To celebrate the start of a new apple crop, Hendersonville hosts Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend, April 25-28. More than 40 events throughout the weekend allow guests to tour cideries, meet winemakers, listen to live music, and indulge in special dinners at wineries and tasting rooms. After a successful first year, this second annual event adds an extra day with a ticketed kickoff gala.
The opening gala on Thursday, April 25, provides a preview of the weekend. Participating venues serve food and drink samples, and tickets will be available for upcoming events. Music and dancing set a festive tone. The gala takes place at the stately Horse Shoe Farm. Located on 85 acres along the French Broad River, the property offers lodging, venue space for both intimate and large events, and a spa.
Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend allows visitors to explore the diversity found at Hendersonville’s cideries and wineries. Ciders vary from a dry European-style with Champagne-like bubbles to a slightly sweet easy-drinking beverage reminiscent of biting into an apple. And wines are as bold as an inky-dark merlot and as light and crisp as a dry rosÃ©.
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards was the first commercial vineyard in Henderson County. The vines are located on land that has been in the same family for nine generations. The wines reflect that rich sense of place. Guided tastings showcase wines made from 14 varieties of French vinifera grapes. On Friday evening, Saint Paul throws a Twist & Shout Dance Party with music from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Then on Saturday evening, guests participate in an interactive experience at Saint Paul’s second tasting room in nearby Flat Rock, where they prepare their own dinner using wine from the vineyard.
BOLD ROCK CIDER.
PHOTO COURTESY SAM DEAN
Across the road from Saint Paul is the winery’s sister location, Appalachian Ridge Artisan Ciders. Cider is served in a 1940s barn that’s been converted into a tasting room. A spacious back porch overlooks the apple orchard. Appalachian Ridge invites visitors to start their Saturday or Sunday with a breakfast in the orchard, complete with coffee roasted onsite, cider mimosas, and biscuits and croissants served with local jams and jellies. After the meal, guests can see the farm on a guided tour. Saturday evening brings blues music, a giant pan of paella and fresh apple desserts.
Across the county in the Mills River countryside, Bold Rock Hard Cider operates a state-of-the-art apple-pressing barn, production facility, tasting room and cider garden. The Virginia-based company opened its second location here in 2015 due to the ready supply of fresh apples. Bold Rock is now the largest craft cidery in the country. The Be Bold Food Truck Festival, a hit at last year’s event, returns on Saturday. This all-day event includes food trucks from throughout the region, as well as Bold Rock’s own smokehouse truck. There will be live music on the outdoor stage and plenty of hard cider flowing.
Hendersonville’s newest winery, Point Lookout Vineyards, adds a different beverage to the mix. In addition to its selection of European-style wines, Point Lookout produces mead, an ancient fermented beverage made from honey. On Friday, the vineyard will release its newest lineup of meads during its Highlands Festival. The event celebrates the Scotch-Irish heritage of Western North Carolina with Celtic folk music, dancing and kilts. On Sunday, a Mountain Top Brunch makes the most of Point Lookout’s nearly 3,000-foot elevation with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. Throughout the afternoon, bluegrass and gospel groups perform on the lawn.
PHOTO COURTESY SAM DEAN
Burntshirt Vineyards hosts live music, vineyard tours, wine tastings and food offerings all weekend at both its Hendersonville and Chimney Rock locations. The winery produces more than 20 estate-grown wines, varying from dry to sweet. Its apple wine blends six varieties of apples to create a slightly sweet porch sipper. In Hendersonville, Burntshirt’s whimsical tasting room is surrounded by rolling vineyards, while in Chimney Rock, the tasting room and bistro look out upon the namesake rock and Hickory Nut Falls.
Wine Sage & Gourmet, a specialty wine and culinary retail shop on Hendersonville’s Main Street, lends its expertise with local cider and wine tastings throughout the weekend. The tastings are free, and customers are welcome to shop a carefully curated collection of wines, kitchen gadgets and cookbooks.
Just down the street, Hendersonville’s Visitor Center is a one-stop-shop for experiencing apple country. Drop in for travel tips and advice from Hendersonville experts and an excellent selection of area maps and brochures.