One good sip deserves another.
By Hope S. Philbrick
On a recent media tour in North Carolina, our bus stopped at four adults-oriented destinations: a brewery, a winery and two distilleries. Tasting samples proved all four are producing sophisticated beverages worth purchasing wherever you are. Stop by for a tour and you’ll be glad you did.
Call Family Distillers
This craft distillery is located in Wilkesboro on the banks of the Yadkin River. It’s all legal now, but the business started in 1868 and current family members aren’t shy about admitting that they’re descendants of moonshiners and distillers—in fact, Wilkes County N.C. claims to be the “Moonshine Capital of the World” since from the 1920s to ‘50s some local folks made their living by delivering moonshine to larger towns and cities while evading police. Today, the Call family produces smooth spirits (including moonshine and brandy) using a one-of-a-kind direct steam injection technique. – Open for tours and tastings every Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Copper Barrel Distillery
Located in North Wilkesboro, the second legal distillery to open in the area (in April 2015), Copper Barrel Distillers boasts of making “100% true ‘shine. Each drop is distilled using grains and produce from North Carolina farms.” They source “the purest spring water and highest quality raw ingredients” including corn, rye, cane sugar and yeast to make their authentic spirit. It’s smooth. We favor the plain white lightening, but black cherry, strawberry, red cherry and blueberry flavors impressed. – Visit from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Newgrass Brewery is located in uptown Shelby in a building that was built in 1909. “Our beers are hand crafted in small batches using the finest ingredients possible,” says co-owner and brewery manager Jordan Boinest, whose enthusiasm for the place is contagious. The roster of beers available changes often; at the time of our visit the roster included creations like PawPaw’s Porter (made with oatmeal and offering notes of coffee, chocolate and molasses) and Lily Bean Golden Stout (infused with cocoa nibs, vanilla bean and coffee extract). “Quality ingredients are the start of a great brew,” says Boinest. Newgrass sources ingredients from around the world, including North Carolina. Beers are hand crafted in small batches. Newgrass is known for its beer, and also for its stage which hosts live music weekly and special events. – Closed Monday. Open Noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday, 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-Midnight Friday, and 11 a.m. to Midnight Saturday.
Located in Ronda, N.C., Raffaldini Vineyards is nestled among “some of the oldest mountains on earth,” said our host. It’s impossible to argue with the view—seriously, no photo shop! Raffaldini Vineyards’ first planting was in 2001, which produced the first small yield in 2003. “It’s important to grow the right grape in the right location,” said our host, adding that they’ve experimented with 30 grape varietals on 42 acres. Currently, Raffaldini produces approximately 7,000 cases a year of its award-winning wines. The focus is on Italian varietals. Some varietals, like Vermentino, are so unique that the Raffaldini family was the first to plant them in the U.S. – Tours offered every day except Tuesday at 1 and 4 p.m. Tastings daily except Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (starting at Noon on Sunday).
Our tour bus didn’t have time to stop at these wineries, but you might while in the area:
Plus, there’s the whole Yadkin Valley Wine Country.
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
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