A Visitor’s Guide to North Carolina’s Wine Trails
In the last two decades, North Carolina has become renowned as a producer of fine wine because of its native muscadine grape. While wine has been crafted in North Carolina for centuries, the industry has flourished in the last few years, with wine and culinary tourists flocking to the state’s world-class vineyards and wineries. Since North Carolina’s terroir differs dramatically from region to region, 20 wine trails have been established to allow visitors to experience the unique flavor of each area of the state.
Vineyards and wineries along wine trails in western North Carolina offer guests tasting rooms tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or high in the hills for panoramic mountain views. On the other side of the state, vineyards along the Coastal Plain Wine Trail present travelers with a relaxing place to rest on the way to the beach. While the wine trails here are some of the most well-known in North Carolina, wine lovers can find vineyards in all corners of the state.
North Carolina’s first federally recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) is the Yadkin Valley. Since 2003, the Yadkin Valley in the northwestern portion of the state has been a designated wine-grape growing region. It currently boasts more than 35 wineries and over 400 acres of vineyards. The area is rapidly gaining a reputation for world-class wines that highlight the distinctive flavor of its grapes. The valley is located in the Piedmont area, where visitors are sure to enjoy cozy bed and breakfasts, antique stores, and art galleries tucked between picturesque vineyards and wineries. The area’s sites and history paired with its breathtaking protected mountain views make the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail unforgettable.
Those located near or visiting Charlotte might enjoy a day trip to the Uwharrie Mountains Wine Trail. The award-winning vineyards and wineries located along the trail’s 45 miles each offer visitors tours and tasting rooms from which they can take in the scenery and enjoy a relaxing afternoon away from the city. The wine trail, named for the ancient mountains in northeastern North Carolina, takes full advantage of its geography; the varietal wines are crafted from grapes native to the region and reflect the area’s unique terroir. Visitors can begin their day just 45 minutes northeast of Charlotte, while away the afternoon in the Uwharrie National Forest, and enjoy the sunset from the trail’s end on top of Stony Mountain.
Wine connoisseurs can choose from 26 vineyards and wineries along the Western North Carolina Wine Trail. With Asheville at its crossroads, the trail stretches from Lake James to Linville Falls, making it one of the most scenic wine trails in the state. This trail runs through another nationally designated viticultural area, the Upper Hiwassee Highlands AVA; these 690-square miles are recognized for incredibly high quality grapes and wine that highlights their distinctive flavor.
A few other notable wine trails include the Charlotte to Asheville Wine Trail, the perfect way to stretch a two hour drive into an unforgettable afternoon; the Mountain Lakes Wine Trail, along which visitors can enjoy some of North Carolina’s most breathtaking lakes; and the Muscadine Heritage Wine Trail, a trail that celebrates North Carolina’s history of winemaking.