Top 10 Favorite North Carolina Wine Experiences of 2017

In 2016 we rated our favorite North Carolina wineries that we were fortunate enough to visit that year. For 2017 we decided to have a little fun with our winery adventures and recap our favorite winery experiences we had this past year. From running a 5K to behind the scenes tours. From viewing the eclipse at a winery to kicking off NC wine month. Even attending fancy wine tasting events, this past year has been a fun-filled year. For this blog we decided to take a look back at our 10 favorite winery experiences of 2017.

Related Story: The Best Wineries of North Carolina in 2016

Click on the title of select experiences to see our full blog of the event.

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Jay Raffaldini, left, of Raffaldini Vineyards, and JW Ray, of JOLO Winery sign bottles of the collaboration wine.

When we heard two of our favorite wineries were teaming up for a first-ever collaboration, who could say no to a fun day trip. In March we made our way to Raffaldini Vineyards for the unveiling of a special wine release. The release was a collaboration between Raffaldini Vineyards and JOLO Winery. The wine –  RaRa Sisboombah, a blend of Montepulciano and Chambourcin. Both owner/winemakers were at the winery to chat about the wine and how it was conceived. It was great to hear the story with around 30 other wine lovers. Ray and JW were both signing bottles, so of course we got ours signed too. Yet to open the bottle, we plan on uncorking it here in March of 2018.

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Raffaldini Vineyards has a picturesque view and some great wines.

Some might say it's Ludacris to keep with Raffaldini for our next slot, but here we go. This past September when Dathan's parents came in for a visit, a day-trip to Raffaldini was in order. Dathan's parents hit it off with our taster for the day, Denise, as they all discussed locations and sites in California (where Dathan's parents live). Raffaldini's host even pumped up Bianca Bosker's Cork Dork book up enough for the two of us to buy copies of it (Kindle and paperback).

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Botanist & Barrel opens its doors in 2017 out of Cedar Grove, N.C.

It was a lazy Saturday afternoon when we decided to drive to Cedar Grove to check out a new wine/cider location Jen recently heard about, Botanist & Barrel. There we met the three co-owners and got to try everything available to taste that afternoon, including a refreshing sangria. We ended up reaching out to B&B, who took part in our 5 Questions With series.

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One must keep up with the social class, right? And when we keep up with the Joneses, it's with Jones von Drehle Vineyards in Thurmund. We are members of several wine clubs across North Carolina and Virginia, and we really enjoy the events JvD does for its members. This year we were only able to make it to one of these events, but it was a good one. A local small-business market, live music, brats and of course wine! We also officially met both the NC Wine Guys at this event as well. 

We were invited as media bloggers to be part of the inaugural NC Wine Month kickoff event at Childress Winery on Tuesday, August 29. There, NC Agriculture Commissioner and Gov. Roy Cooper declared the month of September as NC Wine Month. We sat at a table with Laurel Gray Vineyards owner Kim Myers and other bloggers as we sampled a total of 12 different NC wines. It was also a great place to form some new contacts with the winemakers, such as Silver Fork, Linville Falls, Childress and Honeygirl Mead.

This event helped settle a score that the two of us have been having for years. Does the glass make the wine taste different? So when Hanover Park hosted a Riedel tasting featuring 3 of its top selling red wines, we just had to open up our schedule for this one. Around 30 people joined in on the tasting, and we all got to take home our Riedel glasses! That's what we call "winning."

We only participated in three 5K races this year, and this was by far our favorite. The annual Running the Vines 5K hosted by Shelton Vineyards in Dobson. This was our first time doing this event, and we'll probably do it again in 2018. This 5K takes you along a nice 5K or 10K run ending up at the vineyard. The day also included a tour and tasting of the winery, as well as an evening performance by 80s cover band, The Breakfast Club.


We both took a day off of work to drive to Piccione Vineyards to take part in the total eclipse of the sun. We hung out with tasting room manager, Hailey and other guests as we drank wine, had a picnic and ate some moon pies and sun chips. With our official eclipse glasses on, we saw all we were able to ... clouds ruined our 95 percent totality. We couldn't think of a better place to experience this monumental event.

This year we finally made it out to Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg. We've been wanting to go for a couple years, but just don't make it to the coast as often as we would like to. And we got the royal treatment when we did arrive. It started with tasting room manager, Elton, treating us to a tasting, and ended with the wineries general manager, John Wright, giving us a grand tour of the entire property. We talked in between vines as a light rain was falling as we talked soil and how he's able to grow Vinifera-style grapes on the coast.

Up until this point all of our adventures this year have been surrounded by our North Carolina wineries, but our No. 1 wine adventure would have to be the Triangle Wine Experience – an annual fundraiser for the Frankie Lemmon School in Raleigh. This event brings in bigwig wine makers from California, Washington and Oregon and around the World. This year seemed to be the year of the Pinot Noir. An incredible opportunity to sample some amazing wines at the grand gala or taking part in a wine dinner or simply a sip, shop and sign. We were fortunate to experience all three this year.\

So, there you have it. Our top 10 wine/winery experiences of 2017. We are looking forward to making new experiences for 2018.