After our first morning's huge breakfast (this would be Saturday), we headed out for an afternoon of wine tasting. Armed with several pamphlets and maps, we figured hitting four would be about right. Seriously, if you do much more than this, every wine starts tasting the same plus your resilience/resistance goes down and you might end up taking home cases of crappy wine that tasted a lot better when you were two sheets to the wind!
Our first stop was Shelton Vineyards (where we'd had lunch the previous day). This, along with Childress, is buy far the largest, most commercial winery in the area. We were on a mission to pick up a particular bottle of wine for someone else; this is the primary reason we went. However, since we were there, we tasted! In addition to getting a bottle of the Malbec (that Mr. B had with his lunch the day before), we ended up with six bottles of their Cabernet Franc, which, as it happened, was also on sale. Yey for good wine sales!
After Shelton, we went to the Swan Creek wineries (a sub set of wineries in and around the Yadkin Valley). We had to visit Buck Shoals as we'd both really liked their meads (both tasted and bought at the NC Wine Festival in 2008). We were hoping to see Dana the wine maker (the guy that looked like Grandpa Jones in the show Petticoat Junction (if you don't know what I am referring too, you're too young)). Alas, he wasn't around but some of his newest concoctions were!
One great thing about Buck Shoals is they have over 10 things to taste; so, you're going to find something you like. We actually liked it all, but certainly some more than others. We ended up buying a dry red blend (probably Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chambourcin) as well as several bottles of their newest varietal, Chambourcin. We also bought another bottle of the Blueberry Mead (thoroughly enjoyed it before) plus a new blackberry wine with honey, aptly named Blackberry Cobbler. Finally, they have a port-style wine called Midnight Royal which was quite yummy. BTW, the Apple Mead we bought in '08 (and still have two bottles of) is worth over $75 now because they ran out of it and a lot of people want it! We paid, I think, $12!
After Buck Shoals, we headed over to Raffaldini, whose tasting room, as we were told by Hannah, did look quite a bit like an Italian villa.
We really enjoyed our tasting there; probably because the lady who took care of us, Kim, was extremely personable. Incidentally, they had a different way of doing tastings. Rather than everyone crowding around a long bar or counter (which is how every winery I've ever been to has done it), they had you wait for an opening at one of several mini stations (this sort of reminded me of waiting for a table at a restaurant). Each mini station could hold up to six people so the tastings were quite intimate. Anyway, the wines at Raffaldini were of the Italian style (yum). We decided to join their wine club (free to join; six bottles of wine shipped twice yearly). Since we joined the club and will get a shipment in February, we only bought two bottles of wine while there (and a glass of wine each to sip while looking at the various arts and crafts upstairs as they were having a festival there that day).
By this time, even though we'd only been to three wineries, we were starting to feel a bit as if we'd better take care not to start buying crap. So, we decided to head to the last winery of the trip, Flint Hill. This was quite a distance from where we were at and we barely made it in time for a tasting before they closed down the tasting bar (5:00 seems to be the usual time). All the wines were decent but we really wanted to taste their Chambourcin. We'd fallen in love with it at the festival in 2008. However, the one they were pouring, although nice, was definitely not the same one we'd tasted (and bought) a few years ago. We inquired about it; their 2005? Luckily, they still had a few cases of it stashed away and were willing to part with one. Yey!
After tasting, we had dinner their restaurant, Century Kitchen. Well, we had to sit in the bar since the tables were full all night (even the bar tables were full after 7:00). We each had MEAT. I had a fillet; Mark had a strip steak. Each were HUGE pieces and came with green vegetables and starch. We shared a bottle of their Cabernet Sauvignon. We'd been told their desserts were quite good, but, we were quite stuffed so passed. Although the food was tasty, I didn't think it was as well done as Harvest Grill over at Shelton (plus it was a lot more expensive).
Fully sated, we went back to the B&B. Hannah had left a plate of homemade brownies (so we got dessert, after all!)
Suffice it to say, we crashed early. No matter how you try to pace yourself, a day of wine tasting, drinking and eating does catch up with one!
We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend get-away and will likely return sometime this year. Maybe we can talk a friend or two into going along; my guess is the Spring/early summer would be a perfect time to wine taste and enjoy a picnic!
Who is in?