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Front of the palate, mid palate or rear; aromas, dry, sweet, infused. I never knew sipping wine could be so technical and enjoyable at the same time! There is so much to learn about the kind of grapes, dry years vs. wet years, altitudes of vineyards, infusing wines with juices or brandy. Lots to learn – how does citrus or raspberry flavor get in wines? What can you tell by the color or the swoosh?

Recently my husband and I decided to escape the mountain chill and head to the Yadkin Valley area to experience a wine tour. We booked a room at the Village Inn B&B and were led on our tour by the owner, Chip Thomas. He took us on a delightful tour of four Swan Creek Vineyards and their tasting rooms.

The wine specialists at Shadow Springs were both knowledgeable and entertaining, challenging us to delight our palates with unusual sounding wines. Dry, sweet, blends, merlots, chambre, and dessert wines. The atmosphere was very cheery and overlooked their lake; beautiful vineyard.

We left there and went to the Windsor Run winery and tasting room. Our jovial wine connoisseur shared stories of the winemaker and his secret recipes. He, being from Southern California, was very knowledgeable. He encouraged us to try the infused wines. These are wines which have been infused with their house made brandy, causing them to be much more stout with higher alcohol content. The flavors varied from a mocha taste to lime, which they suggested be served with tequila over ice!

Chip then took us towards North Carolina’s only Amish community. We had a delightful time in Shiloh General Store. The shops are filled with fresh grains, jars of relish and jams, candies, fresh from the farm blue eggs, meats, and cheeses. We had a fantastic lunch from their deli served on homemade bread and chips for a reasonable $5!

With bellies full we departed for Dobbins Creek Vineyard. This one has the highest altitudes which  they attribute to their wines crispness. The tasting room is on a knob overlooking the vineyard with views from Winston Salem to the mountains. We fully enjoyed the covered front porch and a glass of chardonnay.

Onward to Midnight Magdalena tasting room. This was in a gorgeous peaceful setting overlooking bright green fields. Hawks and buzzards flew overhead. Such a peaceful view of the mountains in the distance. The owners were providing their tasting expertise making our experience so fun. They were knowledgeable, yet quite down to earth. We exchanged pleasant conversation in their beautiful tasting room, then took our wine outside to enjoy the view in their comfy chairs.

Each winery we visited had different appeals and characteristics we found truly enjoyable. We learned a lot about wines, (there are so many to choose from!) while enjoying a warm sunny day.

I would highly recommend this experience. North Carolina wines are different and worth trying. Even if you don’t want to do a tour, bring a blanket! Plan a picnic and head out to enjoy a bottle of wine, and even local music when it’s provided. Get out: do something a little out of the norm. Wine tasting averages around $7 glasses and bottle prices vary accordingly.

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