Eco-Friendly Wineries in the Yadkin Valley – North Carolina Wine Country

When it comes to wine, North Carolina Wine Country is a serious contender.

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]alifornia’s Napa Valley is well-known for its world-renowned wineries, but it’s not the only wine-producing region in the United States.

The Yadkin Valley in North Carolina is steadily gaining accolades thanks to a robust viticulture program at the Surry County Community College and the fact that its wineries are churning out some mighty fine-tasting wines.

Southern wines haven’t had a good following until recently. Admittedly, most just weren’t that good and were made primarily from Muscadine grapes, native to the southeastern U.S. But the 36-plus wineries in the Yadkin Valley are now producing great-tasting, award-winning wines from a surprisingly large variety of grapes and are eco-friendly in the process. North Carolina Wine Country is rapidly gaining a reputation for good southern wine.

The viticulture program at the Surry Community College sets the stage and is the entry point for many winemakers in the area. The program began in 2004 and has had about 25 graduates in the past five years, most of whom have gone on to run their own vineyard in the area. There’s a bonded winery and vineyard on campus, and program participants learn the grittiness of the job, from getting up at 4 a.m. to check the grapes to the never-ending process of growing, bottling and marketing their products.

Vitaculture program at North Carolina's Surry Community College
Vitaculture program at North Carolina’s Surry Community College – Photo by Sherry Jackson

Here’s a look at some of the Yadkin Valley Wineries and what makes them unique.

Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery

This is the first USDA-Certified organic winery and vineyard in North Carolina. Clyde and Pat Colwell wanted to do something active in retirement with a more sustainable, less carbon footprint. So in 2005 they decided to pursue Clyde’s life-long dream of establishing his own vineyard and winery, and make it eco-friendly. The house and wine-tasting room are solar powered and Clyde experiments with different animals such as guinea pigs to assist with bugs and weeds in the vineyards. Most of their grapes are native to the region and they use several Muscadine varieties. They are currently working on planting an Isabella Grape which was used in the 1800s near Charleston, South Carolina, to make a new table wine label.

Elkin Creek Vineyard and Winery

Elkin Creek Vineyard in North Carolina wine country
Early morning at the Elkin Creek Vineyard – Photo by: Sherry Jackson

Open since 2010, this winery has the hilliest vineyard in the Yadkin Valley. New owners Louis and Carrie Jeroslow, and Nick and Jennifer White met while working for the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas. The two couples fell in love with the area when the Whites were married at the winery in 2008. The property contains a mill (circa 1896) with all of its original mill equipment, which is now the home of the two families. Nick, who took online viticulture classes from Surry Community College while in Vegas, has gone from drummer to vineyard manager. Jennifer, the head stage manager, now stages weddings and special events. Louis, a special effects engineer and amateur winemaker, is now a professional winemaker, while Carrie, resident director in Vegas, directs a lot of operations and handles wellness and her ministry duties. “We all bring specific talents and skills that fit really well,” Jennifer White said. “We worked together through Blue Man Group for so long that we developed teamwork and communication skills. It’s a pretty incredible team.”

Grassy Creek Vineyard & Winery

This winery is set on what was a family hunting retreat in the 1920s for the Chatham and Haynes manufacturing families, and was where they would bring their corporate guests for wining and dining. The Chatham family later founded Klondike Dairy ,claiming to have the sweetest chocolate milk anywhere. There are three cabins onsite, along with the original hunting lodge, that are available to rent. The eight-acre property also has a pond and a dam that is a mini replica of the Hoover Dam and generates electricity for the property. The winery is located in what was once an old barn,and the owners maintain the farm-like atmosphere by bottling all of their table wines in Italian milk bottles.

Klondike wine from Grassy Creek Winery in North Carolina Wine Country
Klondike wine from Grassy Creek Winery – Photo by: Sherry Jackson

McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks

In addition to being a winery, McRitchie is the only cidery in North Carolina. Patricia Sean McRitchie have planted more than 22 varieties of apples used to produce their hard ciders.

McRitchie Winery makes its wines from locally sourced grapes that are grown with minimal chemical sprays.

Sean’s father was a winemaker in California and Oregon, and Sean had worked in wineries and vineyards in Oregon’s Willamette Valley and the Napa Valley,and all over the world including France and Australia before opening his own winery in 2006. McRitchie is also the only vineyard that uses old English sheep to manage the grass on the back portion of their land.

Brushy Mountain Winery

Located in downtown historic Elkin, the Brushy Mountain Winery is housed in what was once the Elkin Canning Company in the early 1900s. Owners Matthew and Ann Mayberry,married 63 years, like to experiment with their wines, producing both a raspberry wine and blackberry wine. Their Bugaboo Creek Red is named after the revolutionary war battles at Cowpens and Kings Mountain, and “was our best wine until we made the one after it, says Matthew.

Stony Knoll Vineyards

Stony Knoll’s vineyards were planted in 2001, but this 116-year-old family property was once a working tobacco farm. The farm has been in owners Kathy and Van Coe’s family since 1896, and, they now produce “some of the best wines in the world, on the best property,” according to Van. The tobacco history of the property actually creates a great soil profile in which to plant grapes, as farmers plowed the land for years producing nutrient-rich topsoil. They have planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay and Syrah grapes for their wines.

Wine bottle from Stony Knoll Vineyards in North Carolina Wine Country
Wine bottle from Stony Knoll Vineyards – Photo by: Sherry Jackson

Old North State Winery

Located on Main Street in downtown Mount Airy this “haunted” winery, deli and brewery is located in an old mercantile building constructed in 1885 by Thomas Franklin Prather. Legend has it that due to a disagreement with Prather, the owner of the neighboring general store set dynamite along the store front in 1926, completely destroying the store façade. Belk’s Department Stores purchased the building and rebuilt the storefront, where they stayed until 1969. During the reconstruction, the bones of a human arm were found. To this day no one knows to whom the arm belongs. The staff of Old North State Winery often notice mysterious events inside the building—such as footsteps on the hardwood floors, closing doors, shuffling feet, shadowy movement and feeling a presence. The Old North State staff dedicated a wine to this wandering sleepless spirit called Restless Soul.

Round Peak Vineyards

Acreage-wise, Round Peak is one of the bigger properties with more than 30 acres (12 in production), growing eight different varieties of grapes.

The property is very pet friendly, as most vineyards are, but they go a step further with a fenced in area where Fido can roam.

Round Peak is best known for its red wines and are one of the few wineries in North Carolina that produce a Sangiovese. The large outdoor deck is the perfect place to hang out on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy a glass of their reds. The vineyard also plays host to many outdoor weddings, and a neighboring farm with Clydesdale horses that can take the happy couple on a carriage ride through the vineyard.

Shelton Vineyards

Gardens at Shelton Vineyards in North Carolina Wine Country
Gardens at Shelton Vineyards in North Carolina’s Wine Country – Photo by: Sherry Jackson

The “granddaddy” of North Carolina vineyards, Shelton is also the largest with more than 400 acres. Brothers Ed and Charlie Shelton not only own and operate the vineyard together but they also both have houses and live on the property. They purchased the winery at auction in 1994 as a retirement project, but have since grown the hobby into a full-time business operation. They harvest grapes by hand, use a windmill to help ward off frost, have a waterfall in the barrel room to maintain the humidity,and plant rose bushes at the end of each vine row to alert them to any possible disease or problem with the grapes (the theory is that the rose bush is more delicate and will be affected first). The property features an inn, two restaurants and several walking paths.

All of Yadkin Valley’s wineries have tasting rooms, and hours are posted online. Most feature special events throughout the year—summer concert series, fall hayrides, and more. For more information, visit

If you go:


Carolina Heritage Vineyard & Winery

Elkin Creek Vineyard

Grassy Creek Vineyard & Winery

McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks

Brushy Mountain Winery



Stony Knoll Vineyards

Old North State Winery

Round Peak Vineyards

Shelton Vineyards




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