Tour the Boone Area Wine Trail—
Savor the Flavor of the
Appalachians' Peak Appellation
The East’s loftiest vineyards will elevate your appreciation of fine wine—and great scenery.
One High Country winery is already winning awards and attracting fine wine aficionados. Add the High Country's two new wineries, and you have a Boone Area Wine Trail with three sophisticated viticultural experiences.
Take this spectacular scenic loop of the High Country to visit the Grandfather Vineyard & Winery in Foscoe, Banner Elk Winery in Banner Elk, and The 1861 Farmhouse Restaurant & Winery in Valle Crucis.
Meet the vintners, tour the wineries, sample the wines—and take home a souvenir glass and a few bottles or more for later. There’s nothing like great wine and memories of the mountains to make a special meal even more so.
Better yet, make Boone Area wineries the focus of a multi-day viticultural visit. Indulge in the Boone Area's world-class cool summer climate and spend a few nights (explore Boone Area lodging). Sample great dining from the Boone Area's long list of gourmet eateries—it's the envy of urban areas far below the Blue Ridge. Along the way, take in some of the High Country's nationally-known attractions or outdoor adventures.
First Leg—The Watauga River Valley
(Uncork our intreractive map at the bottom of the page.)
Start in Boone and follow NC 105 south. When awesome Grandfather Mountain towers above—turn left on Vineyard Lane into Grandfather Vineyard & Winery. Cross the Watauga River on a bridge draped in flourishing grape vines.
Grandfather Vineyard & WineryThe wine processing building and tastefully decorated tasting room sit beside the rushing river, a pristine trout stream that dances down from the towering dark peaks and famous profile face of Grandfather Mountain. That front porch view adorns the labels of the vineyard's seven wines—Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Rose, a wine called “Big Boulder Red,” and a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris named "Terraced Gold." Sip a logo-etched glass of Profile Red (named after the “face” looking down on you) while Grandfather Mountain dodges clouds above.
Steve and Sally Tatum own the winery, and son Dylan is a viticultural graduate of nearby Surry Community College, one of the East’s most highly-regarded winemaking programs. The winery serves as Appalachian State University’s Enological Laboratory.
Unlike many vineyards where vines grow in gentle meadows, these grapes grow clinging to a ledge-laced hillside of rocky terraces above the winery. It’s a dramatic setting that Steve Tatum says the grapes really like. “Grapes don’t like ‘wet feet,’” he says. “Our vineyard’s rocky, steeper soil is the perfect way to give them ample water and permit them to quickly dry out.”
Open—Thursday through Saturday noon to 6 pm and Sunday 1 pm to 5 pm. A flight of tastings costs $5 and comes with a souvenir glass. Tel: 828-963-2400
Second Leg—To Banner Elk
Continue south on NC 105 under Grandfather’s face and turn right on NC 184 at the Eastern Continental Divide (water flowing beyond, through Linville, reaches the Atlantic, and water flowing behind you toward Boone reaches the Mississippi).
Soon Sugar Mountain ski area rises on the left, and a few miles farther, turn right in "downtown" Banner Elk at the only light on NC 194. A mile and a half later, turn left on Gualtney Road to Banner Elk Winery.
Banner Elk Winery and Inn
At Banner Elk Winery & Inn, relax on the expansive tasting room porch overlooking the boulder-bordered pond and raise your eyes—and wine glasses—to the ski lift-studded peak of Beech Mountain, the East’s highest ski area. The winery’s loftiest vineyards—the highest in Watauga County, the High Country, and the Eastern United States—are also high above on Beech.
Dr. Richard Wolfe, co-owner of the winery and former enological researcher at Appalachian State University, has studied high elevation viticulture elsewhere in the world and maintains that the climate of the Boone Area is “the equal of the great viticultural locations in Europe.”
The winery’s expansive tasting room flanks the Inn. Vineyards surround the tasting room, and so does a longtime blueberry farm—a High Country favorite when the Northern fruit ripens in late-July and early-August.
Open—Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 6 pm. Tel: 828-260-1790. Tastings cost $6 and feature six wines. A souvenir glass costs an additional $10.
Third Leg—To Valle Crucis
From the Banner Elk Winery, turn left on NC 194, and take a winding, descending, North Carolina Scenic Byway into the picturesque heart of Watauga County, the rural, yet refined, Vermont-like vale of Valle Crucis. At the stop sign, turn left then left again just before the Mast General Store.
1861 Farmhouse Restaurant & Winery
Charles Kuralt said the Mast General Store, built in 1882, is the nation’s classic country store. Just across the road, The 1861 Farmhouse Restaurant & Winery is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic heart of the home, a brick structure that now serves as wine-tasting rooms, dates to 1855—twenty-seven years before the Mast Store. The house was here in 1865 when “Stoneman’s Raid,” among the last actions of the Civil War, marched through these mountains.
Steve and Alison Garrett spent two years completely restoring the farmhouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, before opening it as a restaurant and winery. The atmosphere at the 1861 is unique and ranges from the "Old World" brick wine room to fireside tables in Victorian dining rooms, to al fresco dining on the front porch with beautiful valley views. A talented chef team serves up "Nouveau Southern Gourmet" meals at lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. The 1861 Winery is located in the property's historic barn. The Garretts operate the small boutique winery which has accumulated impressive awards including two silver medals, two double-golds, and one Best in Category at the North Carolina State Fair among others. For more info call 828-963-6301 or visit 1861Farmhouse.com
Summer/Fall Schedule (May 1st - Nov. 3rd):
Lunch: Monday-Saturday 11:30am - 2:30pm.
Dinner: Wednesday through Saturday Evenings.
Sunday Brunch: 11:30am-2:30pm.
Wine Tastings are available daily: Monday - Saturday from 11:30 to 6pm, and Sunday from 12 - 3:00.
Winter/Spring Schedule (November - April)
Lunch: Thursday - Saturday 11:30 am to 2:30 pm.
Dinner: Thursday, Friday, & Saturday 5:30 - 8:00 pm
Sunday Brunch: 11:30-2:30
Wine Tastings are available all day Thursday - Saturday from 11:30 to 6pm, and Sunday from 12 - 3:00The 1861 Farmhouse Restaurant and Winery is located at 3608 Broadstone Road, Valle Crucis, Across from The Original Mast General Store (Google Maps: Use 3608 Broadstone Road, SUGAR GROVE, NC)
Valle Crucis is a perfect place to pause on a wine tour. There are B&B’s and cabins to check into. Or head back to Boone, a great place to start and end a viticultural tour of the High Country.
Uncork our Interactive Map!
Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus/minus signs and directional arrows at upper left), or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols. You can literally dive down to see the parking lots and landmarks for the Boone Area Wine Trail. Click any map symbol and information balloons pop up. In the parking are map balloons, click "Directions," add your address or location, and step-by-step directions will guide you to the winery or other location from wherever you are! This satellite map permits "Map view" or "Terrain view" should you wish.
View Boone Area Wine Trail in a larger map