Gloriousviews both long and short fill the Yadkin Valley. Photo by BlendedFamily TMOM Christine Tibbetts

Glorious views both long and short fill the Yadkin Valley. Photo by BlendedFamily TMOM Christine Tibbetts

So many places you might consider a wine-tasting vacation; focus on North Carolina’s northwest corner with a catchy name and see if your checklist tips the balance for the valley known as Yadkin and its Yadkin Valley wines.

Rivaled my solo wine tasting walking tour in Santa Barbara a few years ago for beauty, flavors, fun-to-talk-to winemakers and multitude of choices.

Surpassed that California experience with stories of families intentionally choosing Surry County, North Carolina to launch or to relocate a grape-growing winemaking lifestyle.

Yadkin Valley for Kids

This exploration included my designated-driver non-drinking husband, and we saw a host of activities to involve the kids in our blended family had we invited them.That includes the teens exploring colleges with an eye for a specific career.

Maybe all you want is the wine, and a few days devoted to drinking. OK. Do so in the Yadkin Valley and lots of places, east and west coast, Missouri too.

If you’d also like some remarkable science served with the Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Riesling – four of the at least 11 grapes which grow well here, choose this North Carolina valley. Here’s some science:

  • The climate mirrors Bordeaux, France
  • The latitude matches Sicily
  • The soil tests out like Tuscany
  • The topography is ancient with the Appalachian Mountains as old as the Himalayas.

Research Documents Wine-Growing Quality

This is not some brochure-writing notion; this is extensive research documenting every aspect required to designate a region – American Viticultural Area.

Ten varieties of grapes distinguish North Carolina wines. Photo by Blended Family TMOM Christine Tibbetts

Ten varieties of grapes distinguish North Carolina wines. Photo by Blended Family TMOM Christine Tibbetts

I didn’t learn all that while tasting my new favorite Riesling at Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, North Carolina. The brothers behind this estate winery don’t intrude with all they could brag about if so inclined.

I had to hunt up the backstory so I could boast for Ed and Charlie Shelton. Seems they made a comfortable living in the construction industry and wanted to create jobs for others, growing the economy with grapes.

After all, tobacco was no longer the region’s agriculture titan. Not a whim, this planting in 1999—science.

American Viticulture Designation

By 2003 the research they launched determined the Yadkin Valley is an American Viticultural Area.

Those facts attracted grape growers and winemakers from the Napa Valley. Different lifestyle for them in the south perhaps?

With local folks seeing their land with new eyes—elevations and growing seasons favorable to vineyards—clamoring for knowledge to assure high quality winemaking began.

That’s why I could take my teens to visit because Surry Community College now operates a $5 million Center for Viticulture & Enology.

College students master the agriculture and the science of winemaking. Photo by Blended Family TMOM Christine Tibbetts

College students master the agriculture and the science of winemaking. Photo by Blended Family TMOM Christine Tibbetts

That means a legit college degree in wine. Licensed, bonded, certified and respected this path to education. Solid science, solid education and seems like a great benefit to my wine drinking blended family of many ages.

Continuing education, too, with growers and winemakers learning more all the time.

Meet some of them as you sip. Their places and their stories seemed charmingly different to me.

First in a series about how to consider Yadkin Valley, North Carolina wine holidays.  Find the second installment here.

Expect insight about the great outdoors in this lovely land too; it’s a combo experience with the vineyards.