E is for Elkin Creek Vineyard
This week’s letter assignment if the letter E~
North Carolina is home to more than 90 wineries~ quadrupling since 2001. The industry has two focuses – native muscadine grapes and European-style vinifera grapes. Commonly planted vinifera grape varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Viognier, which are planted in the Western and Piedmont regions of the state. Native muscadine grapes, also known as Scuppernongs, are relatively pest resistant and thrive in the hot sandy conditions of the Coastal region.
Not long after Sir Walter Raleigh landed in what would become North Carolina, the grape vine was first introduced and cultivated in the New World. In fact, by the dawn of the 20th Century, NC was the leading wine-producing region in the nation. It seemed nothing could stop us. But we hadn’t counted on an act of Congress. 1919. Prohibition.
Suddenly, products from distilleries in undisclosed locations in the Piedmont hills and dales were rather more lucrative than those from the gnarled grape orchards of yore. When we spoke of fruit, it was shriveled in white lightning. When we packaged, it was in Mason jars rather than Chardonnay bottles.
Other pursuits followed. Often at high speeds. The sudden professional interest of G-Men and revenuers gave rise to moonlit, midnight chases across the humble countryside, engendering a motorized pastime that became a sport that became NASCAR.
I have been remiss in visiting wineries in my own backyard. When my friend Annie told me about her experiences visiting some vineyards and handed me a map, we hopped in the car and headed out to visit three wineries~ within an hour and a half drive, this past weekend.
We visited one of the largest, one of the most scenic, and one of the smallest on our day’s excusion~ all three with their own unique characteristics and charm~ worth a return visit. For Mrs. Matlock’s class, I’ll focus on the smallest vineyard we visited~ Elkin Creek.
Perched atop a knoll overlooking Big Elkin Creek is a small winery worthy of attention. Hand-crafted with both native timbers & tradition is a rustic facility where you will find wines made from carefully tended estate vines expressing their ultimate potential, as well as the tranquility of an ageless waterfall.
Inspired by one man’s passion, along the foothills of the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, Elkin Creek Vineyard with the hand-hewed beams of the winery and the hand-tendered estate vines sits waiting for your visit.
We had a relaxed and casual tasting at Elkin Creek, where with a glass of wine in hand, we were encouraged to stroll by the creek, old mill, and waterfall~ where time seems to have stood still.
The waterfall is down to a slow trickle due to an abnormally dry fall, bordering on moderate drought conditions. . .lack of rain is good for grapes, although this year’s crop has already been harvested.
Owner and winemaker Mark Greene, who grew up in the area, returned decades later to care for his father. When he bought the 1896 Elkin Mill and twenty-five acres of land along Elkin Creek, it was to rescue the mill, where he now lives. A visit to Shelton Vineyards where he admired the beauty of the vines prompted him to take classes in viticulture. Further research, and against some advise, he planted five acres of vinifera in 2000.
The Kitchen, at Elkin Creek is the perfect venue for a special event. Currently open only for weddings, receptions, special parties, private groups~ this FUN bus, reminiscent of the Partridge Family :-), is used to bring in groups from offsite due to limited parking.
Yes, I love this old truck :-)