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10 Best Piedmont Wineries

by Brian Clarey

CHILDRESS VINEYARDS; CHILDRESSVINEYARDS.COM

There are about 75 wineries in the North Carolina Piedmont, which is both surprising, because the state government has always held a parochial view of the alcohol business, and unsurprising because America’s first grapes were grown in NC and also because of the moonshine thing. Right in the middle of it all is Childress Vineyards, which began as a passion project for NASCAR driver Richard Childress — moonshine connection! — but has matured into one of the state’s signature wineries.

THE GROVE WINERY; GROVEWINERY.COM

At the head of the Haw River Wine Trail, Gibsonville’s Grove Winery has carved out its own cultural niche with music and food events at the winery, a slate of awardwinning labels — they took 16 medals at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Southeastern Wine Competition — and crossover event like paddle dinners. Plus, my old friend Pamalama works there, upping the awesome quotient considerably.

MEDALONI CELLARS; MEDALONICELLARS.COM

The man who once presided over what I used to call the “Medaloni District” in downtown Greensboro has slowed his roll considerably over the years. His newest venture, Medaloni Celars in the Yadkin Valley, has a growing line of labels and cabins for overnight events; if you follow the on Facebook you can see photos of weekend guests stomping grapes.

WESTBEND VINEYARDS & BREWERY

Perhaps the oldest modern vineyard in the state, Westbend began way back in 1972 with a few crops of French varietals. The vines took and matured, and Westbend released its first bottles in 1990. Now the property tops 60 acres; they added a brewery last year. And in large part to their work, the Yadkin Valley was designated an American Viticultural Area.

GLENMARIE WINERY; GLENMARIE.COM

Over in Burlington, on the Haw River Valley AVA, GlenMarie makes a few dry whites and reds, and a whole slew of the sweet stuff including strawberry wine, muscadine and scuppernong blends and blackberry wine.

STONEFIELD CELLARS; STONEFIELDCELARS.COM

This small Guilford County winery, which opened just five years ago, is owned by Robert Wurz, a California native with a PhD in wine chemistry from UC-Davis. Wurz grows grapes but also buys juice for blends. The line includes more than 20 labels, available at boutique wine shops all over the Triad.

WOLFE WINES; WOLFEWINES.COM

Judging by the Google map, Wolfe Wines sits between the Triangle and the Triad, way out in Snow Camp, with just a single road off the highway coming in. The website says it all: “We are a small family operated winery producing high quality whole fruit, grape and dessert wines.” That’s about it, as far as information goes — the site is a bunch of dead links.

IRON GATE VINEYARDS; IRONGATEVINEYARDS.COM

Still in the Haw River Valley, this former tobacco farm puts out a slate of awardwinning wines. But they also have a summer concert series, a house chef, a house artist, a store in the Holly Mill Mall and a very cool iron gate.

SLIGHTLY ASKEW WINERY; SLIGHTLYASKEWWINE.COM

This Elkin winery bears the distinction of having the best name in the Yadkin Valley, and possibly the entire state. No vines — Slightly Askew buys NC juices and the blends and ages them on site. The wines have great names, too. Examples: Mystic Vision merlot, Summer Daze watermelon white merlot and Elkahol, a green-apple gewurtztraminer.

ZIMMERMAN VINEYARDS; ZIMMERMANVINEYARDS.COM

Out in Trinity, Zimmerman Vineyards built its legend around the story of Sisyphus, the guy who Zeus forced to push a stone up a hill every day, but they choose Camus’ interpretation of the fable: “One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks.” To date, this is the only time I have ever seen a quoted passage from Camus on a winery website.

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