Just when you’re getting over the disappointment that NC Beer Month had to end, along comes a month of NC wine festivals in the vicinity of Winston-Salem and the Yadkin Valley that will give you much to smile about.
Tarheel Taps & Corks has attended and written about each of these festivals, beginning with the NC Wine Festival in Clemmons in 2012 and a rainy Yadkin Wine Festival in Elkin, 2013. But the Salute! NC Wine Festival, which I attended last May in Winston-Salem, may be my favorite wine festival yet.
Salute offers a real food and wine experience that you don’t find in every wine festival, held on June 6 in downtown Winston-Salem this year. The Salute experience includes winemaker dinners, pairing wineries with local chefs, and this year, an appearance by Atlanta chef and food writer Virginia Willis.
One of my favorite activities last year was the NC Food and Wine University, a street-side culinary demonstration, pairing food samples with an NC wine. Every 45 minutes of the wine festival, the university tent featured a cooking demo, a paired wine for tasting and, if there was enough to go around, a small food sample.
The urban setting for the festival also makes it different from the Clemmons and Elkins festivals. The food vendors were good, but if you need a sit down meal, you can stop in one of Winston-Salem’s many downtown restaurants. Wine’s not your thing? Stop by Foothills Brewery for a beer.
The list of participating wineries is geographically diverse — ranging from Biltmore Winery in Asheville to Noni Bacca in Wilmington. Salute offers those with a passion for NC wines a chance to taste some of the best and discover the variety of wines produced, from Raffaldini’s “Chianti of the Carolinas,” to Starlight Meade’s honey wine to Duplin Winery’s native muscadine wines.
The festivals begin May 16 and run through June 6. For information and tickets, visit the festival websites:
Yadkin Valley Wine Festival, May 16, Elkin: yvwf.com
NC Wine Festival, May 23, Clemmons: www.ncwinefestival.com
Salute! NC Wine, June 6, Winston-Salem: www.salutencwine.com