What’s the nation’s oldest wine-producing state? That would be North Carolina, although the wine industry came to a halt for a while after the hiccup of history called Prohibition. With more than 100 wineries now, we’ve certainly gotten back to work. Here are a few to consider:
▪ McRitchie Winery and Cider Works, Thurmond. The McRitchie family has wine roots that stretch back to California and Oregon, and they were pioneers among the Yadkin Valley vineyards north of Charlotte. They’re know for both wines and hard ciders (www.mcritchiewine.com).
▪ Raffaldini Vineyards & Winery, Ronda. With Italian wines served in a tasting room that looks like an Italian villa, this may be one of the state’s prettiest wine stops. It’s an easy day trip from Charlotte (www.raffaldini.com).
▪ RayLen Vineyards and Winery, Mocksville. The red wines grabbed fans early as one of North Carolina’s most promising vineyards. Sit in a rocking chair and enjoy the hilly view (www.raylenvineyards.com).
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▪ Childress Vineyards, Lexington. Where else can you stop for a wine after a barbecue lunch? Racing team owner Richard Childress built this impressive chateau with a tasting room, tours and a bistro (www.childressvineyards.com).
▪ RagApple Lassie, Boonville. A family farm for three generations, it started as a tobacco farm before making the switch to grapes and wine (www.ragapplelassie.com).
▪ Duplin Winery, Rose Hill. While most N.C. wineries focus on dry, varietal-style wines, Duplin stuck with native scuppernong and muscadine wines, a sweeter style with a long history (www.duplinwinery.com). Duplin recently opened a location in North Myrtle Beach.
▪ Brushy Mountain, Elkin. The tasting room in downtown Elkin has become a gathering place with local music, a comfortable place to sit and listen (www.brushymountainwine.com).
▪ Shelton Vineyards, Dobson. With a restaurant, hotel, outdoor concerts and tours, this is easily one of the biggest wineries in the region (www.sheltonvineyards.com).
▪ Starrlight Mead, Pittsboro. Not all wine is made from grapes. Mead, or honey wine, is a very old tradition (www.starrlightmead.com).
▪ Waldensian Heritage Wines, Valdese. The Waldensians came from the Italian Alps, and this charming winery, with a tasting room in a rustic barn, celebrates the heritage of homemade, Italian-style wines using local volunteers (www.waldensian.com).