NC Yadkin Valley Getaway: Shelton Vineyards and Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery (Part 2)

NC Wine Getaway on HinesSightBlog; perfect for a girl's getaway. Yadkin Valley Wine Region.

Surry County, which consists of the towns, Mt. Airy, Elkin, Dobson, and Pilot Mountain, is located in the Yadkin Valley Wine region, a federally recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) in the Northwestern part of North Carolina. My friend, Michelle, and I spent two nights in the town of Elkin exploring a few wineries without our kids. It is what I would describe as a perfect girlfriend’s getaway that wasn’t too far from home.

Neither one of us had been to this region of North Carolina nor did we know one thing about wines produced in this area. It was certainly an outstanding education for our taste buds and turned us into Yadkin Valley region wine fans. For this post, I am continuing our story with Day 2 of our Yadkin Valley Wine adventure. If you are just joining us, you need to catch up here.

NC Wine Girlfriend's Getaway in the Yadkin Valley Region, Brushy Mountain Vineyard and Fairfield Inn and Suites in Elkin, N.C.

NC Yadkin Valley Wine Region (Part One) contains the history of the grape in North Carolina, and how this area grows grapes comparable to vineyards in California, Oregon, Washington, and France. On our first night in town, we visited Brushy Mountain Winery, a sophisticated, urban winery in downtown Elkin, N.C.

10:30 am Parkway Wine Tours Meets Us for Wine Tours

NC Yadkin Valley Getaway to tour wine region. Get a driver. We used Parkway Wine Tours

After breakfast at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, our wonderfully-located base in Elkin for the weekend, we were greeted by Billy, our driver with Parkway Wine Tours. By using a service like Parkway, you can visit several wineries in one day safely. With an entire fleet of vehicles, Parkway's cost depends on how many hours you will need a driver, and how many people are in your party. Typical rates are $60 to $100 per hour. It, of course, is a more costly option for just two people, but unless you have a designated driver, I recommend using Parkway or arranging some type of wine tour where transportation is included. Surry County has all of this information available on its website. At each winery, you are tasting four to five wines for each tasting. It can sneak up on you if you aren’t careful. There are some curvy country roads in this area. We were glad to have Billy with us for the day, and he treated us like queens. 

Yadkin Valley Wine Girlfriend's Getaway

Wine Tasting at Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, N.C.

For our first winery, Billy took us about 15 minutes away from the hotel in Elkin to the town of Dobson in Surry County, which is home to Shelton Vineyards, North Carolina's largest-family owned estate. As you drive up to the estate which was established 15 years ago, the gates are impressive.

Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, N.C. Yadkin Valley Wine Region

This is when you think to yourself, “Am I still in North Carolina or did I somehow transport myself to  California’s wine country?”

Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, N.C. Yadkin Valley Wine Region

Michelle and I both agreed that if you only have time to visit a few wineries in the area, you definitely need to add Shelton Vineyards on your agenda because it’s so grand and the landscape is so beautiful.

Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, N.C. Yadkin Valley Wine Region; Very large tasting room.

The tasting room is large, opulent, and more commercial than any of the other vineyards we visited.

Shelton Vineyards sells its wine in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia so if you fall in love with a particular wine, there is a good chance you can buy it at Harris Teeter or another grocery store when you buy your chicken for the week. That's one of the nice things about discovering a wine that you like at one of the state's larger wineries. You know you can get it again easily. 

Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, N.C. Yadkin Valley Wine Region. Perfect winery for families to visit because there is so much land.

With its award-winning restaurant, Harvest Grill on site, and a Hampton Inn and Suites, also owned by the winery less than a mile away, Shelton Vineyards, has certainly positioned itself as a tourist destination in the heart of Yadkin Valley’s wine region. It’s a great place for concerts, picnics, and just relaxing with your family. This is a great kid-friendly winery because there is so much space for your kids to roam.

Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, N.C. Yadkin Valley Wine Region

Shelton Vineyards produces wines that are affordable enough to buy often and incorporate into your lifestyle. I drink wine while cooking dinner at times and Shelton’s 2014 Bin Chardonnay priced under $15 is perfect for that type of occasion.

Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, N.C. Yadkin Valley Wine Region

The Bin Chardonnay, a Gold winner in the NC Commercial Wine Competition, is an unoaked Chardonnay with focused citrus notes with honeydew melon and tropical fruit. It’s perfect for a hot, Southern day. It was probably my favorite there as well as the Sauvignon Blanc, a gold winner in the Pinehurst Wine Competition. My friend prefers to drink white wines in general, and I prefer reds, but she fell in love with the Estate Merlot at Shelton Vineyard, a Gold/Best of Show in the Wines of the South Wine Competition. I, of course, fell in love with the white wines at this winery.

Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, N.C. Yadkin Valley Wine Region;  Bin 17 Chardonnay was a favorite.

Our guide, Angela Hooker, told us that you should drink what your palate wants, and I guess before noon, I like white wine. I think that may be the earliest I have ever had wine in the day. Shelton Vineyards is located at 286 Cabernet Lane, Dobson, NC.  This winery is open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Lunch at Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards

Lunch at Harvest Grill at Shelton Vineyards is a culinary experience.

Harvest Grill is a culinary treat, and a fabulous spot to have an upscale lunch or dinner. Under the
culinary leadership of Executive Chef Paul Lange, the restaurant specializes in a menu using fresh and local ingredients. I ordered the Harvest Grill Field Green Salad with a Crabcake. It came with cornbread croutons that were absolutely delicious. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. This restaurant is probably one of the more expensive ones in the area, but it is fabulous upscale dining. Treat yourself. You’ll love it.  I enjoyed  my lunch with a glass of Bin Chardonnay.

Wine Tasting at Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery in Surry County, N.C.

Grassy Creek Vineyards in Surry County

Billy was waiting for us when we got back in our town car, and he took us about 20 minutes away from Shelton Vineyards to Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery, which is just outside of Elkin in an unincorporated area of Surry County. This vineyard is located about six minutes from our hotel base, and the tasting room is an attractive old barn that used to be a horse stable. It’s quite a different experience from Shelton.  It’s smaller, but has a lot of sophisticated charm even though you are tasting wine in an old horse stable.

The Tasting Room for Grassy Creek Vineyards and Winery is an old horse stable on historic Klondike Farm.

The tasting room was busy with a bachelorette party for a bride and her friends from Winston-Salem, and later a 40th birthday party entourage of about three couples from the Charlotte area, joined us for our tasting.  They walked in, and immediately said, “This is our favorite so far.” Turns out, it was really their first stop, but we all felt at ease and our tasting guide guided us through either a red or white wine tasting.

Interior view of Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery in Surry County

There is a lot of history on this property, and most of it, from an upscale origin. The Hanes Family of the Hanes Hosiery Mill fame bought this property in the early 1920s. When one of the Hanes daughters later married into another prominent North Carolina family, they turned this area into a stylish hunting vacation retreat, known as the Klondike Cabins. The Klondike Farm eventually became a working dairy farm, and produced some of the best chocolate milk in the state. The Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery, established by two couples in 2003, sits on a property with a rich history. All wine is made and bottled in the old, white dairy barn, which is tucked away on property away from the tasting room. 

Grassy Creek Vineyard rents a few luxury cabins on property to vacationers who want to immerse themselves in the laid-back vineyard lifestyle for a few days. Grassy Creek produces white wines, red wines, and semi-sweet wines. The Klondike Farm Golden Guernsey and the Klondike Farm Guernsey Red, are the winery’s best sellers. Both of these are semi-sweet table wines made with a nod to the Klondike Dairy Farm past. Bottles are shaped like milk jugs.

Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery wines in a milk jug in an honor to its dairy farm past.

The 2013 Barbera, a medium body wine full of cherry, plum, and prune flavors was memorable at $30 a bottle. Grassy Creek has a cozy tasting room that makes you want to stay awhile and live a simpler yet chic life.

For me, the semi-sweet red wine at Grassy Creek won me over this time, and I took two milk jugs filled with wine home.  Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery is located on Tasting Room Drive off of Klondike Road, 235 Chatham Cottage Circle, State Road, NC 28676 (an unincorporated community in Surry County).

Grassy  Creek Vineyard and Winery in Surry County

Well, we’re just getting started on this wine tour and we still have three more wineries to visit on this girlfriend’s getaway. We’ll be heading to nearby McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks, Jones vonDrehl, and Elkin Creek Vineyard in our future posts. 

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For your trip planning:
Surry County Tourism

My thanks to Surry County Tourism for partnering with me on curating this special Yadkin Valley Wine Trip. Some expenses were my own and as always, so are my opinions


How to Grill the Perfect Spiral-Cut Hot Dog!

Hot dog! We're in the dog days of a Carolina summer. That means that one of my favorite North Carolina founded restaurants, Firewürst, is selling hot dogs this July to help The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina's Stop Summer Hunger program. This program helps bridge the gap in services for children when school is not in session.  Unfortunately, many youth rely on the school system for hot meals and when school is out for the summer, kids suffer. For the entire month of July, Firewürst, will donate $1 for every Certified Angus Beef® Hot Dog and Veggie Dog sold throughout July (National Hot Dog Month) to this worthwhile program. The restaurant has committed a $10,000 donation, You can participate in the campaign socially by using the hashtag #DogsForDollars. 

Firewürst is consistently rated a top Triangle restaurant, and you will find me in the Harrison Road location every so often.  I asked them how to grill the perfect spiral-cut hot dog at home. I've got their tips for you. 

Hot Dog Grilling TipTry spiral cutting your hot dogs
o   How?
  Put a skewer directly from one end of the dog, right down the middle and out the other end
  Using a serrated knife, cut the dog at an angle starting at one end and rotating the dog as you cut
  Remove the skewer, and you should have an accordion-like spiral-cut hot dog
o   Why?
 First, it looks cool and adds a little style to your dog!
  Second, it allows the dog to caramelize more, really bringing out the delicious flavor of a great hot dog
  Finally, the spiral catches toppings in every crevice, making for a more complete taste in every bite!

Firewürst has two locations in the Raleigh area. Join the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC's efforts to to stop Summer Hunger. I think the kids and I will eat lunch there today. 

Have a great 4th of July weekend, everyone!


Disclosure: This #OutaboutNC post supports charity and had no sponsorship fees. 


Girlfriends Getaway: NC Yadkin Valley Wine Region (Part 1)

NC Yadkin Valley Wine Region (Perfect spot for Girlfriends Getaway)

It’s no secret that Southerners like their sweet tea, but we also enjoy our wine, too. North Carolina was actually the first place in the nation that cultivated the grape vine and it’s the only place in the world where every type of grape is grown.  That’s right. Every type of grape! Because the Scuppernong grape is our official state fruit and we like sweet tea, many people, even a few of our in state residents, think all of our wines are of the sweeter variety, but that is totally false.  

The Yadkin Valley Wine Region

Map of grapes grown in N.C and the different regions. N.C grows every type of grape.
Map credit:  N.C. Winegrowers Association

North Carolina also produces the European-style vinifera grapes. These types of grapes are the same grapes that are grown in California, Oregon, Washington, and France.  These vinifera grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Viognier. The majority of these grapes are grown in one particular cluster in North Carolina called the Yadkin Valley Wine Region. This region is a federally recognized American Viticultural Area (AVA) and is located in northwestern North Carolina. In this particular area of the state which is very near the city of Winston-Salem, there are nearly 40 wineries and about 400 acres devoted to vineyards.

Elkin, N.C. in  Surry County

Downtown Elkin: #OutaboutNC NC Yadkin Valley Wine Guide
One of my favorite shots I took of Elkin that I posted on Instagram. 

For my visit, I chose Elkin, North Carolina to be our base in Surry County. Surry County is home to 17 vineyards, and it would be impossible to visit them all in one weekend. For this girlfriend’s getaway,we mainly concentrated on visiting wineries of the Upper Yadkin Wine Trail as well as Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, N.C, which is state’s largest family-owned winery. We visited six wineries (Brushy Mountain, Shelton Vineyards, Grassy Creek Vineyard and Winery, McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks, Jones vonDrehl, and Elkin Creek Vineyard) in about 48 hours. Yes, we were busy. 

Elkin is about a three-hour drive from Raleigh,and about half an hour from Winston-Salem, N.C. We started our trip at 1:00 p.m. and checked in to our hotel by 4:00 p.m. 

4:00 pm Friday Hotel Check-In at Fairfield Inn and Suites 

Fairfield Suites in Elkin, N.C. Yadkin Valley Wine Region

The Yadkin Valley Wine Region has a lot of accommodations for all budgets, and many of those are adorable cabins and Bed and Breakfast Inns that would be perfect for couples. For this particular trip, since I was traveling with my friend from Wilmington, and we wanted to be close to downtown Elkin, we chose a national hotel chain that was far from cookie-cutter and bland. I selected The Fairfield Inn and Suites in Elkin, which is a great location, close to the wineries we visited and an easy five minutes drive to downtown Elkin. 

Suites at the Fairfield Inn in Elkin

This Elkin hotel has been a top-rated Marriott in the U.S. for several years in a row and is the perfect hotel for family and girlfriend getaways. It was the perfect base for us with attractive common areas. Rooms were spacious, comfortable, and a good price.  Rates are under $150 per night and include breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and wine tastings. I also loved that the hotel had coffee, food, and drinks with easy access all-day; not just for breakfast. 

5:30 pm Friday Wine Tasting at Brushy Mountain Vineyard

Brushy Mountain Vineyard in Elkin, N.C. #OutaboutNC Yadkin Valley Wine Guide

This urban winery in downtown Elkin offers modern day sophistication in the old Elkin Canning Company that operated from 1898 to 1922. With live music in a casual atmosphere, this is the place where you want to buy a glass of wine or two and spend hours.

Brushy Mountain Vineyard in Elkin, N.C. #OutaboutNC Yadkin Valley Wine Guide  Brushy Mountain is in old Canning building.

Winemaker Jason Wiseman makes the wine downstairs in a cellar-like atmosphere, and most of the wines are named after historic places in the area. 

Wines at Brushy Mountain Vineyards are named after historic landmarks and places in the area.

He has produced a fabulous Chardonnay called the “Yadkin Valley” which he has fermented in both stainless steel and aged sur-lie French oak barrels. It was a great combination and one of my favorites. 

Brushy Mountain Vineyard in Elkin, N.C.

Another favorite of mine was the “Red Bud Ridge Red” from the fantastic 2007 harvest, which had a lot of dry days and cool nights, according to Wiseman. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chambourcin. This winery’s tasting room is a must-visit when in Elkin. Brushy Mountain Winery is open Thursday through Sunday afternoons, closing at 5 p.m except on Friday and Saturday evenings. On these nights, it stays open until 8 p.m. Brushy Mountain Vineyard is located at 125 West Main Street in Elkin. 

Winemaker Jason Wiseman with Blogger, Leigh Powell Hines, founder of #OutaboutNC and Hinessightblog
Enjoying a glass of Brushy Mountain wine with winemaker Jason Wiseman

Dining in Downtown Elkin

Downtown Elkin may be a small town, but it impresses with its restaurant selection. Popular restaurants are Heaven’s Scent Restaurant, Fiddle’s Pub, 222 Public House at the Liberty, and Harry’s Place Restaurant and Bar, a local favorite that has been serving residents since 1954, serving seafood and steaks.

Harry's Place since 1954 in Elkin, N.C.

We chose Harry’s Place. It serves dinner on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings only. I decided to take some photos of Elkin and told my friend to put  our name on the list. There was a wait. She placed our name on a clipboard on the wall, and we waited for our table outside for about 30 minutes. There is nothing attractive about this restaurant at all. But, with the waiting crowd, we knew it must be good. 

Harry's Place in Elkin, N.C.

The open, short-order grill is inside the dining room. The restaurant doesn’t appear to have changed since 1954. And honestly, I don’t think the prices have changed too much either. I ate for less than $14 with a tip.  Once our food arrived, we quickly realized why this has been an Elkin dining staple since 1954.  My own Dad used to have a restaurant that rivaled this one with simple cuisine, and for the first time in 15 years, I tasted a country style steak with peppers and onions and Texas toast that was as good as what he served. If you’re a big city, Whole Foods type shopper, who can’t eat anything, but organic then you may want to skip it, but I’ve been told it has some of the best crab legs for $20 that you can eat. 

Friends Catching Up at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Elkin

Outdoor area at Elkin Fairfield Inn and Suites

The Fairfield Inn has a great wine shop, and the most perfect spot to relax and catch up with a friend.

On our next post, get ready to explore the other wineries during the weekend.  Parkway Wine Tours met us at the hotel at 10 a.m. and our driver, Billy, treated us like queens. 

Stay tuned. Be sure to not to miss a post and subscribe by email on the top right sidebar corner. 

For your trip planning:
Surry County Tourism

My thanks to Surry County Tourism for partnering with me on curating this special Yadkin Valley Wine Trip. Some expenses were my own and as always, so are my opinions

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