Viticulture is the Name, Winemaking is the Game
In Stanly County, a new way of farming has been added to cows, corn and cotton. Viticulture and winemaking is the name of the game as a new breed of farmers have found the fertile soil and mild climate perfect for vineyards that range in size from small patches to dozens of acres.
“I call it extreme farming,” says Chad Andrews of Uwharrie Vineyards, who with partner David Braswell opened his 84-acre farm in 2005. “Winemaking is a romantic notion, but it’s very hard work.” But for Andrews it is a dream come true and he’ll gladly help the visitor choose a wine, or make up a basket, or give a grand tour of his winemaking operation.
Uwharrie Vineyards has a visitor complex with a wine tasting bar, a gift shop, a tank room and a state-of-the-art meeting facility. It also has certification as an Audubon sanctuary and is host to wild turkeys, herds of deer and flocks of bluebirds.
A few miles to the east, bluebirds flock around the boxes set out by vintner Ken Furr on the porch of Stony Mountain Vineyards. Sitting high above rows of vines that march down a rocky hillside, the porch has one of the most spectacular views in the county. Below it the Pee Dee River meanders through a lush valley as the hazy blue Uwharrie Mountains rise beyond.
Furr and his wife Marie opened their business in 1996 on 62 acres near Morrow Mountain State Park. Wines range from Chardonnay to Riesling and from Syrah to Merlot and include home-grown fruit wines, a delicious addition to any dessert. “We’re a small family operation,” says Furr. “We’re a boutique winery like many in Europe.”
Across the county, another family winery produces wines from the native Muscadine grape. Starting with 200 vines in 1997, the Dennis family began selling their wine in 1998 and promptly sold out. “It was word-of-mouth,” says Sandon Dennis, whose family has farmed this land for generations. Today, sales from Dennis Vineyards are through wine festivals, regional shows, and a thriving mail order business as well as on site. The winery includes a spacious events building and a gift shop.
Yet another thriving family winery can be found on the western edge of the county. Begun in 2003, Rocky River Vineyards is owned by David Elliot, his wife Dwan and mother Sara. Other family members work in the business that offers a variety of wines and is a popular venue for weddings and banquets. And although technology has produced an efficient grape-pressing method, fans can come out at harvest time to take part in an old-fashioned grape stomping.
Outside Stanly County, but definitely a not-to-be-missed part of the wine trail, Old Stone Winery has been hand-crafting award winning wines since 2002. Located just outside Salisbury and less than one hour from Charlotte, the winery features a gift shop, tasting bar, and tank room. Recently purchased by Darin and Naomi Griffin, the 130-acre estate currently has 20 acres of Muscadine grapes and is an exclusive source of European vinifera grapes.
From rolling hills, to creek sides, to steep Uwharrie Mountain hillsides, the area’s wines are as varied as the terrain from which they grow. Come and taste for yourself the product of Stanly County’s newest way of farming.
|Dennis Vineyards Winery
24043 Endy Rd., Albemarle, NC 28001
Mon- Sat 10am-6pm
|Stony Mountain Vineyards & Winery
26370 Mountain Ridge Rd., Albemarle, NC 28001
|Uwharrie Vineyards & Winery
28014 Austin Rd., Albemarle, NC 28001
|Rocky River Vineyards
11685 Reed Mine Rd., Midland, NC 28107
|Morgan Ridge Vineyard
486 John Morgan Road Gold Hill, NC 28071
|Old Stone Vineyard & Winery
6245 Hwy 52, Salisbury, NC 28146
Stanly County Area Vineyards
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