Adventures on the WNC Wine Trail
Unbeknownst to tourists and locals alike, the mountains around our brew-centered city are positively packed with wineries and vineyards, their leafy trellises blanketing the hillsides in vibrant greens. Thanks to the work of Pete Fland and the WNC Wine Trail, more and more winos are getting an introduction to the blossoming wine world just outside Asheville.
When Fland moved south with his wife a few years ago, the passionate wine drinkers soon stumbled upon the French Broad Vignerons, a local organization that supports Western North Carolina vineyards, orchards, wine and cider makers and their products. Within the year, Fland was head of the organization. Now he’s a self-proclaimed harbinger of local vineyards and wineries as the mastermind of the the new WNC Wine Trail and tours.
The tour takes wine connoisseurs through the scenic hills of our region with stops at a miscellany of different wineries, from Hendersonville to Leicester. Whether you want to take your Bachelorette party on the road or enjoy a delicious winery dinner with your sweetie, the four tour options offer something for everyone. We took a tour and and stopped at several award-winning wineries to get a taste of that Carolina wine ourselves.
For a truly unique winery experience, Fontaine is it. Jackie and Michel Fontaine founded their vineyard and winery on a breathtaking peak just north of Asheville in Leicester; from the moment you set foot on their soil, you’re treated to 360 degrees of unparalleled mountain views. Even more beautiful than the views are the spirits of Jackie and Michel; the former speaks with enthusiasm and a French lilt while her husband, a renowned French baker, smiles and lends a hand in wine tastings and weddings. Fontaine is part wedding venue, part vineyard and winery, and part home. Whether you’re getting married beneath the white trellis with the valley of Asheville in the background, or tasting their wines (we love their chardonnay!) in their authentic French cellar, you’ll love the homey romance of Fontaine.
Addison Farms Vineyard
A mere stone’s throw from Fontaine is Addison Farms, but the similarities between the two wineries end there. Where Fontaine offers the allure of the French provincial, Addison is pure Southern charm. Family owned and operated, Addison’s roots are generations deep; even before Jeff and Dianne Frisbee planted the first vines in 2009, the farm had been in the family since 1937. Now a modern tasting room and event space, complete with soaring ceilings and gorgeous polished woods, overlooks acres and acres of rolling vines. The wines, poured during our tasting by Jeff’s charming mother, are award-winning (especially this year’s Structure, a cabernet franc), their names and labels all harkening back to some family story or legend. Addison offers lauded wines with a touch of that old-school Asheville attitude we love.
Head south to Hendersonville and you’ll find Burntshirt Vineyards. The mountain’s name hails from local lore, which claims that in years past farmers would burn their fields to clear the land on Burntshirt Mountain for planting; they tossed their shirts in the fire for good luck and the fields yielded a bountiful crop! Today, Burntshirt is a family-run wine company with a dedication to craftsmanship spanning 80 years; it’s an estate grown and produced operation unique for its high elevation vineyards. What started primarily as a grape growing operation evolved into a winery when owners Lemuel and Sandra Oates, recognizing the quality of their fruit and the opportunity to be a part of the thriving North Carolina wine industry, embarked on production of their own premium estate wines.
St. Paul Mountain Vineyards
Just down the road from Burntshirt lies St. Paul, a hopping destination for local winos. All the grapes used in St. Paul’s wines, which range from an off-dry chardonnay to cabernet blends, are grown in their own soil (five acres that are scattered outside the tasting room, as well as an additional 10 acres over the hill). What really sets St. Paul apart is their selection of artisan hard ciders, which is more akin to sparkling wine than ale-like ciders you’ll find elsewhere. Their cider is produced from a well-kept secret recipe from generations back in the Bardwell family and made from 100% local Henderson County apples. Their vibrant tasting room and busy patio are the perfect place to top off your tour!