Banner Elk Winery is situated close to downtown in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains. Founded in 2006, it was the first commercial winery in Avery and Watauga counties.
Winemaker Dick Wolfe makes a variety of wines from grapes grown on property and sourced from other local vineyards. The Marechal Foch is made from French-American hybrid grapes that produce a red wine with intense flavors and color. Banner Elk Red, a winemaker’s choice blend of Marechal Foch, sangiovese and merlot, has won a gold medal at the International Eastern Wine Competition in Sonoma, California, and was named the best red hybrid at the North Carolina State Fair in 2011.
Banner Elk Winery produces two unusual specialty wines. Its blueberry wine pays tribute to the property’s historic blueberry farm, and is produced from fruit grown on bushes that remain. The ice wine is a rare spirit made from high-elevation grapes left on the vine until the first freeze. These frozen grapes are harvested and pressed while still partially frozen. The result is an intense, highly flavorful wine.
Overall, the vineyard produces nine wines on an annual basis: four reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Marechal Foch, Banner Elk Red, High Country Rosé), three whites (Banner Elk White, Seyval Blanc, Vino Francesco Chianti White) and two dessert wines.
Private tastings for parties of 10 or more are available with advance notice of at least a week. There is also a luxury villa on property that can accommodate corporate meetings and retreats, weddings and private functions.
The winery is open for tastings every Tuesday through Sunday. Tours are available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday from May through October.
More information is available at 828-898-9090 or www.bannerelkwinery.com.
Beech Mountain Brewing Company is owned and operated by Beech Mountain Resort, making it one of a few craft breweries in the nation to be located at a ski resort. It is open to the public during ski season and also during summer months. Patrons are not required to have a ski pass to visit the brewery.
The brewery produces small batches on-site in the Alpine Village at the base of the slopes. The flagship beer is the 5,506’ Pale Ale, named after Beech Mountain’s signature elevation. Other popular brews include the Beech IPA and the Patroller Porter.
Seasonal selections vary, and include such offerings as the Beech Blonde, Session Belge, One-Eye PA and Ramble-on Rye.
The interior of the brewery has a mountain lodge motif with hardwood floors, stone fireplace and wooden accents. The exterior features a large deck that overlooks the village commons. Live music is provided on occasion.
More information is available at (800) 438-2093, ext 291, or by clicking here
Blind Squirrel Brewery is located on the Toe River in the small rural community of Plumtree, about 30 minutes from Banner Elk.
The brewery combines craft beer, beautiful scenery, outdoor games and a rotation of food trucks. It is open three days a week (Friday-Sunday) from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Because of its seasonal operations schedule, Blind Squirrel brews 20-gallon batches and releases 1-2 varieties of fresh beer each Friday. The brewery also has 4-5 beers on tap from other local breweries, along with a variety of packaged beer and cider.
The location on the North Toe River offers locals and travelers the opportunity to kick back and take in the beautiful environment of a high altitude river valley. Visitors can take a relaxing float from upstream on a tubing excursion, camp at the farm retreat property located a mile away, or just have a lazy day on the river decks while enjoying cold beverages and food truck offerings. Guests are welcome to bring a picnic.
The facility began life in 1919 as a general store. The Young family converted it to the Toe River Lodge, which then evolved into Blind Squirrel Brewery. The nano-brewery opened in 2012.
More information is available at 828-765-9696 or www.blindsquirrelbrewery.com.
Flat Top Mountain Brewery creates high quality craft beer on Main Street East in Banner Elk. The brewery takes its name from nearby Flat Top Mountain.
The brewery typically has 8-10 styles of beers available in the taproom. There are four year-round flagship offerings: Rollcast Kolsch, Top Coast IPA, Profile American Pale Ale and Big Falls Nutty Brown Ale. Those four are complemented by a rotating variety of seasonal beers and experimental small batches.
Flat Top beers are named local landmarks and activities. For example, the Profile American Pale Ale is named for the Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain, while the Rollcast Kolsch derives its name from the roll-casting technique of fly fishing. The Top Coast IPA refers to the NC High Country itself, where clean and pure mountain spring water is a key for high-quality beers.
Beer is available in pints, flights and take-home growlers. Flat Top also has a variety of non-alcoholic soft drink options and simple snacks for munching, or patrons are welcome to bring their own food. Flat Top is a family-friendly brewery offering such activities as: arcade games, board games, darts, corn hole and occasional live music.
The brewery distributes its flagship beers to restaurants and pubs around Banner Elk, as well as other establishments in the High Country and even some that are “off the mountain.”
More information is available at 828-898-8677 or www.flattopbrew.com.
Grandfather Vineyard and Winery produces a variety of wines in relaxing setting beside the Watauga River near the base of Grandfather Mountain. In fact, the property has a frame-worthy view of the profile that gives the peak its name.
The business is a family affair. Steve and Sally Tatum — who opened Tatum Galleries furniture in Banner Elk in 1978 — planted their first grapes in 2003. They completed the winery in 2011. Their son Dylan is the winemaker. He graduated from Surry Community College in Dobson with a degree in viticulture and enology. The vineyard grows vitis vinifera grapes, which thrive on the terraced land with warm days and cool nights.
Dry wines include: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Rosé, Syrah, Pinot Noir and selected red and white blends. For those who enjoy sweeter wines, the winery has Moscato and Sunset Rosé made from North Carolina’s native muscadine grapes. When the weather allows, the winery produces ice wine, made from grapes that freeze on the vine. Grandfather also makes a hard cider that combines heirloom apples and Asian pears. After fermentation, the cider is dry hopped, a process often used in brewing beer.
The tasting room offers sampling flights. Visitors can purchase a glass or a bottle to enjoy inside or out on the patio. Adirondack chairs line the Watauga River that runs alongside the property. The winery doesn’t serve food, but guests are welcome to bring their own. Several spots are ideal for picnics. Vineyard events include plein air painting, live music and trivia nights. Grandfather also welcomes weddings, parties and corporate events.
More information is available at 828-963-2400 or www.grandfathervineyard.com.
Minutes from its namesake waterfall (and the Blue Ridge Parkway), Linville Falls Winery rests on a 40-acre farm. The Tuscan-style tasting room is surrounded by grape vines and fields of Christmas trees.
The vineyard is located at 3,200 feet in elevation, blending warm days with cool nights. The elevation, climate and soil composition create ideal grape-growing conditions for owner Jack Wiseman, who operates Linville Falls Winery with his family.
The winery produces both sweet and dry wines, with Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon as the signature varietals. The cabernet sauvignon is aged in American and French oak for two years, creating the deep, bold flavor that red-wine drinkers enjoy. Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp, dry white with notes of citrus. On the sweeter side, the Rosé is light and fruity and the Trillium has a sweetness reminiscent of mountain honey. The off-dry Riesling strikes middle ground, while Linville Falls also makes a blueberry wine with local berries and cherry bounce, a fortified blend of sour cherries and apple brandy.
The winery has plenty of space to sit and enjoy a glass or two with tables in the tasting room, a large covered patio and additional tables with umbrellas out in the open. Wine tastings take place daily, and local cheeses are available for pairings. The winery hosts a variety of live music, including bluegrass, jazz and swing. Food trucks occasionally make an appearance, too.
Linville Falls Winery can accommodate weddings, parties and corporate events, and keep in mind that it’s an ideal place to choose your Christmas tree each holiday season. Take a hayride through the Christmas tree fields, select a favorite, and a staff member will cut it, bale it and load it on your car for the ride home.
More information is available at 828-765-1400 or www.linvillefallswinery.com.