Monday, September 05, 2011

Visiting a Vineyard

Carole and I drove north of Charlotte with Carole's mom to eat at a country restaurant she'd heard about from some of her friends. Now I want to destroy some of her friends, but the less said about that unfortunate venture, the better.

We then tried to head over to Pilot Mountain State Park. I wanted to hike one of the trails there that was closed for construction the last time I'd been at the park, so we drove there and started up the road to the summit. Unfortunately, being a holiday weekend, there were so many other human beings wanting to do the same thing that there was a traffic jam just short of the summit and an accompanying 20-minute wait just to get a parking spot. I turned around and headed back down the mountain and we went to our backup plan and headed for one of the half-dozen or so wineries in the area.

We weren't picky about which winery, since we'd never visited any of them. So we chose the one that was closest to our pathway home:

Shelton Vineyards.

As it turned out, I think we made quite a good choice. The family who built and owns this vineyard are obviously very serious folk who have plowed a considerable investment into the facility. Previously, it was a 258-acre dairy farm, but has been converted into a first-class vineyard. The vines are mainly European varieties grafted to native root stock (since apparently European types will die if they use their own root systems here in North America). The farm has more than 144,000 vines producing grapes here. It's a most amazing sight to behold.

During the visit we took the tour of the farm and plant which costs a ridiculously low $5 which includes the wine glass you're given for tasting, and samples of five different wines (at the end of the tour). Plus, we were offered tastes of three other wines during the physical tour of the facility itself, so the experience was quite the bargain. Most vineyards, even here in the South, charge far more than this for a tour and tasting round. And this was an exceptional place.

Following, then, are some photos and brief comments of our visit to Shelton Vineyards:

I think this is a home where one of the vineyard's owner resides. Not sure, but it seems like a good candidate for such. The landscaping and grounds were most impressive.

Inside the main building we were greeted to this bright and inviting store/tasting room.

Lots of wines on display, waiting to be tasted.

We begin the tour with a sample vine showing how the European type was grafted to an American root system to prevent infection by native pests.

Where fermentation takes place.

Behind the fermentation building there were more vines over the rolling hills. More than 200 acres of them.

The grapes are hand harvested. They were in a hurry to harvest ripening grapes because of the threat being presented by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee which was headed toward the area.

We were offered samples of these fresh grapes. I was surprised at how very sweet they were. Almost like sugar.

This machine processes crushed grapes, expelling only the stems.

Grapes in the hopper waiting to be crushed.

Many casks of wine.

We were allowed to view the rows of casks. These could be reserved for $600 each, awaiting fermentation and later bottling for your personal use.

Carole enjoying a taste of a white wine as we took the tour.

The Shelton Vineyard crest.

A bottling machine which was not running while we were present.

Back out in the tasting area we were given information on the wines, crackers to cleanse the palate...and wine.

The tasting commences.

Another view of the tasting area and shop.

Lake and grounds.

As I said, the place is tastefully landscaped. I was impressed at the vast investment that has obviously been poured into this facility.

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