Over the river and through the wood … to more NC wineries we go
Our Road to 100 North Carolina Wineries …WITH
84, 85, 86, & 87
Over the river and through the wood … ok, so we weren’t going to grandfather’s house. We didn’t go by sleigh. There was no snow. And it wasn’t Thanksgiving Day, but we did drive west of Raleigh through the Uwharrie National Forest and over the Pee Dee River to visit North Carolina wineries 84, 85, 86 and 87 on our road to 100.
Stony Mountain Vineyards
Our first stop off NC Highway 27 took us to Stony Mountain Vineyards in Albemarle. Stony Mountain is a family-owned, boutique winery that sits atop Stony Mountain, overlooking the Yadkin Valley. This winery was a little off the beaten path – yet easy to find.
Stony Mountain produces a variety of vinifera, fruit and muscadine wines. The winery offers two tasting options: one dry and one sweet for $7 each. We both chose the dry wine tasting and tried 8 wines, with our favorite of the day being the Merlot. Other varieties on our tasting included a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Viognier and Riesling. If fruit or sweet wines are your thing, Stony Mountain produces a variety including Very "Berry" Red, Blackberry, Cherry, Peach, Strawberry, Songbird, Mockingbird, Hummingbird and White/Red Muscadine.
As we enjoyed our tasting and chatting with our host, a steady flow of customers rotated through the doors and to the tasting bar. We decided to split a glass of Merlot to enjoy on the outside patio overlooking the vineyard, albeit with the vines “asleep” for the winter. We found this winery to have a relaxing atmosphere, friendly staff and nice variety of wines to enjoy. Stony Mountain is roughly 2 hours west of Raleigh and a little over an hour east of Charlotte.
Triangle Around Town's top 🍷choice: Merlot
Hours: Tues. – Sat. 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Address: 26370 Mountain Ridge Rd, Albemarle
Tastings are $8 which includes 8 wine samples and a keepsake glass
About 20 minutes later, heading west on US 27, we found ourselves pulling into the parking lot of our 85th North Carolina winery, Dennis Vineyards in Albemarle. If you are a fan of muscadine wine, I will go out on a limb and say you will like, maybe even love, Dennis Vineyards. Why do I phrase it this way? Because we are not fans of muscadine wine but walked away with a bottle in hand.
What started as a hobby in wine making between a father and son turned into Dennis Vineyards. A family-owned and operated winery and vineyard since 1997 – Dennis is one of the first wineries in our state. Sitting on 10-acres of muscadine vines, Dennis Vineyards has perfected the art of producing styles in all sweetness levels – from dry, semi-dry and of course, sweet – and are also producing some wines in the traditional French varieties. So, a little something for everyone’s palate. In all, Dennis produces over 30 varieties.
Visiting during the Christmas holidays allowed us to try some fun varieties such as the Ho Ho Ho Merlot, the Holiday, Snow Boots, Snowflake and others with fun holiday themes. Dennis offers two tasting options: 6 wines for $5 or 12 wines for $10, both with a souvenir glass. We both chose 6 wines and of course shared to maximize our options. After our tasting, we decided to sit outside with a warm glass of mulled wine, perfect for the holidays!
Triangle Around Town's top 🍷choice: Holiday, a muscadine blend with cranberry undertones
Hours: Mon. – Sat. 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Sun. 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Address: 24043 Endy Road, Albemarle
Tastings are $5 for 6 wines or $10 for 12 wines, includes souvenir tasting glass
Ten minutes north, we came upon Uwharrie Vineyards for No. 86 on our list. Founded in 2001 and opened in 2005, Uwharrie is also located in Albemarle, sitting on approximately 70-acres of vines. Here you will find both muscadine- and vinifera-style wines with an emphasis on muscadine and fruit wines. The tasting room hosts not only a large tasting bar but also gift shop featuring local potteries out of Seagrove and other local artists. The tasting bar is beautiful, made of a dark wood and very inviting. The tasting consists of all 15 varieties that Uwharrie offers. That sounds like a lot, but the tasting size is nominal – so no worries there. As we went down the line of wines to try, we found ourselves engaged in talking sports with our tasting room host. Everything from Carolina Hurricanes to the Minnesota Wild and her time up north. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to relax on the outside patio and gazebo, walk the grounds or do a tour but there is always next time!
Varietals offered: Chardonnay, Riesling, Frost Velvet (a blend of Chardonnay and Magnolia), Magnolia, Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Noble, White Syrah, Noble Evening Pleasure, Red Velvet (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Noble); fruit wines include blackberry, strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry
Triangle Around Town's top 🍷choice: Frost Velvet and Red Velvet
Hours: Tues. – Fri. 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Sat. 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Sun. 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Address: 28030 Austin Road, Albemarle
Tastings are $5 for 15 wines, includes souvenir tasting glass
Rocky River Vineyards
Our final stop that afternoon was Rocky River Vineyards in Midland. The winery has been serving up wine since 2003 and features a wide variety of reds, whites, blends and even wine slushies (for those who are into that). Snuggled in roughly 45-acres of land in Cabarrus County, we were interested in trying the wines for the first time. Our tastes lie primarily in dry reds, but being our first time, we decided to try a little bit of everything. From the Chambourcin and Merlot blend to the Chardonnay and Niagara – even a couple of the slushies – since they were on the tasting list. We’re not going to turn down wine!
The customer service was great at the tasting room bar, as several employees took us through the lineup, never missing a beat. Being that we were visiting during Christmas time, the winery had a couple holiday-themed wines with spices as well as hot mulled wine that really hit the spot during a cold afternoon. We didn’t have time to enjoy a glass of wine in the back room, but next time, we’ll take the time to enjoy the winery a little more.
Triangle Around Town's top 🍷choice: Chambourcin and Peach Bellini (shhh… don’t tell anyone)
Hours: Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun. 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.; closed on Mondays.
Address: 11685 Reed Mine Rd., Midland
Tastings are $8 per person and an additional $2 for a souvenir glass
Visit the web page at https://www.rockyrivervineyards.com/ for upcoming events.