Read about two more wineries in my winter tour of the southern Haw River Valley AVA in North Carolina’s Piedmont: Wolfe Winery and SilkHope Winery. For more information on the AVA, visit: www.hawriverwinetrail.com.
Wolfe Winery, Snow Camp
Set the GPS for Wolfe Winery, the second stop on my tour. Wolfe is truly a sweet wine lover’s paradise. They serve a variety of fruit wines – blackberry, raspberry, cherry, apple, strawberry, blueberry and kiwi – along with several muscadine and vinifera grape wines. Fruit wines are made from berries and apples mainly from other states, such as Michigan, where the seasonal fruits are plentiful. One exception is the Wild Blackberry, made from blackberries “harvested here in Snow Camp along the Old Plank Road.”
The other wines include Niagara, a Vitas lambrusca grape native to America and grown in the Haw River Valley; Sweetheart’s Ride, from the Cynthia Norton grapes, America’s native vinifera, as well as Merlot and Chambourcin. There is also Simon’s Gold, a wine made from bronze muscadines, and another simply called Muscadine, from fruit harvested in the Yadkin Valley. Many of these wines come in dry, semi-sweet and even sweet.
Being partial to dry wines, and taking this tour on my own, I declined to try every wine that was available, although the generous winery owners certainly encouraged me. I tried to steer toward the more traditional vinifera wines. The sweets and semi-sweets were a little too sweet for me. I bought a bottle of the Niagara because it was new to me, and I wanted to take home something produced from locally grown grapes.
I sampled the wild blackberry and raspberry fruit wines. Both were full-bodied and paired well with a piece of dark chocolate.
The tasting room is comfortable and the winery owners very generous. A nice stop on the southern portion of the Haw River AVA. I recommend a summer visit, when the local Snow Camp Outdoor Theater, featuring historical dramas, is open.
SilkHope Winery, Pittsboro
A few more rural miles of cattle and pastures bring me to SilkHope Winery. A winding, gravel driveway leads to the top, where the winery and vineyard include a panoramic view of the countryside. From the vineyard at 700 feet elevation, you might think you were somewhere in the foothills of North Carolina.
The winery is certainly the most humble I visited today. A concrete structure, with no windows, it looks more like an industrial building than a tasting room (actually, it is both). A sign outside the building reads, “Open, Come on In – Just HONK for wine; We may be in the vineyard.” But don’t judge a book, or a winery, by its cover.
Inside, the winery I found wine making equipment in one corner, boxes and displays everywhere and three tables for tasting. I chose to taste the seven reds, and found each one to be more satisfying than the previous. Red wines produced include Cabarnet Franc, Norton and Chamborcin, as well as a blend.
The owner says he used to age his wine in oak barrels, but now he adds pieces of French oak to stainless fermenting tanks instead. The reds are robust, tannic, yet very smooth. I was especially drawn to Grand Vista, a blend of Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin and a double gold medal winner at the N.C. State Fair. In the end, I couldn’t resist the ‘10 Chambourcin, also a gold medal fair winner, described as “our best yet.”
I would like to visit again to sample the long list of SilkHope’s white wines: Traminette, a grape new to North Carolina; White Merlot, Seyval Blanc; Vidal Blanc; American- and French-style Chambourcin, and Sisters of Satisfaction, a blend. Sounds like a good summer/fall opportunity.