The Haw River Wine Trail

Thursday, June 24, 2021

  We often like to meander our way through North Carolina on the weekends. Stopping in various small towns along the way and discovering the charm that the Old North State has to offer. Recently we spent a Saturday checking out some vineyards and wineries located along The Haw River Wine Trail and added in a close one, not on the trail, for good measure. The HRWT consists of five artisan wineries that follow along the scenic path of the Haw River. Being in semi-close proximity to The Triangle made for a convenient road trip.

After a quick pit stop in Mebane for some delicious treats from NC Jelly Donuts, we headed to our first stop at Grove Winery in Gibsonville, NC. Grove Winery is located about 10 minutes from Greensboro and is one of the most awarded wineries and estate vineyards on the East Coast. The first grapes on the estate vineyard were planted in April 2002. They specialize in crafting European Style wines.

One of our favorite parts of The Grove Winery was their abundance of outdoor seating. You could definitely make an afternoon with friends and perhaps check out one of their Winery Comedy Tours or grab tickets for their wine and song concert series. 

We tried a variety of their wines and ended up purchasing a bottle of their 2017 Nebbiolo. This is the same grape used in Italy's Barolo wines) It's a robust wine and we enjoyed it with steaks on the grill. 

Next up we headed back to Mebane for some lunch and shopping in their sweet little downtown before popping over to Iron Gates Vineyard

Iron Gates Vineyard is on a former farm in Mebane and Gene & Debbie Stikeleather wanted a way to preserve their farmland and Debbie learned about sustainable agriculture and began building their vineyard with a plan to continue farming the land that had once produced tobacco while focusing on the long term health of the land. Debbie was an absolute joy to talk to and her passion for Iron Gates was evident. She showed us their barrels and the process for making both red and white wine. 

All over the tasting room and the bottles of wine, you will notice artwork by Kenny Glenn weaved throughout the property and they tell the story of the history of the farmland; its past and present.

 Every year, in their back tasting room they host murder mystery dinners and I told my husband we must attend. I have always wanted to go to one as they sound so fun but haven't yet. My favorite part of this room was the handmade stars all lit up around the room. Debbie shared that they were created from old tobacco sticks and this thrilled me. It brought back memories for me of spending my summers on my grandparent's tobacco farm in Virginia.

Iron Gate has a variety of places to sit, sip, relax and enjoy your wine. I loved their patio section. Even though we were there on an exceptionally hot day, sitting outside didn't feel oppressive because they have a covered patio and tables that aren't on the patio are blanketed by umbrellas. Right now they are offering tastings in 1 oz sample-sized glass bottles. 

We grabbed one of their fruit wines to create a sangria with. I typically shy away from sweeter wines but I absolutely love them for summer sangrias. The perfect choice. 

Our last stop of the evening was a place we are more familiar with: Botanist & Barrel. It's located at 86 in Cedar Grove, not too far from Hillsborough. B&B craft southern ciders fruited sours & wine. Their ciders and wines are made using little to no residual sugars. They create minimalistic wines which means they add little to no sulfates, along with no filtering or additives. The practice is known as 'Defi Wines" and is French in Origin and pays homage to their grandparents. 

 They also have a very spacious outdoor set up with plenty of room for friends to meet up and they typically have food trucks on the weekend.  I really like their Forbidden Fruit, which is a blend of blackberries, baby ginger & turmeric. The soft bubbles with the spicy is a tantalizing flavor profile and I am a big fan. 

We have spent much time exploring the wines in the Yadkin Valley and towards the western part of the state and it was a wonderful day to discover wineries closer to home. So, gather some friends and family or head out for a romantic weekend and check out the wineries of Piedmont and the Haw River Trail. ( We didn't make it to all five) There are so many wonderful wineries in NC and be sure to check out The NC Wine Council to plan your wine tasting adventure. 

Thank you to Tabletop Media and  NC Wines for helping to plan my day. While some parts of our wine tasting were complimentary all opinions are my own. 


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