What could be better than North Carolina’s stunning mountain views? Stunning mountain views with a glass of wine in hand, of course. Time to hit the road for a long weekend spent exploring the state’s higher-elevation vineyards. What are you waiting for? The Blue Ridge is calling!
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On Friday afternoon, sip Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot on the porch of Russian Chapel Hills’ tasting room as you look out over the vineyard. Among the vines, you’ll spot a beautiful 17th-century-style chapel. Ten years ago, owner Andrey Medvedev moved to Columbus from Russia to open this winery. Then, he set out to honor his heritage. The result: St. Anna Chapel, part of the Eastern Diocese of the Russian Church, which was imported from Russia in pieces and constructed in a traditional manner, using no nails or screws. Today, Medvedev specializes in dry European-style wines produced from seven estate-grown varietals on the property.
Take a 10-minute drive from Russian Chapel Hills, and you’ll arrive at Overmountain, a boutique winery located on a 70-acre family farm with 17 acres of French grapes and two acres of blueberries. Grab a glass of Petit Manseng from the tasting room, located in an adorable guest cottage overlooking the foothills. Then, claim a table outside. If you’re in need of an afternoon snack, try a selection of cheeses, cured meats, and crackers. And keep an eye out for the friendly resident Great Danes — they like to nap on the patio.
After Overmountain, head to downtown Tryon, just 20 minutes away, for dinner at Huckleberry’s. Choose from a variety of delicious fare, including pimento cheese-and-chicken macaroni and cheese; grilled mahi-mahi with avocado-corn salsa; and teriyaki-and-pineapple grilled chicken.
This historic bed and breakfast, just down the street from your dinner spot, was constructed in 1906 and welcomed wealthy guests who visited to ride horses and go foxhunting. Today, the inn has 35 uniquely decorated guest rooms located within the main lodge and in outlying cabins and cottages. Explore the original buildings on the property — including a 250-year-old log cabin — and lounge in a room with your own private fireplace and porch.
Wake up and head to FENCE to explore more than 300 acres of hardwood forests, meadows, and wetlands by foot along six miles of trails. There’s even a paved path if you don’t feel like getting your boots dirty. Keep an eye out for horses — the year-round equestrian center on the property frequently hosts shows and events.
There’s plenty of room to roam at Parker-Binns, a 40-acre vineyard just 20 minutes from Tryon, with beautiful views of the surrounding meadows and mountains. Sit at a picnic table among the flowers and metal sculptures in the charming outdoor garden or relax in a rocking chair on the covered patio, and sip a refreshing and perfect-for-summer rosé. And if your stomach is growling, order some tasty local cheese and pepper jelly.
Listen to the music at Burntshirt Vineyards
It’s time to leave the Foothills behind and wind your way up into the mountains. At Burntshirt, enjoy vineyard views from the quaint tasting room, and an outdoor bar inside a gazebo. Choose from 21 wines, including the award-winning Grüner Veltliner. Then, stroll through the gardens, and be sure to look up to see the colorful wine bottles hanging from the trees. Or just sit back and listen to the music — on Saturdays throughout the summer, musicians play on the patio from 2 to 5 p.m. And that name? Mountain lore has it that back in the day, farmers would burn their fields to clear the land on Burntshirt Mountain. They tossed their shirts into the fire for good luck in the new planting year.
Explore Main Street and eat lunch at Mezzaluna
Downtown Hendersonville is just 12 minutes from Burntshirt — perfect for a midday pit stop. The town’s Main Street, built to be wide enough for horse-drawn wagons to turn around, was narrowed in the 1970s to make it more tree- and people-friendly. Go for a stroll, popping into shops along the way. For lunch, sit at a sidewalk table at Mezzaluna, a sleek Italian restaurant with wood-fired pizzas. Later, pick up an apple fritter from McFarlan Bake Shop, which has been open since 1930.
Watch the sun set from Point Lookout Vineyards
On the southeast slope of Point Lookout Mountain, this winery offers panoramic 30-mile views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from a beautiful, log cabin-style tasting room and covered outdoor pavilion. Take a tour of the vineyards, then sip the award-winning dry Riesling or the Javine, a red blend infused with coffee and chocolate, by the outdoor firepit as the sky lights up at sunset.
End your day at the 1898 Waverly Inn
This beautiful and historic Queen Anne-style bed and breakfast is the oldest surviving inn in Hendersonville and was built when oil lamps still illuminated the street corners. Guests once arrived by train and stagecoach, but today, it’s just a short drive from Point Lookout. Recount the day’s adventures on the wraparound porch, walk to dinner, and then get some sleep — you’ll want to prepare for a big gourmet breakfast.
Throughout the morning, explore the grounds of the stunning Biltmore Estate, wandering the gardens and touring the house. Afterward, head to Biltmore Winery in Antler Hill Village — still on the grounds — to enjoy a complimentary tasting of more than 20 wines, including the delicious Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine. Lounge at the outdoor and indoor wine bars or take a behind-the-scenes tour through the impressive underground stone tunnels to see the winery’s production facilities. At the end, you’ll enjoy a tasting in a more private setting. Take full advantage of what the winery has to offer — not just anyone can visit; it’s only open to those who’ve purchased admission to the estate.
Eat a late lunch at Cedric’s Tavern
After you’ve worked up an appetite exploring, wander over to Cedric’s Tavern, a warm and cozy restaurant located in Antler Hill Village near the winery. Dig into fresh takes on English pub fare, including fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, and keep an eye out for black-and-white photos — and the enormous leather collar — of the Vanderbilts’ beloved Saint Bernard, Cedric.
We’ve highlighted just a few of the wineries around Asheville, but there are more to explore. Be sure to come back for another weekend or feel free to make this itinerary your own. Consider including: