When it comes to alcoholic beverages produced in Appalachia, most people probably think of Kentucky bourbon whiskey, one of the region’s most famous and beloved exports. However, the Appalachian Mountains are also home to a growing number of wineries that are producing award-winning wines. Check out the following list of two of the best wineries in Appalachia.
Located in rural Wise County, Virginia, MountainRose Vineyard stands out as the only winery in this remote area near the borders of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee. The winery produces a number of award-winning red wines, including the Jawbone Red, a Pinot Noir-style blend that features vanilla bean and oak flavors. Over the years, this wine has garnered a number of awards, including the Gold Medal in the Western Division from Virginia Wine Lover Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards in 2015.
Visitors should also try the Dorchester Red, winner of the Gold Medal at the 2015 Wines of the South Regional Wine Competition. With oak and cherry flavors, this off-dry red wine goes well with a number of cheeses. MountainRose Vineyard’s other award-winning red wines include the Pardee Red, which features flavors of grape and cherry and goes well with pasta or honey ham. This red won the Silver Medal in the Western Division from Virginia Wine Lover Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards in 2014.
MountainRose Vineyard also produces a number of award-winning white wines, including the Splashdam White, which features flavors of green apple, citrus, and grapefruit and pairs well with chicken or Mexican cuisine. Highly awarded, this dry white wine won the Bronze Medal at the 2018 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition and the Silver Medal at the 2019 Virginia State Fair Wine Competition.
White wine lovers should also try the Sweet MountainRose, winner of the Bronze Medal at the 2016 Wines of the South Regional Wine Competition. This deliciously sweet wine also won the 2014 Best Dessert Wine Award in the Western Division from Virginia Wine Lover Magazine’s Readers Choice Awards in 2014.
Another excellent dessert wine is the Autumn Gold, which is made from Vidal Blanc grapes and boasts flavors of lychee and honey. This dessert wine took home the Gold Medal at the 2014 Virginia Wine Lover Magazine’s Wine Classic. Another award-winning white wine is the Kelliokee, a semi-sweet sparkling Traminette that features a bouquet of orange blossom and tropical notes on the finish. Kelliokee won the Gold Medal at the 2018 Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition.
MountainRose Vineyard also hosts a number of fun events for visitors, including lunches, cocktail parties, and even murder mystery dinners. To learn more about the vineyard, its wines, and its events, visit www.mountainrosevineyard.com.
Banner Elk Winery & Villa
Located in North Carolina’s High Country, Banner Elk Winery & Villa offers picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Founded in 2005, the winery has become a leader in commercial winemaking in the region. In addition to growing its own grapes, the winery sources grapes from other local growers and provides guidance to the rising number of winemakers who are planting American and French-American grapes in the region.
Banner Elk Winery & Villa has won a number of awards over the years, including a Local Favorites Award in 2015 from Culture Trip. The winery’s award-winning red wines include the Cabernet Sauvignon, winner of the Gold Medal at the 2015 North Carolina State Fair. Aged for 12 months in French oak, this wine boasts mature tannins and a black currant aroma.
Banner Elk Winery & Villa’s other award-winning red wines include the Banner Elk Red, which won the Silver Medal at the 2015 North Carolina State Fair. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Marechal Foch, and Petite Syrah, this wine offers flavors of raspberry, cherry, and oak.
Another award-winning red wine is the Marechal Foch Reserve, a French-American hybrid varietal. Winner of the Bronze Medal in both 2015 and 2016 at the North Carolina State Fair, this wine features flavors of plum, cherry, and blackberry.
Banner Elk Winery & Villa also produces a few white wines, including the Seyval Blanc Reserve, which took home the Silver Medal at the North Carolina State Fair in 2016. This semi-sweet wine resembles a dry Riesling and features hints of pear, honeydew, and peach.
White wine lovers should also try the Banner Elk White, a blend of Seyval Blanc, Viognier, and Traminette. This wine stands out as the winner of the Gold Medal at the 2013 Next Generation Wine Competition in Sonoma County, California.
For something truly unique, visitors should try the Banner Elk Blueberry Wine. Made on the winery’s famous blueberry farm, this full-bodied wine goes well with fresh fruit and a variety of desserts.
One of the more unique features about a visit to Banner Elk Winery & Villa is the opportunity to stay in the Tuscan-style villa. Guests can choose from one of eight luxury suites, each featuring a private jacuzzi and beautiful mountain views.
To learn more about Banner Elk Winery & Villa, visit www.bannerelkwinery.com.