Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Drive to West Bend Vineyards

Sunday in North Carolina we had what convertible owners like to call a "top down" day.  Our chariot was waiting, and we couldn't resist because who knew when the weather would turn back to the yucky stuff.  So we headed out into the countryside, enjoyed the fresh air, and wound up at a nearby winery. On our way there, we passed this mill house, which is neat but, unfortunately, a little too close to the road.  It is a private residence and has been for many years.

Westbend Vineyards lies within the Yadkin Valley Appellation, one of three federally recognized American Viticultural Areas (AVA) in North Carolina.  As of the first of this year, North Carolina had 98 wineries spread across the state.  Cuttings from a 400-year old vine, which yields sweet scuppernong grapes, helped to start North Carolina's wine industry.  The very large grapevine, which came to be known as the Mother Vine, can still be seen today (and is visited year-round) in the town of Manteo, on Roanoke Island, NC.

Westbend Vineyards just happens to be the closest one to our home, and we only had time for a short outing on Sunday, so that's where we headed.  There are a few wineries in our region which are much larger and are really first-class; very impressive.  Compared to those, Westbend's buildings are much smaller, but it is charming and has a more intimate feel to it, and their wines have won national and regional awards. Westbend has 60 acres of vinifera vineyards, and produces over 6,000 cases a year.  So I thought I'd share some pictures of the winery with you.  I hope you enjoy them.

Just an unadorned grapevine wreath on the side door.

Some visitors brought their four-legged friends to enjoy a day in the sunshine as well.

Vineyard #1, established in 1972.

I just love this entry with the tapestry depicting the grape harvest.

...and their cases of award-winning wines.

A portrait of the founder and owner, Jack Kroustalis, who recently passed away.

Are there any wineries in your area?  If you haven't paid them a visit, you might want to do so on a nice afternoon.  Even if you don't drink wine, it's just fun to see the scenery and learn a little about the people and the business.  Most of these are family owned and operated wineries, and it's fascinating to see what goes into making them work.  Many of them also have small restaurants serving food prepared from fresh, local fruit, cheeses, vegetables and herbs.  Here's hoping you can all get out and enjoy something fun and relaxing, even if it's just a stroll around your neighborhood.


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