Boone plays home to a bounty of breweries, where there is no shortage of places to enjoy a beer crafted locally.
For those looking for a different pace, there are the wineries of the High Country. While the word vineyard draws up images of France and Napa Valley in California, Watauga County serves as a location in the eastern United States for award-winning wines made and bottled locally.
For a fun weekend activity with friends or parents, consider visiting one or all three of the following wineries in the area.
Grandfather Vineyard and Winery
Fifteen minutes from campus off of Highway 105, Grandfather Vineyard and Winery is a family-owned business that opened in 2011.
Located at the base of Grandfather Mountain and along the Watauga River, the views will not disappoint. The family’s three dogs serve as the unofficial greeters of the winery, welcoming visitors with wagging tails and tennis balls in their mouths, begging to be played with.
The tasting room provides a variety of options depending on your comfort and familiarity with different wines, separating them by white wines and red wines. A tasting of four wines costs $6, and a tasting of eight runs at $8. Each tasting includes a souvenir wine glass to commemorate the trip. The tasting is a great way to try what the winery has to offer while also discovering something you might not have tried before.
The vineyard grounds have chairs facing the mountain and creek that allow visitors to enjoy both their wine and the view. The winery also encourages visitors to bring food along with them if they please, serving as a quality location for a picnic or a late afternoon snack.
Banner Elk Winery
The Banner Elk Winery is located in Banner Elk at a 30-minute drive from campus.
For $12, you can sample all of the winery’s wines, both white and red, which equates to a whole glass by the end of the tasting. The experts leading the tasting give in to the experience. They ask for feedback from tasters and give interesting facts about each wine. The interior of the tasting room is cozy and rustic.
Outside, a lit fire in the fire pit in front of a lake on the winery grounds serves as a nice backdrop to the experience.
Linville Falls Winery
A 40-minute drive from campus on a 40-acre farm in Newland sits Linville Falls Winery. In the parking lot, you’ll see cars with license plates from South Carolina and Alabama, as the attraction draws in visitors from all over.
Inside a Tuscan-inspired building is the tasting room, where visitors can try a selection of five wines for $5 or all of the winery’s eight wines for $8.
The blueberry wine is a bronze medal winner at the North Carolina Wine Competition and one of the more unique wines you’ll find in the High Country.
The winery features a patio for enjoying wines, a view of the mountains and hiking trails. The vineyard’s grapes are grown alongside Christmas trees on the farm, instilling a true High Country experience.
While the wine scene in Boone caters to tourists and visitors from all over, they provide as an excellent and new way to branch out into wines. The experience is relaxing and educational — you come away with a nice day well spent and some new knowledge about wines.
Story: Casey Suglia, Intern A&E Reporter
Photo: Sarah Weiffenbach, Intern Photographer