Have you considered a Winston Salem Weekend Getaway? One of the best trips my husband and I ever took, was a week long excursion to Napa and Sonoma Valley. We had an absolute blast sipping (and occasionally gulping) wines, taking in the scenery, and exploring the culinary scene. We’ve had conversations about trying to get back, but details like money, our children, and taking the time off keep coming up. I’m sure you can relate. But, after seeing Cindy William’s guest-post on a day trip to the Yadkin River Valley, I got inspired…. What if it was possible to have a similar experience in our North Carolina “back yard.”
Well, folks…. it’s all possible. Ever heard of the Yadkin River Valley? It’s Wine-Heaven in North Carolina
Jon and I got back just last night from one of our favorite North Carolina trips. We left Charlotte on Friday around 4pm to try and beat rush hour traffic. By 5:30 we were at RayLen Vineyards sipping wines with Christopher and tasting room manager, Johnny Marshall. (Pictured above.) Not knowing much about North Carolina wines (excpet that a lot of them are sweet, which is not my thing), our new friends walked us through their offerings and we found many, many favorites. So much so that we joined the wine club. Yep, free shipping of local wines straight to your door. That’s something I can appreciate!
We left RayLen feeling quite “spirited” (but not drunk!), and continued on to our hotel in Winston Salem, the Historic Brookstown Inn. The hotel is an old mill turned charming boutique hotel. The room was spacious and comfortable, but we enjoyed the community amenities the best: free morning breakfast, complimentary wine and cheese for happy hour, then good-night cookies and milk. Sweet!
After settling into the hotel, our tummies started to grumble. According to many sources, we were told that Mozelle’s was the place to go. Maybe it was all of the wine we had leading up to dinner, but neither Johnny nor I loved the dinner. It was good, but I don’t know that I would go back. Where would I go back?? Mary’s Gourmet Diner (formerly Breakfast of Course). Darn good. My breakfast on Saturday morning was this amazing pimento cheese stuffed omelette with crunchy potatoes and topped with the local hot sauce, Texas Pete. I could totally eat that for every breakfast for the rest of my life… Sure I’d be tubby, but it’d be worth it.
Visiting various wineries was on our schedule for the rest of the day. Based on past experience, I knew that we could manage about three to four different visits, which proved to be right. We set out in the direction of the Swan Creek AVA, where five wineries were in close proximity. First we hit up West Bend Vineyards and Brewery. The wines were great, but I really enjoyed that the vineyard also made their own craft brews. The perfect two-for-one stop!
From there we set out for Raffaldini Vineyards. Talk about setting. Set on a gorgeous estate (which reminded us of Gloria Ferrer in Sonoma), this vineyard is impressive. Raffaldini has a more “formal” tasting setting where you get the official walk through of the wines (unlike RayLen, which was super personable). Like RayLen, however the wines were better than what I would have expected from North Carolina. Yep, we signed up for a wine club here too, and walked out with an impressive selection of Raffaldini wines.
None of the wineries we visited boasted much of a restaurant, so it worked out well that I picked up some picnic items from the Fresh Market on Friday before leaving town. In the early afternoon, we set out on the vineyard patio with a glass of wine and my basket of goodies: aged cheese, sliced deli meats, foccacia, and fruit. Truly a great lunch.
Well on our way to “wino” status (I reached Official Level 2 Wino Status on FourSquare this day!), we hit up Shadow Springs and Windsor Run next. Shadow Springs overlooked a lovely pond, and we had a perfect fall afternoon tasting in the open, log-cabin room setting.
We wrapped up the day at Windsor Run. Why? Because they have their own distillery and make brandies! Color my husband, “Sold!” We got an informal tour of the distillery room and had the most quirky tasting of the day. Yep, we walked out with “Hillbilly Holiday” Brandy. You know our Thanksgiving dinner is gonna be fun!
By dinner time we were kind of “wined”out, so Foothills Brewing Company was the perfect solution. They have an impressive on site brewery, tasty food (that Buffalo Pizza Pie really hit the spot), and knowledgeable staff that gave us a fun history about the various brews.
We had to hit the road early on Sunday, but I would have preferred to explore more in the Yadkin Valley and taste more wines. Clearly I have an insatiable palette. For wines, that is. Instead, we discovered Ollie’s Bakery, a short walk from our hotel. The bakery case was heaven for the eyes. The coffee was heaven for my soul.
Our trip was short, but it was a real vacation. We explored, relaxed, had fun, and made the most of the 36 hour getaway. I cannot wait to round up a group of gals and head back for a Ladies Weekend! Who’s in?
For more wineries in the Yadkin Valley, visit: http://www.yadkinvalleywineries.com/
Winston Salem is a PERFECT over-night spot for your Yadkin River Winery Weekend (say that three times fast). For more on activities and dining in Winston Salem, visit: http://www.visitwinstonsalem.com/
*To facilitate my review, I did receive a complimentary stay at the Brookstown Inn. All opinions are of course my own.