Sweet Home Carolina Vineyard

The power of Instagram.

Scrolling through on a Saturday morning, I caught a glimpse of the wine smoothie at Sweet Home Carolina Vineyard. After looking up the location, we saw it was convenient to the drive we had in store the next day just off of Highway 421 back to Raleigh.

Sweet Home Carolina Wine Smoothie

Upon arriving, we noticed a quaint little building, right off of old 421 Highway. It was a hot afternoon, so we were looking forward to the refreshing wine smoothie that awaited us.

Sweet Home Carolina Vineyard Sign

The tasting room itself is beautiful. On your left, there’s a large wall of stonework profiling a fireplace with small shelving built in for candles.  The crimson red walls provide a nice ambiance for tasting. There was also a large grand piano in the room, which adds to the experience I’m sure at times as I’ve seen one of the owners playing it in other pictures (we didn’t get to hear it this day).

Sweet Home Carolina Vineyard Stone

Stepping up the bar, we decided to try a wine smoothie first and then a small tasting. We enjoyed the smoothie on their back deck, which felt great with the fans and breeze blowing through there. The view was serene and peaceful looking out at the vines themselves with a slight view of the very top of Pilot Mountain in the distance.

Sweet Home Carolina Vineyard Wine Smoothie

Sweet Home Carolina Vineyard & Winery

Sweet Home Carolina Vineyard Grapes


After finishing our smoothie, we made our way back in for a small tasting. We tried 6 of their wines. One red, three white and two fruit wines. Normally we go more for the reds and a chardonnay, but their specialties seemed to be in their fruit wines. Additionally, we learned that all their fruit wines are 100% fruit. We also enjoyed the labels with the tiny horses, which are normally raised on the property (also weren’t there the day we visited).

  • Moonstruck – Red Malbec
  • Baby Girl – White
  • Sweet Dreams – White
  • Epona – White
  • Twisted Pear – Fruit
  • Peaches & Dreams – Fruit

All were delicious, but we left with a bottle of the Peaches & Dreams, as my wife wants to attempt a Peach sangria.

Sweet Home Carolina Vineyard Sweet Dreams



Daveste Vineyard

With the number of NC vineyards growing rapidly, it can be tough to select just one to visit.  Our selection process on some weekends is strictly decided by the time we have.  So we picked this one by it’s proximity to I-40 given it wasn’t far out of the way we were already headed. It also didn’t hurt that it had craft beer as the combo winery/brewery are all moving up my priority list.

Pulling up to Daveste Vineyards, you embark down a dirt road where you’re encouraged to go no more than 10mph as “there are vines growing.” As you walk in, you’re taken by the high ceilings, the original paintings and the coziness of the couch by the fireplace.

Despite the summer temps being in the 90’s most July days in NC, we still always enjoy a full-bodied red wine.  Daveste’s 2014 Malbec fits the bill. But if you want to try this one, you should make a trip quickly as our guide told us the vine died and they won’t be making any more.

Another neat experience to cap off the end of our tasting, was enjoying the 2013 Dulcinea. We were instructed by our guide, after our first taste to enjoy a dark chocolate Hershey Kiss and then taste again. The dark chocolate completely changes the flavors that comes through. The espresso flavor is much more pronounced after trying the dark chocolate. A unique and neat twist on your average tasting.


We also had to try a flight of the craft beer they brew at Daveste. Making our way through the generous pours, the Stout left the biggest impression. Normally, the hot summer temps is not the prime time to enjoy a Stout but would like to enjoy a few of these. It reminded me a bit of the Founders Breakfast Stout that I love to enjoy each year.  Highly suggest trying the flight if making the stop.



Overall, the venue is beautiful with multiple places to enjoy a bottle or a flight of their craft brews. Outdoor locales include multiple patios, waterfalls, or rocking chairs on the front porch. Wish we would have had more time to enjoy.



The Top 10 NC Vineyards on Instagram

san-marinoAfter reading the NC Wine Guys blog about being consistent on social media by using #NCWine, I began to wonder how many people actually search using that hashtag.

There are so many great photos displaying NC Wine from the visitors themselves. It’s often we will run across these by searching the hashtag #NCWine but you’ll find many more by searching the location of the winery/vineyard itself (who may not have an account themselves).

While doing this over the last few months to create our own itinerary, I’ve wondered how much more powerful it would be if these pictures could be shared where more could enjoy or even plan a visit. If the wineries and vineyards themselves could repost the pics more easily on their own profile, it would benefit all vineyards in and around that area.

So to start, we’ve cataloged a list of the best instagram accounts that regularly display fantastic and engaging pictures of North Carolina vineyards and wine culture.  We’ve made two categories:

  • Top 5 With Most Followers
  • Top 5 You Should Follow (Not in that group)

Top 5 With Most Followers

Biltmore Wines – Asheville, NC
Childress Wines – Lexington, NC
Duplin Winery – Rose Hill, NC
Sanctuary Vineyards – Outer Banks, NC
Overmountain Vineyards – Tryon, NC

Top 5 You Should Follow

Jolo Vineyards – Pilot Mountain, NC
Raylen Vineyards – Mocksville, NC
Raffaldini Vineyards – Ronda, NC
Divine Llama Vineyards – East Bend, NC
Treehouse Vineyards – Monroe, NC

We’ll have another blog, with a list of the top 5 vineyards with the best pictures tagged on Instagram with no official account for the Vineyard itself.

Raylen Vineyard

We’d heard so many good things about Raylen, we couldn’t wait to stop by.  It’s an easy stop for us as it’s on the way from Raleigh to Hickory – a trip we make a few times a year.

This was our first vineyard of the weekend so we had the kids with us. The property has a beautiful and expansive spread of grapes. We enjoyed a quick tasting where the Mrs. sipped on the Yadkin Gold (white) and I, the Carolinius (red), which resulted in our first purchase of the weekend. This will be a regular stop on our journey in the future as we quickly became Case Club members. Free glass every visit. Who can resist that? #doublefisting

Menarick Vineyard

Menarick VineyardThis was a very pleasant surprise we ran across on our way to another vineyard.

The knowledge of our tasting guide was fantastic and overall was a great way to start the day.

The Spanish and Portuguese design of the tasting room is a unique and more intimate feel than many of the other tasting rooms we’ve seen.  My wife really loved the Tempranillo so we came home with a bottle of it. We are generally not fans of the sweeter wines but they had a Peach and a Blackberry wine that was a very pleasing way to finish our tasting.  So much so, we walked out with a bottle of the blackberry as well.  The stemless tasting glass we received was also a nice touch.

As we were leaving, the sky opened up and it began pouring, so we chose to sit on the patio for a bit enjoying a glass. Part of the fun in tastings is the people you meet at the tables next to you.  You never know what type of conversations you might hear.  We had a fun exchange where we met another older couple from Raleigh. The wine tends to make others more friendly as well.

We would recommend you putting Menarick at the top of your list, early in your visit to the Yadkin Valley.

Menarick Vineyard Menarick Vineyard

Jones von Drehle Vineyard

Jones von Drehle was not on our original agenda, but we made a stop on a recommendation from Menarick after our first tasting of the day.  It was a fairly quick drive and in the direction of McRitchie which was next on our agenda.

Jones von DrehleJones von Drehle Vineyard had just opened recently in Thurmond, NC and we arrived hungry for lunch.  At this point, it’s tough to find criticism for any of the vineyards and tasting rooms we visited in the area. This was another great experience although quite a different feel than Menarick. This was a much larger facility with wonderful views.  They also had a wonderful food truck we devoured on the patio while the rain came down. When walking in, there was a large group of forty-something couples that were riding around the area in a bus. Seems like a fun (and safe) way to spend an afternoon in the Yadkin Valley.

I wished we’d taken better notes on the wines themselves but we were so hungry we rushed through our tasting. But is a tasting ever bad? We can’t wait to make another visit here.

Jones Von Drehle

Jones Von Drehle Vineyard



Round Peak Vineyard & Skull Camp Brewing

Our favorite stop in the Yadkin Valley so far has been Round Peak Vineyards.  For three reasons, the outdoor expansive back deck for tasting, the wonderful views from the Adirondack chairs on said deck, and the brewery combo allowing you to have the best of both worlds – wine tastings and beer flights.

On our visit, we arrived around noon and tried the Round Peak wines and the Skull Camp Brews. We had our tastings on the back deck and the views were serene and beautiful. My wife really enjoyed the Nebbiolo and I favored the Steel Jan’s, NZ IPA. Guess you can bet which choice we came home with.

The wife of the owner team served us and made our visit very enjoyable. We chose this locale at the last minute. I love when an experience for which you have initial mediocre expectations turns out to be a fantastic memory!

We were actually planning on making it back for their Grillfest event on the porch that evening (5-8pm) where they have live music and encourage you to bring some meat to throw on the grill with a picnic blanket. Next time!

Sanders Ridge Vineyard

How great are spontaneous dinners accompanied by great wine?  At Sanders Ridge, you’ll find both.

This was the next stop after our tasting at RagApple Lassie vineyards since it was fairly close. After visiting 4 other vineyards that day, it was a welcome reprieve.

The Hearth Restaurant at Sanders Ridge has an exquisite interior and was built by the owner himself. This added to the ambiance for a fantastic dinner. Highly recommend the Pimento Cheese burger.

After our pre-dinner tasting, we chose a glass of the Big Woods. This full flavored red, was a great appetizer before dinner. Even though we don’t normally enjoy the fruit wines, the Peach Mango was a nice glass to have with us as we walked around the property and down to the lake after dinner.

Because we were there during the evening, the zip line was not an option. Fine with us, another reason to come back and enjoy.




Shadow Line Vineyard

Next time you are in Granite Falls, NC making your way down Highway 321, make a slight detour for Shadow Line Vineyard. The facility is beautiful.  On our recent trip, we started with a tasting of all 8 of their wines.

As we were throwing back our tasting, it occurred to me that we’d done a poor job of capturing our thoughts on wine tasting in North Carolina, because we have been to 8-10 vineyards over the last few years and haven’t documented our trips. Given the benefit we found in reading other’s reviews of vineyards across the State before starting our trips, we thought others could benefit.

Nestled in the country, a few miles off of highway 321, a peaceful experience awaits you at Shadow Line Vineyard. I didn’t take great notes on the tastes of these wines as one of the people in our group was participating in his first tasting, so our focus was on him, but I did choose a glass of the Merlot after finishing the tastings. Several in our group purchased bottles as well.


Shelton Vineyard & Hampton Inn

Like most others, we thought the wine-tasting room in the hotel was a nice touch. Being that it’s 2 miles from the Shelton Vineyards, you get…Shelton Wines. Paying $5 for a tasting gives you 3 wines to pick. It was a relaxing and quaint environment but we did enjoy the two other couples in the room who were enjoying a bottle of Harvest Red.  You could tell they may have been in to their second bottle because the laughter was happening regularly.

As for the Hampton room – it was clean and had a fridge & microwave. The only slight downside was that the TV was a little small to see being how far it was from the King bed.  The patio was a nice touch as well. Actually had breakfast out there the following morning and it is surprisingly quiet being that close to the interstate.

I wish we’d taken more pictures of the actual vineyard as the grounds were beautiful.  They also had a restaurant on site, but seemed more fit for a nice dinner and we were there at lunch.  I would like to spend more time at this one the next time we are in Dobson, NC.