North Carolinaâ€™s Yadkin Valley â€“ with its perfect climate and soil composition - plays host to a growing number of wineries. The Swan Creek area, tucked safely in the Yadkin Valley between the Brushy Mountains and the Blue Ridge, brings a touch of Europe to the Tar Heel state.
Wineries on the Swan Creek Trail offer French and Italian varietals, as well as a few uniquely North Carolina blends. Only five miles apart, the four vineyards on the trail offer a great daytrip either by car or bicycle. Just follow the purple and green grape cluster signs.
For more than 650 years the Raffaldini family has been making wine in Italy, and they have brought a little bit of Tuscany and a lot of winemaking know-how to the Yadkin Valley.
The Raffaldini Vineyard and Winery has more than 27 acres planted with Italian grapes like Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Barbera from which they make their Italian-style wines.
A relatively new winery, Raffaldini is now offering recent vintages in the tasting room. There youâ€™ll find whites like Bianco and even a French-style Chardonnay, as well as reds like Sangiovese, Dolcetto and Bello Misto.Â Â Â Â
Laurel Gray Vineyards is the next stop, where you might say Benny Myers has turned milk into wine. For ten generations the family has lived and raised dairy cattle on this land. Now, they are raising primarily French varietal grapes for the production of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Viognier and house blends.
Laurel Grayâ€™s tasting room and gift shop is in a converted milking parlor. Rockers and gliders lure visitors out to the tasting roomâ€™s front porch for fresh air and the scent of tea roses.
An Amish community is the setting for our Buck Shoals Vineyards, which is on land owned by the Crater family for five generations. You might pass horse-drawn buggies and surreys on Windsor Road on your way to the vineyard, as well as see a number of Amish businesses.
Buck Shoals produces Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Syrah, plus Italian wines utilizing Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Barbera grapes.Â It plans to bottle Amarone wine, also known as Raisin wine. Buck Shoalsâ€™ Vineyards opened in October 2004.
Basset hounds and some unique North Carolina wines await you at Windy Gap Vineyard, which has some of the best product names. Three Dawg Night, a white wine named for the wineryâ€™s basset hound trio, and dry red Fat Basset are just a couple of the wines youâ€™ll find here. Peach honey and blueberry wines also are on the menu.
A Tuscan-style tasting room and a generous patio where visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic offer a continental flavor. Wines hand-crafted in small batches are the pay off for a visit to Windy Gap.
More information about The Swan Creek Trail wineries can be found here.