It’s not a secret to those that know me very well… I am a wine lover! I seldom will turn down a glass of wine when offered. I am not a wine snob, but I know what I like, and I like what I know about the wineries in Rowan County!
I wanted to share in this blog post three must-see (best) wineries we are so lucky to have locally. I enjoy all of them and I hope if you haven’t visited one of them it will be placed on your to do list! All three of them are fantastic! Not into aged grapes? No need to whine, Rowan County also has some stellar local breweries that each serve their own tasty cold craft beers!
A friend of mine, Dawn King, and I decided to visit local vineyards last year. We both had the “North Carolina Winery Guide” from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and we were ready to go tasting.! After some discussion, we decided to start locally which lead us to a winery I had never heard of before.
Douglas Vineyards is in southern Rowan County and they are located at 7696 Freeze Road, Kannapolis, North Carolina. I drove through China Grove, Landis, and into Enchoville which lead me on some beautiful back county roads. When I turned on to Freeze Road, I was looking for a vineyard and what I drove up to was someone’s house. I turned down the driveway and behind the house was Douglas Vineyards… a beautiful vineyard surrounded by vines of grapes. Located on the grounds is also an inviting venue for weddings and parties. The front porch of the vineyard is very welcoming with wrought iron patio furnishings and a running water fountain that adds to the atmosphere.
When you enter inside the vineyard, you are greeted by two friendly faces! Doug Fink, the owner, and a life long friend, Todd Coe. These two are high school buddies that have continued a friendship over the years. The slogan for Doug’s vineyard is “We’re not your typical winery… because we are just laid back”. I couldn’t think of a better slogan for them. It’s a very relaxing atmosphere inside as well as outside. The inside is furnished with plenty of seating and a tasting bar which is where I always go first… duh!
I asked Doug what made him want to start a business in his own backyard (yes, his house is the driveway you turn into for the vineyard). He said, “I worked in retail management for 33 years. I started making wine as a hobby and use to give it away. Then people asked about me making wine, so they could buy it and the rest is history!”. Doug and his wife Denise, then started making different wines and normally they have 22 flavors available throughout the year and 6 seasonal port wines at Christmas. I must tell you that they are all delightful!
Doug grows muscadines. He has about 200 plants that consist of about 50/50 of a white grape called Welder and a hybrid red called Southern Home. He also purchases grapes from other vendors.
All the manufacturing goes on right there on the property after the grapes are hand picked. They first started with producing 800 cases of wine and now they are producing 2,000 cases a year. I’m pretty sure I’ve purchased one or two cases myself! The most popular wine based on sales and my friends’ opinions is the “Bitchin Blackberry”! Obviously, their sales speak for themselves with over 12,000 bottles of it sold alone in 2018!
You will find Douglas Vineyards at several events this year including the North Carolina Wine Festival in Tanglewood, Jiggy with the Piggy in Kannapolis, and Biker, Blues & BBQ at Tilley Harley-Davidson in Salisbury.
Now, you may be wondering what’s my favorite of the Douglas wines? It is hands down the Enochville Gold with Doug’s sweet dog, Noble, pictured on the label! I bought their last four bottles of it this past year! It will be released again on April 27 at their 4th Birthday Celebration and I’ll be there to grab a couple of bottles. They will be celebrating from 2-5 p.m. with music from the Radio Flyer Bluegrass Band and barbecue from Banbridge BBQ Food Truck. Bring lawn chairs or purchase a table for this event. Visit their Facebook page for all the details!
Their hours of operation are Friday 12-8 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. The vineyard is pet friendly too!
Cauble Creek Vineyards – 100th North Carolina Vineyard
My next vineyard stop on the “North Carolina Winery Guide” was at Cauble Creek Vineyards. There is a beautiful entrance off Hwy 150 into Cauble Creek Vineyards that makes you feel like you are going to an old homestead. I have visited this vineyard many times over the years for different events and I was excited to sit down and chat with one of the owners, Anita Yost. Anita’s husband and owner, Biff Yost, was out pruning grapevines the day I stopped in to visit to find out more about Cauble Creek’s history.
Anita and I sat and sipped on a glass of my favorite wine there, Sweet Anita, named of course after the same person sitting in front of me.
An interesting fact about Cauble Creek Vineyard is that it has the distinction of being the 100th winery to open in the state of North Carolina in August of 2010. They currently have 12 different wines and I must say they are all wonderful.
I asked what made them want to go into the wine business and she told me that Biff’s maternal grandmother, Elma LaVinia Cauble, had lived on the property and she had married a Yost. The property was purchased in the 1900’s and over the years was divided amongst different family members. Anita and Biff wanted to farm the land and grapes seemed like a good idea. They currently have 9 acres of muscadines, Carlos, Doreen, and the Noble red grape. Just north of Rowan County off of I-85, Childress Vineyards crushes and bottles their grapes for Cauble Creek to sell in their shop. Another interesting fact is that their wines are named after family members. The Sweet Anita after Anita, the Monroe is Biff, the Alexander is named after their son’s middle name, and of course the La-Vinia is named after Biff’s grandmother. Both the Monroe and La-Vinia wines have won awards!
Inside the vineyard you will find a lovely sipping room and plenty of space to roam outside on the grounds. They even have a catch and release pond in the back where you can enjoy a bottle of wine while you fish. In the back of the building they have a large room where they have hosted weddings, class reunions, and corporate events. I have been lucky enough to attend several events there including the wedding of my friend, Deanna Sitlinger. They did a wonderful job of catering to all the needs of the couple and their guests.
Cauble Creek will be at several upcoming events including the North Carolina Wine Festival in Tanglewood, NC, Muscadine Festival, and they will have their big 9-year anniversary in August. Cauble Creek Wines are available in the Salisbury Wine Shop in Downtown Salisbury. Father and Son Produce Market carries their muscadine non-alcoholic juices.
Grab a cheese and meat tray or bring a picnic basket and enjoy a bottle of wine on the property. Their hours are Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 1-6 p.m. Children and pets are welcome!
Morgan Ridge Vineyards and Brewery
I was lucky enough to be able to catch up with the owner of Morgan Ridge and trust me that is an accomplishment in itself! Amie Morgan Baudoin is one very busy lady, but she was gracious enough to sit down with me inside of another business she owns at Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery and Eatery in Downtown Salisbury to tell me more about her vineyard and brewery.
Amie’s family settled in the Morgan Township in the late 1700’s in Gold Hill. They were saw millers. Amie grew up in that area and said, “she wanted to give back to the community”. Thus, became the dream and beginning of Morgan Ridge 15 years ago in 2004.
Scenic Drive to Morgan Ridge Vineyards
Morgan Ridge Vineyards is located at 486 John Morgan Road, Gold Hill, NC. They have seven acres of grapes and produce all their wines on the property now. In 2007, they produced their first wines and have never looked back. On the property is a wonderful restaurant along with a beautiful tasting room for both their wines and beer. I was lucky enough to enjoy the Sunday buffet for my birthday last year. It is a beautiful setting with a patio, a pond, a pavilion, and a house with changing rooms that are all beautifully manicured. Artist, Robert Crum, has designed their wine labels and I can personally attest that he is amazing.
Amie and her husband, Tommy, decided that giving back to the community would be bringing in people and boosting the economy in Gold Hill and their wines and beers have done just that. In 2010, they built the winery and 2012 they built the event center for weddings and other social occasions. In 2013, with hosting weddings they knew they also needed to bring in beer so they decided the best way to do that was to begin brewing their own beer! The building that houses changing rooms and bathrooms for events also houses their brewery in the back. Originally, they were only thinking of brewing one beer and calling it “Matrimony Ale”, but decided in 2015 to build the brewery and expand into multiple different beers. We’re glad they did!
Another unique thing about Morgan Ridge Vineyards is Amie’s Airbnb called “The Cottage” located in Gold Hill Village. It sleeps four people and pets are allowed. By the way, she is a super host so if you are looking to make a trip to Gold Hill you should book it for a weekend! There is plenty to do there in the Gold Hill Village including bluegrass music on Friday nights in the Village.
Their hours of operation are Wednesday-Sunday 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Lunch is Wednesday-Saturday 12-3 p.m. and the buffet on Sundays is from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Along Comes Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery and Eatery
Still wanting to give back even more to the community, Amie and Tommy expanded into Downtown Salisbury with Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery and Eatery. This is where I tried my first Morgan Ridge wine and beer. They are located is at 421 North Lee Street, Salisbury, NC. Back in the day, this property was used as a Dry Warehouse for Food Lion with an actual railroad track leading to the building where dry goods were brought by train. The inside décor includes wood from friends’ houses and tin from a friend’s barn. On opening night, I did a Facebook Live with my friend, Wendy Shields, asking everyone to come out!
In this growing arts district in downtown Salisbury, Morgan Ridge Railwalk has drawn in an abundance of people since its opening. Many patrons like to come in for dinner and drinks before walking over to adjacent Lee Street theatre for a play or musical event. You can order a tasty local beer, mash fed beef burgers, steaks, and daily specials from the brewery’s menu. The desserts are always fantastic too! Stop in to try 12 different wines and 18 different beers on tap. They have nightly musical guests as well. My personal favorite from their wine selection are the Merlot and Jolie Blanc (which is named after Amie’s dog) and the Lee Street Brew for beer!
Morgan Ridge will also be at plenty of festivals in the future like the Cheerwine Festival, Hickory Hops Craft Beer & Music Festival in Hickoy, Brewgaloo in Raleigh, Untapped Beer Festival in Charlotte, Jiggy with the Piggy in Kannapolis, and Rural Hill in Huntersville.
Morgan Ridge is a huge supporter of the S.O.A.R. Program in Salisbury and employees adults with intellectual disabilities in support of this program.
Hours of operation at Railwalk are Wednesday-Sunday. Wednesday is 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday is 11 a.m.-11 p.m., and Sunday is 11 a.m.-9 p.m. On Sundays, they serve a delicious brunch where you can get a fantastic Bloody Mary!
All in all, I’d say Rowan County has a lot of bragging rights when it comes to wineries. I know I brag about them all the time! Cheers everyone!