Celebrating Henderson County Wines and Beverages - TribPapers

Celebrating Henderson County Wines and Beverages

Point Lookout Vineyard grapes will soon be turned into a delicious Riesling for consumption. Photo courtesy of Point Lookout Vineyards.

Hendersonville – The vineyards and orchards of the Blue Ridge Mountains have a weekend celebration from April 19-21 when several local wineries and cideries showcase their award-winning wines, artisan hard ciders, and Meads (a class of alcoholic beverages characterized by fermented honey, water, and yeast) with all sorts of festivities. Close to a dozen venues participate in this weekend that coincides with apple blossom season in Henderson County, the top apple-producing county in the state. The stunning apple trees will undoubtedly be in bloom, and the vines at the vineyards will be producing their first buds and flower clusters. So this is a perfect time to visit. Some events are free; others require either a reservation, a fee, or a ticket, so be sure to check the schedule. One can tour the vineyards themselves, and feast your eyes on the mountains nearby, as you taste a new release, or enjoy a local wine that has been paired with chocolate, a charcuterie, or perhaps even popcorn, depending on the winery. Henderson County in North Carolina has a lot to offer wine lovers.

There will be 11 participating locations this year: Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cidery, Bear Falls Wine Company, Bold Rock Hard Cider, Burntshirt Vineyards, Marked Tree Vineyard, Point Lookout Vineyards, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, Sawyer Springs Vineyard, Souther Williams Vineyard, Stone Ashe Vineyards, and World’s Edge Meadery. Each location features special events. Stone Ashe Vineyards will have wine and chocolate pairings; Sawyer Springs Vineyard will have wine flights served with individual charcuterie cups; Marked Tree Vineyard is offering a 4-course meal al fresco prepared by local chefs with local cheeses April 19th ($150); and Souther Williams Vineyards is planning winery helicopter tours of the Crest of the AVA wineries ($149), bluegrass music, country music with Seth and Sara, vocalist Craig St. John, and the band 3 Shades of Gray will all be playing at one of the wineries during this fun-filled Wine & Cider Celebration weekend.

Henderson County produces several award-winning fine wines with the 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 go to the vineyard to find and taste the wine. Few bottles of Henderson County wines are sold elsewhere–in restaurants or retail in this area.

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 tasting room. Thus even close by in Buncombe County these wines are difficult to find. Unlike the Biltmore Estate wines, 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.

There are wine tour services in the county which can transport you from place to place safely and comfortably. Hendersonville Wine Tours is operated by Van in Black. The Regal Ride will pick up and drop off your party from one location to another; Advance Wine Tours has several well-furnished vans to take you to the wine-tasting locations. Some may prefer to stay overnight in the area. Burntshirt Vineyards, which has a location in Hendersonville and Chimney Rock, has a charming stone cottage with two bedrooms on the grounds of the Hendersonville Vineyard. Next door to Appalachian Ridge Cidery and across the street from Saint Paul Mountain Vineyard is The Wallace House, which has 5 bedrooms.

The weekend of April 19th thru the 21st is a great time to visit the vineyards of Henderson County. So much will be going on. A wide variety of award-winning wines can be enjoyed from dry Rieslings to Merlots, to Cabernet Sauvignons to Rosés, to Sparkling wines, as well as the latest new releases. In addition, there are hard ciders and meads to appreciate and enjoy.Discounts on many beverages will be offered. These can be sipped overlooking a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Hiking, picnicking, touring, and listening to music will all be available at all eleven participating vineyards.