Venture Into Yadkin County for Fall Fun
Just shy of the Blue Ridge Mountains and a hop, skip, and a jump from the bustle of Winston-Salem, you can discover the gentle, rolling country of Yadkin County, marked by fertile forests and fields, and surrounded on two sides by the Yadkin River. Dotted throughout the countryside are vineyards galore, giving the Old North State something to “wine” about.
However, the home of North Carolina’s first designated wine-producing region has more to offer fall travelers than simply good vino. From the cool waters of Lake Hampton to historical hotspots to an active barn quilt trail featuring more than 50 entries, the area is ripe with activities for travelers.
“Yadkin’s people are the salt of the earth – neighborly and friendly – and visitors are welcomed with open arms,” says Bobby Todd, executive director of the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce. “The county is a great mix of past, present and future. We’re proud of Yadkin County.”
Yadkin County Farm Bureau President Justin Somers agrees, noting the welcoming nature of those who live here. “The landscape is just as inviting as the people,” he adds. “From the low flatland of the Yadkin River bottoms to the tops of the eastern end of the Brushy Mountains, the scenery can be truly breathtaking. The landscape supports our diversity in agriculture from vineyards to poultry houses.”
Wine All You Want
When you think of Yadkin County, you might think of wine … and rightly so. Yadkin County is currently home to 13 wineries and is part of the valley that in 2003 was designated North Carolina’s first wine- producing region – the Yadkin Valley American Viticulture Area. In all, the Yadkin Valley AVA spans land throughout seven counties of northwestern North Carolina. “Since the opening of the first Yadkin County winery in 2000 – and another 12 in the years since – Yadkin County has proven that the soils and weather conditions here are optimal for growing great grapes, which produce fantastic wines,” Todd says.
Plan Your Trip
Although North Carolina historically was known for making sweet wines, the majority of wines produced in Yadkin County are European style, including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier, and Cabernet Franc; or French-American hybrids, such as Chambourcin, Seyval Blanc, Chardonel, and Traminette.
One local vineyard worth a visit is Laurel Gray Vineyards, owned by Benny and Kim Myers. Laurel Gray is nestled in the Swan Creek portion of Yadkin County. Named for the couple’s two children, Laurel Gray Vineyards is located on farmland that has been in the family for 10 generations. The vineyard’s tasting room once served as the farm’s milking parlor.
Local wine connoisseurs Matt Kemberling and Joe Brock – also known as the NC Wine Guys – travel the state in search of the best wine, mead, brews and farm-to-fork establishments.
“We like the wineries in the Yadkin Valley because you can meet the owners and taste first-class wine,” Kemberling says. “The Yadkin Valley is a place where you can go to relax, unwind and enjoy a great local wine.”
If you are feeling a bit corny this autumn, be sure to visit the Alpha and Omega Corn Maze, located in Hamptonville. The 20-acre complex was jointly created by Van and Jennifer Hemric and Jason and Lori Walker in 2013, and has grown into a Yadkin County destination for families each fall.
Every June, the 5-acre maze eld is planted with more than 200,000 corn kernels. Once the cornstalks have reached 12 inches or higher, the creation of complex mazes begins with the help of a unique mower outfitted with a GPS. Serpentine paths are cut to connect in picturesque patterns that can be seen from above, including unique designs such as the Farm Bureau logo. Overall, a total of 1.8 miles of walkways are created.
While in Hamptonville, be sure to drop by the Shiloh General Store and Bakery, where you can enjoy homemade breads, jams, cheese, meats, spices, plus toys and Amish wooden furniture. The general store is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
During your travels, keep an eye open for the quaint wooden barn quilts that are sprinkled along the Yadkin County Quilt Trail, which began approximately 10 years ago and currently features 50 entries.
John Willingham, president of the Yadkin Arts Council, says the initiative began when the arts council contacted two local artists and asked them to prepare designs for barn quilt paintings. “Word was circulated locally and individuals came forward to have their barns and buildings painted with quilt designs,” he says. Visit yadkinchamber.org/yadkin-county-barn-quilt-trail.html to download the brochure and plan your route.
Yadkin County has much to offer history buffs, including six Civil War Trail markers. History buffs can visit the 30-acre Richmond Hill Nature Park, featuring the restored home of North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Richmond Mumford Pearson, who opposed secession and created one of the first law schools in the state, Richmond Hill Law School, now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
In all, Yadkin County is rich with possibility for fall travelers. In fact, when asked to name the top three attractions visitors to Yadkin County should explore, Todd was hard pressed.
“It’s too hard to narrow down to just three things,” he says.
Wine aficionado Kemberling agrees. “There’s so much to do in Yadkin Valley – from wine to hiking and learning about history,” he says. “Yadkin Valley has it all.”
– Karsen Price