Toast Time Together in Hendersonville’s Crest of the Blue Ridge Wine Region

02/22/2020  | 
TRAVEL USA
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The popular mountain getaway of Hendersonville, North Carolina — long known for its apple orchards and charming downtown — has emerged as a hot spot for wine enthusiasts. The surrounding Blue Ridge Mountain countryside provides a peaceful oasis to sip quality wines while taking in long-range views.

Surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest and minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, Hendersonville beckons travelers looking to disconnect from daily worries and reconnect with each other and the natural world.

Crest of the Blue Ridge

Hendersonville’s wine region recently received federal designation as Crest of the Blue Ridge American Viticultural Area, or AVA. Only regions with distinctive soil, climate and elevation — such as Napa Valley and Sonoma — earn this designation. Warm days and cool mountain nights during the growing season, along with the right soil and water quality, provide favorable conditions for grape production.

The county’s rolling vineyards produce high-quality classic wines from European vinifera and French-American hybrid grapes, including cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, petit verdot, riesling and vidal blanc. Sweeter wines crafted from muscadine and scuppernong grapes native to North Carolina are also found here, as well as fruit wines made from apples, blackberries, blueberries and peaches.

“For visitors, the AVA designation lets them know that we are serious about growing grapes in this region, and they can expect a higher-quality wine and a better product,” says Sandra Oates, owner of Burntshirt Vineyards.

Three Wineries and Growing

Burntshirt is one of three wineries located in the Crest of the Blue Ridge AVA. The estate-grown winery operates 30 acres of vineyards at two different sites located on both sides of the Eastern Continental Divide. The winery and tasting room overlook 20 acres of grapes just east of downtown Hendersonville. Burntshirt produces more than 20 wines, varying from bold reds, such as cabernet sauvignon, to a refreshing vidal blanc and French-style dry rosé. The apple wine, made from local Henderson County apples, is a nod to the area’s apple-growing tradition.

Two miles away, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards grows grapes on land that’s been farmed by the same family for nine generations. The first winery in Henderson County, Saint Paul opened in 2012. Wines are made from 14 grape varieties, including the popular cabernet franc blend called Queen. Two different styles of chardonnay, one buttery and oaky and the other a clean, crisp version aged in stainless-steel, satisfy diverse palates.

Newcomer Point Lookout Vineyards opened its mountaintop tasting room in June 2018. The 4,000-square-foot open-air pavilion is constructed of hand-hewn cedar logs and offers visitors 270-degree panoramic views. Ten wines, six reds and four whites, are made from grapes grown on-site, and the winery also serves a variety of meads. A barrel cave carved into the mountainside provides an intimate space for dinners and small events.

“This land has been in my family for three generations, and I wanted to create a special place where people can enjoy great wine, beautiful scenery and special times with family and friends, says Mike Jackson, owner of Point Lookout Vineyards. “Our tagline is, ‘Thirty-mile views. Even longer memories.’”

Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend

In addition to wine, Hendersonville’s abundant apple orchards make it a natural fit for the country’s growing hard cider industry. Three cideries operate in the county including Bold Rock Hard Cider, the largest craft cidery in the US. Bold Rock’s North Carolina location now produces more cider than its original Virginia cidery, and hosts tours, tastings and festivals in its cider garden.

Each spring, Hendersonville honors apple blossom season in the orchards and budbreak in the vineyards with Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend. Held this year April 16-19, the four-day weekend features more than 30 events, such as special dinners, wine and cider tastings, tours, live music and more. The weekend encourages people to visit the producers, see how cider and wine are made, meet the makers and ask questions about their techniques, and sample different varieties.

All of the cideries and wineries are part of the Hendersonville Cheers! Trail, which includes 16 stops throughout the county. The trail also showcases several craft breweries. The not-to-be-missed East Coast headquarters of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is a Taj Mahal for beer lovers. The trail allows visitors to map their own beverage route and get a true taste of Hendersonville.

Stay Awhile

Whether you’re looking for a convenient hotel along the interstate, a romantic bed-and-breakfast with luxury amenities, a family-friendly escape, or a pet-centric property, Hendersonville offers a variety of lodging options.

Burntshirt Vineyards has a rental cabin on property that’s an ideal escape for couples in search of a peaceful getaway. Several hotels and inns partner with area wineries and cideries for tasting packages and transportation options.

To find the right Hendersonville lodging for your Blue Ridge Mountain wine weekend, go to www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or call
(800) 828-4244.
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