The High Country has long been known for spectacular views and lively mountain culture, but has just recently began gaining recognition for award winning wineries. Touring the High Country Wine Trail is a great way to spend a day or weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains exploring the new cultivation of wines.
Start your tour at Banner Elk Winery and Villa, featuring the highest vineyards in the Eastern United States, the elevation here is equal to those of the great viticultural locations in Europe. In 2006, Banner Elk Winery became the first commercial winery in the High Country and is also the most acclaimed. Wine tastings are available year round, Tuesday through Sunday. Try a glass while taking in the view from the expansive tasting room and veranda. Be sure to try the two gold medal winning wines from the 2013 International Eastern Wine Competition: the 2011 Banner Elk Red and the 2011 Marechal Foch.
Your next stop is Grandfather Vineyard and Winery, the first producing winery of the High Country. Nestled beside the Watauga River, the warm daytime breezes and cool mountain nights create a nice balanced flavor. Tastings are available year round, but days and hours change seasonally.
The final stop on the tour is the 1861 Farmhouse and Winery located in Valle Crucis. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 1861 Farmhouse operates a small boutique winery that features several award winning wines. The Farmhouse also features a restaurant that serves “Nouveau Southern Gourmet” meals in a Victorian dining room or on the front porch with beautiful valley views.