Discovering North Carolina’s Haw River Wine Trail
In the center of North Carolina between the mountains and the coast the Haw River flows. The land along its shores between the Triad and Piedmont regions was once home to a booming textile industry and its rich soil, renown worldwide for its cash crop- gold leaf tobacco.
The passage of time and diminishing of the two major industries has brought change to the land along the Haw River. Today there’s a new crop growing and its sprouting a different type of business.
In the past decade a handful of wineries has popped up along the Haw River. These wineries are attracting wine lovers and tourists to what is officially known as the Haw River Valley American Viticultural Area or The Haw River Wine Trail.
The climate and soil lend nicely to the growth of a variety of grapes and the production of an array of wines. The Haw River Wine Trail features wines pleasing to most palates; from traditional European-styles such as Merlot and Chardonnay, to native wines like Muscadine and Scuppernong, to fruit wines of strawberry, blackberry and fig.
I spent a sunny Saturday visiting three wineries along the trail.
Each one is a small, family-owned business with vineyards, tasting rooms, a love for the area and a passion for wine making.
GlenMarie Vineyards and Winery
Our first stop of the day is at GlenMarie Vineyards and Winery. Situated on the glens of Mebane and Graham along a rural road, the grapes grow on what was once a tobacco field.
Inside , the small tasting room is warm and inviting and we’re welcomed by Jordan who is pouring samples. He’s extremely knowledgeable and provides outstanding details and information about each wine we try.
Jordan’s understanding of the land, the grapes, the wine-making process as well as his friendly personality makes sampling a joy.
After our tasting and wine education, we stroll the vineyards. The grapes are just beginning to appear on the vines . There’s also the chance to make friends with a couple of sweet alpacas who live at the winery.
GlenMarie Vineyards and Winery – 1838 Johnson Road Burlington, NC 27217
Tasting room open Thursday through Sunday noon until 6 pm. Tastings are $5 for six samples includes souvenir glass.
Benjamin Vineyards and Winery
Our next stop is in Graham, North Carolina at Benjamin Vineyards Winery. This is a winery on a slightly larger scale with a considerable covered outdoor seating area ideal for couples spending a romantic afternoon or for a group get-together. Today there’s a bachelorette party enjoying the beautiful weather, wine and scenery at Benjamin Vineyards.
Inside we’re treated to a tasting of local wine. Benjamin boasts it grows 80% of the grapes used in its wine and the other 20% come from just down the road in Chatham County. The tasting room manager guides us through the samplings. Starting with the crisp, dry wines and working our way to the fruity sweet wines we taste the range and variety Benjamin offers.
Outside, Carolina blue skies accentuate the beauty of the winery. The ambiance of the setting with its lush grounds, rows of grapes and peaceful atmosphere combine with their wines making it easy to see why Benjamin Vineyards is a popular winery.
Benjamin Vineyards and Winery – 6516 Whitney Road Graham, NC 27253
Tastings offered Thursday through Sunday noon to 5 pm. $5 for tasting of six wines includes souvenir glass.
Our final stop is at Wolfe Wines in the sleepy town of Snow Camp, North Carolina. The winery, which opened in 2008 is family owned and operated and home to some of the most unique and tasty whole fruit and grape wines.
The small, rustic-styled winery has an open tasting room accentuated by a large mural painted by a local artist. The list of wines to sample reads like a grocery list of favorite fruits – blueberry, cranberry, fig, apple and strawberry are a few of the fruity offerings. Also included on the list are the grape wines which include Merlot, Chardonnay and Muscadine.
The winery hosts several special events throughout the year and the grounds are a bucolic location for live music programs and weddings as well. There’s also several nearby attractions, visitors may wish to include in their visit to Snow Camp such as the outdoor drama, Sword of Peace.
Wolfe Wines – 8973 Old Plank Road Snow Camp, NC 27349
Friday and Sunday 1-6 pm and Saturday noon to 6 pm. Tasting is $5 and includes souvenir glass.
Although still in its infancy, the Haw River Wine Trail is growing and becoming a tourist destination. The wine trail has an appeal and down home charm inviting guests to spend some time in the country and sip, relax and enjoy.
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