McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks
Located on 30 acres of land in the Yadkin Valley, McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks produces small batches of exceptional wine and ciders. Owners, Sean and Patricia McRitchie use minimal influence in the production of grapes that are ripened by the sun and alcohol converted to sugar. Sean McRitchie grew up around wine production in Oregon and later worked in the Willamette Valley. He later pursued job opportunities in Napa Valley and Australia. In the late 1990s he moved to North Carolina and helped to create one of the most established wineries in the state before starting his own winery/vineyard consulting business. Patricia started her career as an attorney and judge before she and Sean married and started a family. With a young family in tow she changed her career focus and now works as a business consultant working with vineyards and wineries. They eventually decided to use their extensive knowledge to produce their wines. In 2004 the first vines were planted followed by the winery opening in 2006. 2007 witnessed the opening of their tasting room.
Rather than force the land to grow the grapes they studied the soil and climate to choose grapes that would flourish in their corner of the Yadkin Valley. They produce estate wines and source from other Yadkin Valley grapes. They also source apples for their award winning ciders. Their tasting room grounds are home to herb and vegetable gardens that supply food for the winemaker dinners. Birds and butterflies make their home in the garden as well. If you want to see sustainability in action you need to visit Sean and Patricia.
On our first visit we made a reservation for the Vintner wine tasting. This is a seated, guided tasting with Sean or Patricia. The day we went Sean was our host. This is the way tastings should be conducted. We enjoyed each wine, discussion and background and absorbed all of Sean’s wine making knowledge. You should allow at least an hour for this tasting. Patricia also served a charcuterie board to enhance the flavors of the wine. Sean was extremely helpful in discussing our upcoming trip to Napa Valley. He had many suggestions. If you are interested in a Vintner wine tasting you will need to make an online reservation. If you would like a more informal tasting experience you can choose the wine flights. This is perfect for visitors with dogs and/or children. They are done outside on the patio. The standard bar tasting is also available. Reservations for wine flights and standard tasting are recommended. Walk-ins are welcome assuming they have adequate space and staff. Once you know the wine you like you can always purchase a bottle and enjoy it on the beautiful grounds.
We started with the 2021 Fallingwater White. It was a blend of Chenin Blanc and Vidal Blanc. It had a big mouth feel for a white wine. Our next wine was the 2020 Muscat Blanc. It was floral on the nose with a bone dry feel on the finish. The next wine was collaboration wine between Sean and his nephew, a winemaker in Oregon. It was a beautiful blend that was fruit forward. The next two wines were a mini vertical tasting of sorts. The 2014 and 2016 Ring of Fire Red. I felt the 2014 had a more dry finish, but both had huge fruit on the nose. The last wine was their 2010 port style red wine. Sometimes dessert wines can be heavy like syrup but with its 18% ABV level it wasn't heavy at all. It paired very well with the dark chocolate.
Once we finished our tasting we moved outside to enjoy the sunshine, good wine and great company. By this time the patio seating was beginning to fill up. Don’t leave before you stroll around the tasting room. There are many picture spots that will make a great memory. McRitchie is not a quick stop. Allow yourself time to stroll the grounds and take in the local and family painted art in the tasting room. It has taken us a while to visit McRitchie, but it will be on our “return” list. We have said many times one reason it’s so hard to visit every winery in North Carolina is we keep returning to the same ones because of the wine and the people.