Explore North Carolina’s Newest Wine Country in Hendersonville
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.
In summer 2019, Hendersonville’s wine region received federal recognition 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 nights, along with the right soil and water quality, provide favorable conditions for grape growing. Six vineyards produce 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.
“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.
Burntshirt, an estate-grown winery, has 30 acres of vineyards located on both sides of the Eastern Continental Divide. The winery and tasting room overlook rows of grapevines 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.
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. Two different styles of chardonnay, one buttery and oaky and the other a clean, crisp version aged in stainless-steel, satisfy diverse palates.
For a taste of the Old World, head to Stone Ashe Vineyard, which opened this past July. The owners wanted to replicate the vineyard experience of Bordeaux, France, with steep slopes, a moderate climate and comparable soil conditions. They found their perfect terroir on a 2,700-foot mountain. Stone Ashe serves five wines — three whites, one red and one rosé — in its tasting room with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of Bearwallow, Sugarloaf and Bald Top mountains.
Point Lookout Vineyards also pairs its wines with stunning views. The mountaintop vineyard has a 4,000-square-foot open-air tasting room made from hand-hewn cedar logs. On colder days, a fireplace and clear drop-down curtains allow visitors to stay cozy while admiring a 270-degree panoramic view. Nearly a dozen wines are made from grapes grown on-site, and the winery also serves a variety of meads.
“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.
Small and purposeful is the mission of Sawyer Springs Vineyard. This winery is a family-run operation on land that has been farmed by the same family for six generations. Sawyer Springs produces small-batch vintages and serves them in a rustic tasting barn. Grape varietals include cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, merlot, riesling and muscadine.
Marked Tree Vineyard, located at an elevation of 2,300 feet, is the first winery in Flat Rock, just outside of Hendersonville. It offers 10 wine varieties in a picturesque setting, surrounded by vineyard views with mountains in the distance. Red wine drinkers delight in the signature Watershed blend, while chardonel, an American hybrid grape, provides an interesting twist on chardonnay.
To learn more about these Crest of the Blue Ridge wineries and all Hendersonville has to offer: www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org or (800) 828-4244.