. I find this very important in the warmer months. Most wineries offer water, both plain water, and fruit-infused water, but I prefer to take our own. Wineries make beautiful wedding venues and you may even get to witness the nuptials from afar of course. A few items I always take are a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a trash bag. You may not always be able to sit in the shade. It is the best etiquette to always clean up after yourself, your children, and your dogs.
I hope you found this blog helpful and you enjoy wineries as much as we do. We would love to see your picture of your winery trips. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Don’t forget to sign up with your email so that you never miss a post.