Take a sip of North Carolina’s best.

Featuring: Mocksville, NC – Yadkinville, NC – Hamptonville, NC

RayLen Vineyards

Located in Davie county and named after their two daughters, Rachel and Helen, Joe and Joyce Neely founded RayLen vineyards in 1999.
Although before becoming a vineyard, the piece of land RayLen sits on was a dairy farm. After hurricane Hugo damaged the area it stayed empty for a decade until the Neely’s bought the land. Today they have nearly quadrupled in size since their humble beginnings in 1999.

Continuing with the hurricane theme they named one of their most famous red wines Category 5. This wine features a blend of five of their red varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France, Merlot, Syrah, and Petit Verdot).

  • Founding member of the Yadkin Valley Appellation with over 35,000 vines on their property
  • Home to the largest field of solar panels in NC which cuts energy costs in half

Steve Shepard, the winemaker at RayLen, strives to pave the way in sustainable wine making and is proud to be putting these environmentally friendly practices into place. Shepard, who is known as the Godfather of N.C. wine, came to North Carolina in 1989.

For more information, visit the RayLen website.

Hanover Park

In this old world style winery, two former art teachers, Michael and Amy Helton, created a place where both connoisseurs and newcomers of wine would be welcomed.
They began planting vineyards in the spring of 1997 and 1998 and opened in July of 2000. With their first harvest producing 375 cases they started their passion for the wine industry. In this atmosphere they included an 1897 farmhouse tasting room and outdoor spaces under old oak trees.

This couple has also gone on many excursions to France to further understand the older French methods and blends that their winery is known for. One of these France inspired wines is their Mourvedre, which is a grape from the south of France that they blend with a little Syrah, Carignan and Cinsault.

You might also see these two artists around the vineyard painting the beautiful landscapes and scenery of Hanover Park or, if you’re lucky, get a kiss from their sweet dog Pearl. 

For more information, visit the Hanover Park website

Windsor Run Cellars

Chuck Johnson is the proud owner of Windsor Run Cellars which is the only winery in North Carolina to make spirits alongside their wine. They have a diverse selection of classic French wines, sweet summer-inspired blends, and their signature fortified wines infused with spirits. Their talent is blending together grapes well-suited to North Carolina’s weather and a modern data-based approach to wine making. The vineyard was first planted in 2002 and spreads across 9 acres of land. The distillery was established 5 years later and is also known for the 10-foot-high cage that separates the winery and distillery. The government wasn’t entirely confident about having a functioning distillery inside of a winery so a lockable chain link fence gave them some peace of mind. Master Distiller Dana Acker delivers some unique products such as White Widow and Killer Bee. White Widow is made from the Traminette grape and is said to be comparable to a good Tequila. Killer Bee is fermented from genuine Killer Bee honey and is a smooth liquor with a subtle honey flavor. Once you’ve learned the history of the combined winery and brewery mosey over to the Reeves Theater & Cafe in historic downtown Elkin, NC. It is a home for music and farm-to-table dining in the heart of the foothills.

Skull Camp Brewing

This establishment is also a brewery and winery, but on top of that, a smokehouse. So if your stomach is growling for a bite to eat, but you’re not ready to stop the discovery of new wines and beers, look no further than Skull Camp Brewing. The brewery and restaurant will be sure to satiate all your needs, but it’s the great people there that will add that extra oomph to the experience. Owners Ken Gulaian and Kari Heerdt started brewing a variety of beers in 2012, half a barrel at a time. Eventually, their popularity grew and they were able to expand to a new 10-barrel system located in Elkin. Heerdt has her “corporate job” to look after so she mostly leaves the hard stuff to the team at Skull Camp. Gulaian is the owner and winemaker there. On his profile you’ll see that he loves to grow grapes and turn those grapes into both traditional dry Round Peak wines and fun approachable Skull Camp canned wines. The next member of the team is Skull Camp’s head brewmaster Jeff Leftwich. He is an outdoorsy dad who spends his free time camping, backpacking, and making beer. One of those beers includes a scotch ale that has a refreshing maltiness called Beam Me Up. Another core beer is their mild but strong porter called Cave Dweller. Elkin, NC is the crossroads to many of the regions hiking trails including The Mountains to Sea Trail, Yadkin River “blue water trail” and the Overmountain Victory Trail.

Shelton Vineyards

The last stop on this tasty adventure is Shelton Vineyards. Here they grow a variety of different vitis vinifera grapes including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Charlie and Ed Shelton believe that fine wines begin at the vineyard and utilize a gravity flow system that reduces the number of contaminants that find their way into the product. Their bistro, Harvest Grill, specializes in sophisticated comfort food and if it is a beautiful day you can enjoy a seat out on the patio that overlooks the grapevines. The Sheltons are native to Mount Airy and have worked the majority of their lives in the construction and real estate business. Prior to Shelton Vineyards, they created and sold the company Shelco, Inc. which is a general construction company. They were also key players in petitioning the federal government for the American Viticultural Area recognition for North Carolina’s first AVA. They have just recently added winemaker Ethan Brown to their team. Brown has worked as an official winemaker since he was 19 years old on his family’s winery. He is a native to the Yadkin Valley and is an alumni of the five million dollar winemaking school at Surry Community College. With his numerous international awards, Brown plans to stay true to Shelton’s winemaking techniques while still improving year after year. After learning about Shelton Vineyards stop by the Andy Griffith museum or if you want a laugh and some entertainment, take a squad car tour to learn some more about the role North Carolina played in the Andy Griffith Show. The knowledgeable tour guides drive you around in an old Mayberry squad car to see Barney’s Cafe, Floyd’s Barber shop, Snappy Lunch and finally Andy’s original homeplace.