Life and Religion
|N.C. destinations: A weekend in the Yadkin Valley|
|A taste of Surry County|
|Published Wednesday, September 18, 2013 10:00 am|
|PHOTO/SAM DEAN, SURRY COUNTY TOURISM
My first stop for the weekend is dinner with JOLO Winery & Vineyard proprietors JW and Kristen Ray. JOLO is the Yadkin Valley's newest winery and future home of End Posts, an upscale boutique restaurant and taste room. The winery is scheduled for a soft opening, booking private tours and events beginning in November. JOLO will celebrate its official grand opening March 2014 when End Posts opens to the public.
Day 1: Dinner at JOLO
After checking into the Hampton Inn & Suites in Dobson, N.C. (Exit 93 off I-77), we take a 30-minute drive to Pilot Mountain to join J.W. and Kristen Ray for dinner.
|PHOTO/MICHAELA L. DUCKETT|
|JOLO's Surry Stacked 'Maters with mozzarella and basil pesto puts a new spin on tomato sandwiches.
The Rays own and operate JOLO Winery and Vineyards (219 JOLO Winery Lane), the Yadkin Valley's newest winery, which is scheduled to begin booking private events with a soft opening in November. The public grand opening will be held in March.
The Rays purchased the property, which sits on an 81-acre tract of land, and planted a vineyard in 2010. JOLO is named after their two sons Joe and Logan.
For dinner, the Rays served a four-course meal from the menu of their soon-to-open restaurant and taste room, End Posts, which is currently under construction and scheduled to open next spring at JOLO. The upscale boutique restaurant and taste room will feature an open kitchen, seat 24 and feature a seasonal menu that changes weekly.
Since JOLO's first vintage of grapes has just come out the ground, each course was paired with wines from McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks (www.McRitchieWine.com). The family-owned and operated winery has a reputation for its ciders, but its wines are amazing.
Day 2: Merlot and Mayberry
The following morning, we take a short drive from Dobson to Mayberry. Oops, I mean Mount Airy, the hometown of Andy Griffith.
I can see why so many people think that Mayberry, the fictional setting for “The Andy Griffith Show” is an actual town. In fact, many of the people living there seem to think so as well. After all, Griffith is quoted as saying that Mayberry is just a "state of mind.”
But for some, that state of mind has crossed into the physical realm. Mount Airy's historic downtown is filled with people who have taken on the personas of fictional characters from “The Andy Griffith Show” - from Barney Fife to Floyd the Barber.
Even the businesses have incorporated "Mayberry" into their names. Some borrowed their entire names from fictional places featured on the show.
Snappy Lunch (125 North Main Street) is one of few businesses mentioned on the show that actually predates the series. We stop by to try the famous pork chop sandwich, which is more of a pork tenderloin served a on big bun and piled high with chili, slaw, mustard, onions and tomato.
After leaving Snappy, we walk a couple of blocks to the Andy Griffith Museum (218 Rockford Street), where Tanya Jones greets us by the TV Land Landmark Statue of Andy and Opie going fishing and gives us a guided tour.
After visiting the museum, we take the Squad Car Tours (www.TourMayberry.com) around Mount Airy – down Main Street past Floyd's Barber Shop where "Barney Fife" is passing out tickets for offenses such as "Excessive cell phone use," "being obtuse" and "spreading hog-wash." We also visit the town's open-face granite quarry, which is the world’s largest.
The squad cars drop us off at Wally's Service Station (625 S. Main St.), which is located next to the Old Jail and Visitor's Center. Then, we head downtown and indulge in little retail therapy, purchasing souvenirs, before having lunch and a wine tasting at Old North State Winery & Brewery (308 North Main Street).
|PHOTO/MICHAELA L. DUCKETT|
|The mountain views at Round Peak Vineyards are breathtaking. It's the perfect destination for sipping wine on the "crush pad" while watching the sunset.|
After lunch we took a short ride to Round Peak Vineyards (765 Round Peak Church Road), and the mountain views are amazing. It’s the perfect place to come chill on the spacious back porch, which they call the crush pad, and watch the sunset.
The vineyard sits on 12 acres and produces 8 French and Italian varietals. However, they are currently rolling out a second line of semi-dry wines under the label Skull Camp. In the coming months, Round Peak is opening a restaurant and microbrewery. I can’t wait to go back.
We capped off the evening back in Dobson with a tour of the state’s largest vineyards, Shelton Vineyards (286 Cabernet Lane). It’s owned by brothers Ed and Charlie Shelton, who have strong ties to Charlotte. They built the Hearst Tower and a number of other buildings. It was cool touring the vineyard and learning how the brothers literally built their business empire from the ground up.
We have dinner at Harvest Grill (286 Cabernet Lane), where I fall in love with the Southwestern Lobster Salad, which is a mix of lobster, guacamole, roasted corn Pico de Gallo and cilantro sour cream served with flour tortilla chips.
Day 3: Historic Downtown Elkin
The next day we travel 10 miles down the highway to Elkin for lunch and a wine tasting at Elkin Creek Vineyards (318 Elkin Creek Mill Road). On Sundays they serve brick-oven pizzas. We order the Bacon Brie pizza, which does not disappoint.
Afterwards, we head over to Brushy Mountain Winery (125 West Main St.) in historic downtown Elkin for another wine tasting. We’re greeted by Beth Duncan, who gives us a little background on the small town and how the historic downtown area is slowly being revitalized.
Beth pours the best wine I tasted the entire trip, the Brushy Mounty Booger Swamp White. Despite the name, this wine has the most amazing nose – brimming with the aromas of tropical fruits including mango, peach, apricot and honey. It could easily be made into a candle and tastes as delicious as it smells.
We walk a couple of blocks down Main Street to Elkin’s newest hangout, 222 Public House at The Liberty.
It’s housed in an old tobacco house that has been renovated and converted into an event hall, gift shop and sports bar. The Panthers are playing. We watch them lose, then hit the road back to Charlotte.
|Posted on September 19, 2013|
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