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Nov 19, 2017

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One Day: North Carolina Wine Country
by Darryl Roberts
Magazine Issue: Online Only


The wine reviews below are based on the following scale:

XXX = Exceptionally Cool
XX = Fo' Shizzle (Highly Recommended)
X = Gets It Done (Recommended)

No that’s not a typo. There are wineries in North Carolina. Really. More than 21 of ‘em. And thank God. I was in Durham visiting my father and needed to write the trip off.

To expedite matters I emailed a local wine writer/friend in Durham to get a better idea on who/where to visit. He gave me the “fab four” as they’re known locally. I contacted said four wineries, and three decided it was worth their time and effort to actually email me back. So here’s your itinerary for your one day in NC wine country:

Start at Childress Vineyards. Not too early. Time it so you can taste, tour and then eat lunch in their deli/restaurant that overlooks the wine cellar. If the name (Childress) sounds familiar it should. It’s owned by Richard Childress of auto racing fame. (The guy’s got his own museum forchristsakes!) Anywho, the winery could easily be transplanted to Napa Valley. Normally that’d be an insult (to the winery), but it’s a beautiful facility complete with large tasting room (read: tchotsky emporium) and comfortable deli/restaurant.

Here are the wines to look for:

X Childress
2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Barrel Select $19
Clean, crisp and floral, nice balance and nice finish.

X Childress
2005 Chardonnay
Barrel Select $15
Nice fruit, good balance and a touch of butter and oak.

X Childress
2005 Chardonnay
Reserve $20
More butter and oak than above, but still has nice, crisp acids and a nice lingering finish.

X+ Childress
2006 Riesling
Barrel Select $19
Off-dry, classic riesling aromas and flavors, and a decent lingering finish.

XX Childress
2006 Sangiovese
Ginani Vineyards $17
Nice spicy red fruit, a decent amount of oak/wood, and real character on the finish.

X Childress
2005 Cabernet Franc
Barrel Select $17
Nice red and black fruit, light earth, some floral elements, and a lot of oak which makes it sticky on the finish.

X+ Childress
2005 Cabernet Franc
Reserve $25
More concentrated than the barrel select, a bit chalky though and a little sticky on the finish. Needs time.

X Childress
2005 Cabernet Sauvignon
Barrel Select $17
Straight forward cab, with clean fruit and a nice finish.

X Childress
2005 Merlot
Barrel Select $17
A bit more character than the cab – more spice – with hints of celery in the smooth finish.

X+ Childress
2004 Syrah
Barrel Select $17
Good black and blue fruit, some spice and a velvety lingering finish.

XXX Childress
2006 Late Harvest Viognier
Select Berry $25
Very icewine-like, concentrated, silky smooth and a wonderful lingering finish.

After lunch, head west/northwest to Westbend Vineyards. In contrast to Childress, this is a quaint setting with more European-style wines.

Now… Westbend wines are very European. I’m not crazy about European wines (read: earthy, not fruit forward). I’m a new world palate kinda guy. So there’s not a whole lot I can honestly say I liked here. BUT WAIT. If you like Euro-centric wines – and there are a number of you who do – please go to Westbend and try their wines. And don’t skip the Port. It’s pretty tasty.

Last, but not least, head south to RayLen Vineyards. A marriage of Childress and Westbend, the facility boasts a comfortable tasting room and scenic views from its porch.

Here are the wines to try at RayLen:

X RayLen
2005 Chardonnay
No Oak $12
Fresh fruit, crisp acids and a nice lingering finish.

X RayLen
2005 Chardonnay
Barrel $14
No overly oaky (which is nice), a bit more concentrated than above, and a nice crisp finish.

2006 Chardonnay
SMV $15
I only mention this wine because there are a lot of you that still think chardonnay should taste like oak and butter. Get over it!

X RayLen
2006 Shiraz $12
Nice black and blue fruit, some smoke, and a bit sticky on the finish.

X RayLen
2005 Merlot $13
Red fruit, plum, a little woody, with a nice round body and finish.

X RayLen
2006 Merlot $13
A bit more intense than above, but still still and chewy on the finish.

X RayLen
2006 Cabernet Franc $15
Nice fruit, a little stiff and a bit chalky on the finish. Needs time.

X+ RayLen
2006 Category 5 $18
Best wine in the group: ripe fruit, smooth body and soft lingering finish.

Vintage Note: Quality of vintages from 2004+ get better with each year (excluding 2008). So check it out for yourself. See if you agree with the winemakers.

More info on the Yadkin Valley Wine Trail

Google Map of Yadkin Valley Wineries

Restaurant Recommendations


When in Lexington, you gots ta stop at a barbecue restaurant in town. Unfortunately, most only serve sweet tea. The exception: The Barbecue House which serves beer and wine.


Ketchie Creek
844 Valley Rd
Mocksville, NC 27028
(336) 751-9147

109 Junie Beauchamp Road
Mocksville, NC 27028
(336) 998-4305


Noble’s Grille
380 Knollwood St # 100
Winston Salem, NC 27103
(336) 777-8477

Twin City Chop House
115 S Main St
Winston Salem, NC 27101
(336) 748-8600

Sixth & Vine
209 W 6th St
Winston Salem, NC 27101
(336) 725-5577

Zevely House
901 W 4th St
Winston Salem, NC 27101
(336) 725-6666

Ryan’s Steak Chops & Seafood
719 Coliseum Dr
Winston Salem, NC 27106
(336) 724-6132

Riverbirch Lodge & Restaurants
3324 Robinhood Rd
Winston Salem, NC 27106
(336) 768-1111

Bleu Restaurant & Bar
3425 Frontis St
Winston Salem, NC 27103
(336) 760-2026

Hutch & Harris Pub
424 W. 4th St.
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
(336) 721-1336


Green Valley Grill
622 Green Valley Rd
Greensboro, NC 27408
(336) 854-2015

Village Tavern
1903 Westridge Rd
Greensboro, NC 27410
(336) 282-3063


401 Foster St # B2
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 683-1213

Four Square (expensive)
2701 Chapel Hill Rd
Durham, NC 27707
(919) 401-9877

2514 University Dr
Durham, NC 27707
(919) 493-8545

Magnolia Grill (expensive)
1002 9th St
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 286-3609

Pop's (noisy)
810 W Peabody St
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 956-7677

George's Garage
737 9th St
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 286-4131

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