Our winter’s focus on interior spaces has given our living room a fresh, inviting look and the increasing warmth and sunlight pulls our attention to the avid green growth on tips of twigs and in the garden. Hmmm, we saw that after the 20 inch snowfall covered other vegetation, the deer had a field day munching on the edges of our cypress trees around our pergola. However, the eager growth of warming days seems to be overcoming this setback! We survey the grounds to see what is blooming and what needs to be thinned or moved to more prosperous spots. The hollies we planted last spring have grown a foot since last year, and the four hydrangeas we transplanted from our home in Charlotte are thriving. One hydrangea given to us by a neighbor was severely damaged by roofers in the fall, but we are delighted to see that it is recovering in step with the rising temperature.
Every step outside the door shows me new evidence of spring renewal. Vinca enthusiastically covers new ground with shiny green leaves and gently swirled periwinkle petals. The flower boxes are showing hints of the perennials we planted last year, and I made space with my trowel for the bold pink tulip left by one of our TSOP guests. Kylie noticed the pink on our TSOP logo and on our signature RND candles and left us this thank you for her recent stay. I planted the tulip in the flower box in hopes that next spring Kylie’s tulip will bloom for her next visit.
After planning, digging, and planting in our terraced hillside garden, we opened the windows and drove up the mountain to breathe the crisp air of the High Country Wine Region and taste its fruits.
Wandering a baker’s dozen of miles to Deer Run Lane, we came to Banner Elk Winery, eager to tour their Tuscan-inspired Villa, vineyards, and blueberry orchard. As we ambled past the unfurling vines and budding blueberry bushes, the mountains stacked about on all sides drew our eyes to their grandeur and lifted our hopes toward a season of growth. Bocci ball, hikes, and a fire pit invites visitors to relax and rejuvenate. Our senses filled and soothed, we capped our visit with a glass of delicious Blueberry Ice wine paired with a cheese and nut tray. A taste of their robust Cabernet Sauvignon and velvety Marechal Foch Reserve is penciled in for our next excursion up the mountain!
A welcome respite from renovation decisions and fingers steeped in garden dirt, Grandfather Vineyard is one of my favorite refreshment jaunts, just 5 minutes from This Side of Paris. I love to linger over a glass of their 58° Fusion wine on the veranda overlooking the Watauga River. This wine is named after the 58 degree slope of the vineyard on the southwest face of Grandfather Mountain, and is a complex blend of red wines that soothes and satisfies. Families and dogs are welcome to come with picnic baskets. When the river is low, children can often be seen laughing and throwing pebbles into the water. This inviting place and their variety of tasting packages makes us glad again and again to be near neighbors.
In our adventures through the western mountains we look forward to visiting more mountain vineyards, wineries, and event venues. Linville Falls Winery in Newland, NC is run by Jack Wiseman who returned to North Carolina after spending his post-Korean War years in Napa Valley wine country. He bought a former dairy farm near Linville Falls and built a Christmas tree business, which provided the capital to fulfill his vineyard dreams. He and his grandchildren now run this vineyard, winery and event venue, featuring a full schedule of live music events beginning in late April. They offer both dry and semi-dry wines as well as some dessert wines, and their Friday tasting events are known to be crowded by a variety of enthusiasts.
Villa Nove Vineyards and Watauga Lake Winery are neighboring vineyards just over two miles apart near Butler, Tennessee. Villa Nove is a farm winery producing all six of its estate wines from its own vineyards. They are open from May through October with regular Sangria Saturdays featuring wood-fired pizza, and Sunday picnics in the vineyards with deli baskets available to enjoy with their wines.
Watauga Lake Winery produces a variety of award-winning wines and also hosts regular weekend events, often partnering with Villa Nove. Watauga’s dry reds include Copperhead Hollow, a cozy blend of Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, and Chancellor grapes. Two more popular dry reds are Big Dry Run, a bold fruity blend, and Doe Mountain Reserve, with a complex current, blackberry, and peppery profile born of late-harvest Norton grapes. Watauga also produces dry whites, blushes, and dessert wines. There is so much to look forward to in the coming months!
Respectfully, our Airbnb Plus listing invites travelers to “Go on a Wine Tour” at This Side of Paris. Our picnic basket is waiting to be carried on a stroll to one of the many beautiful vineyards around this side of the mountains. We encourage our travelers to take part of the High Country Wine Trail and follow the map for a fun day of exploring the many vineyards around TSOP.