Monday, October 12, 2009

A Convert, a Common Passion, a Great Find

To my best friend, my travel buddy, my love and my partner … Thank you for the journey. Always.

It’s not the first time when you hear I love wine. I love drinking it, smelling it, I love watching grapes grow, and learning about all wines. I grew up where people make their own wines like you make your own pies – it’s just routine.

My boyfriend, Aa., can take it or leave it, for the most part. Whereas I passionately drive long distances in search of the next sweet wine, he is comfortable with what he knows he likes, and that’s not much, I’d say, judgingly.

Saturday was being forecasted as rainy and gray and no good. So, it was not open to much outdoors gaming, and I planned a visit to a winery or two instead. It was a risky endeavor, since as I told you, his passion is not wine. To be cooped up in a car driving to get tipsy on wine tasting is definitely not his idea of passing the time. But … I ran across the perfect compromise (thank you, Google!).

I googled “NC wineries map” and I came up with a couple of wineries that are not too far from Greensboro – and as any wine drinker knows, that’s not too hard to find.

This way, I found one winery I knew he would absolutely flip for! It’s Autumn Creek Vineyards , in Mayodan.

Autumn Creek Vineyards tasting room

Both Aa. and I are log cabin people. We love wood, the smell of it, the fibers, and structures, we would inhale it, if it were possible. Autumn Creek was the most amazing “a-ha” moment of the year for me, when I saw their website: not only is their tasting room built in a log cabin, but they have several cabins for rent on their property. And we both have been looking for log cabins for rent around here, lately.

They all looked well built and the surroundings looked pristine: woodsy, wild, untouched, and just beautiful!

The place is even more amazing experienced first hand. It’s hidden, and there are no highway signs, but they do a great job with the website: good directions, and inviting pictures, to call your name. Once you know the address and you tell your GPS, it is not hard to find, but don’t expect to just roam about the countryside and run into it. It’s tucked away! As the wine “coach” said “if you get lost in these parts, you might could find it”.

The place is really, really an oasis of beauty and simpleness. These people didn’t skimp on anything when they came up with this cabins-in-the-woods-and-wine idea! Everything is well done and well made. Real wood, real bark, real stone, real fixtures. The inside is a mixture of rustic and comfort. Solid wood walls shelter the stainless steel appliances and leather couches.

The buildings complement the surroundings, and not violate them: the woods, and the pastures, the old tobacco barns and the dirt roads, the red Carolina clay. The wine has the North Carolina Muscadine presence through it, full of flavor and body, but it will appeal to dryer palates, as well. The people working there were friendly and knowledgeable, not pushy, but welcoming and helpful. And honest.

Aa. is typically harder to impress than me, but he was taken by the easiness and uncomplicated beauty of it all, as well. We visited a couple of the cabins, and kept making plans for our future home. I was floored when he bought two, not one, of the Mayo River White Muscadine bottles. And I giggled inside when he picked a sweeter rather than a dryer wine. This shall be a good match, after all.

I had brought him up there nervously, hoping he won’t hate it, but his enthusiasm about the way the place was built and managed, as well as about the wine was surprising and welcome.

Later in the day, we took a countryside ride, towards another winery of the Yadkin ValleyShelton Vineyards. I loved their Riesling ever since I ordered it at Printworks Bistro in Greensboro, so I have wanted to visit them ever since. Turns out that their Riesling is their best selling wine. Shelton, by contrast, is a big business affair, with a wine store and three distinct wine bars for tastings. We took a winery tour and did the sweet wine tasting (of course!), and walked about the property that had a craft show and a bluegrass concert on the menu that day, also. In other words: a perfect North Carolina day, clouds and drops of rain and what not …

The way the whole (wine) world should function: keep the reds and the whites separate, folks!

Shelton Vineyards tasting bars

It turns out an impromptu planned day trip is not ever wasted arrangement. We came back with wine, pictures, memories, plans for the future, and ideas on how that future will be built. Literally. Not bad for a rainy, fall day, after all.

PS: Thank you, Aa., for your always good eye in shooting some of these pictures.

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