Hendersonville – Henderson County produces a number of award winning fine wines with this designation AVA on their wine label.The wine region, known as Crest of the Blue Ridge, received the honor of being designated as an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 2019. Over the summer, this AVA was named the 8th best wine region in the country by USA Today.Only regions with distinctive soil, climate, and elevation—-such as Napa Valley and Sonoma—-earn this designation. Classic wines from European vinifera grapes and French-American hybrid grapes are produced in this Henderson County region by the local growers and producers. These are well worth tasting and enjoying. Unfortunately, however, most of the time you have to actually go to the vineyard to find and taste the wine. Few bottles are sold elsewhere–in restaurants or retail.
The production of wine in many of the Henderson County vineyards is usually smaller than allows the vineyard to make it worthwhile for the owners to sell outside its own tasting room. Unlike the Biltmore Estate, production is much smaller and does not allow for further distribution. Thus you must go to the vineyard itself,which usually has a tasting area in a gorgeous spot overlooking the mountains and vineyards to enjoy their wine, just steps from where it was grown,. This is true of Burntshirt Vineyards, St. Paul Mountain Vineyards, and Point Lookout Vineyards as well as many others.
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards was the first winery in Hendersonville when it opened in 2012. The vineyards are on land that has been in the same family for nine generations. The winery sits next to the house where the owner, Alan Ward, grew up. The property includes two venues–SaintPaul Mountain Vineyards tasting room and Appalachian Cidery tasting room.Both venues include indoor and outdoor seating with magnificent views of the vineyards, apple orchards, and surrounding area.
This August Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards earned 11 medals in the 2023 North Carolina Wine Competition in Raleigh, and included in the awards was the winery’s fourth Governor’s Cup. A number of award winning red and white wines have been produced in the French and German traditions.Brandy and artisan hard cider are made from European apple varieties grown on the Saint Paul property Musical events and activities of all sort take place. On Saturday October 21, a mother daughter duo, The Hunnilicious, will be there from 3:00 to 6:00 PM and on Sunday October 22, live music with Brian Ashley and Melanie Jean will be entertaining from 2:30 – 5:30 PM A food truck will be onsite.
Point Lookout Vineyards
Another amazing vineyard, Point Lookout Vineyards, is atop the Southeast slope of Point Lookout Mountain with 30 miles of panoramic views. Mike and Sabrina Jackson began planting vines in 2008. The vines are tucked strategically at an elevation of 2,900 feet to up to 3,000 feet, hugged by the warmth of morning sun and the cool mountain breezes. Point Lookout has a variety of wines, from dry and “less-Dry” Rieslings to Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rose. The wines have received many awards over the years. In fact it has a special wine, which seems to be shipped all over from Florida to Texas, Javine. Red wine and chocolate have long been an esteemed pairing, but given owner Michael Jackson’s history in coffee, this curiously delectable flavored red wine seemed appropriate and is now enjoyed by many. A variety of delicious sounding mead flavors are also available.
In addition there are a number of amenities onsite, including a tasting room/pavilion with a stone fireplace, a bridal and wedding party suite, a wedding ceremony site, and a full-service kitchen. Because of its amazing location and beautiful open rooms, the festive events are always well attended. In addition the setting attracts a number of wedding parties particularly at this time of year. Every Thursday evening, there is what is called a date with Sunset Kisses for $45 per couple. A bottle of wine and specialty charcuterie board will be there waiting for a couple at the table, as the sun sets. On December 7,together with the Hickory Nut Gorge Chamber,there will be a Holiday Gala with entertainment and a live auction. Tickets are now on sale.
The state of the art wine production at Burntshirt Vineyards began in October, 2013. Owners Lemuel and Sandra Oates, recognizing the quality of their fruit and the opportunity to be a part of the thriving North Carolina wine industry, decided to embark on production of their own premium, estate wines. At the heart of Burntshirt are two vineyards housed on 27 acres at 3400′ elevation situated on both sides of the Eastern Continental Divide on the Crest of the Blue Ridge. The Hendersonville location includes the vineyards and winery, offering daily tours and tastings, private event space, and on-site accommodations. The winery features equipment that allows them to produce all of the wine minutes from where the grapes are grown.
Burntshirt Vineyards won the New York International Wine Competition’s NC Winery of the Year award in 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, and most recently in 2020! This is in addition to a number of individual wine awards for their Altitude 3400 blend, their Vidal Blanc, the Reserve Merlot, and many others. For those with a sweet tooth, an interesting peach blend wine—a blend of Gruner and Vidal Blanc and Sugah Sweet Riesling — a silky citrus fruit and a lingering finish that suits the southern sweet tradition—-are available as an on-site purchase or can be shipped.
Events take place all season long at both Burntshirt locations, Hendersonville and Chimney Rock. In Hendersonville every Thursday evening from 6 to 8 PM Musical Bingo, where a snippet of a song is played to be identified for prizes. On the weekend live music and local food trucks will be both in Hendersonville and at the Chimney Rock Tasting Room. On Friday, October 20th, Mr. Jimmy, who was voted one of the Best Blues Performers by the Best of WNC, will be in the Hendersonville location from 3 – 6 PM. On Saturday, October 21st Mike Cash will be performing from 12-2 PM.
There are a number of other vineyards in the Hendersonville area for visitors to explore. Some to consider are Marked Tree Vineyard,(which has planned some exciting Halloween activites, and also has a tasting room in Asheville), Sawyer Springs Vineyard, Stone Ashe Vineyard, and Souther Williams Vineyard in Fletcher. It is well worth the effort to discover why Henderson County was named an American Viticultural Area in 2019, and taste some delicious local wines. An enjoyable afternoon awaits you.