When you compare the age of the current vines and wineries in the Tryon Foothills of North Carolina to other wineries in the United States, particularly the wineries in California, these southeast wineries would generally be considered young. If you compare them to other wineries around the world, these wineries in rural North Carolina are considered infants. The current wineries residing in the Tryon Foothills, of which there are four that are active, started cultivating grapes and opening their doors around the beginning of the new millennium and continued opening through 2011. Earlier efforts from wineries that are no longer in business started planting their vines around 1991 making the current wine industry in this area only about 30 years old. As stated earlier, this region is obviously very young compared to the more popular and established regions both domestically and around the world. What most people don’t realize, however, is that the grape history in this region, the Tryon Foothills of Western North Carolina, goes back more than 150 years!
In the early 1900’s, this was the premier region in Eastern America for growing grapes and was well known throughout most of the Eastern United States. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the vineyards in this region started to decline. While there were a few factors that led to that decline, Prohibition played a big part, taking its toll on the local farmers forcing them to turn to safer crops. That would have been the end of the story except the area is having a resurgence in popularity these days, somewhat of a renaissance, while current wineries ride on the shoulders of the pioneers that first recognized the potential of this area for growing great grapes in the mid-1800’s. As the title of this article suggests, these are young wineries with old souls.
Where in the World is Tryon, North Carolina?
While this region has somewhat of a decent history, it is not a region that most people are going to be familiar with; despite the fact that it is the home to an international equestrian center (the Tryon International Equestrian Center) and was the home to the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games. Tryon is a very small town in Polk County, North Carolina with a population of only about 28,000 people for the entire county.
Located in the foothills that are between the mountains to the west and the piedmont to the east, Tryon is conveniently located between the metropolitan areas of Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina and Greenville in South Carolina, making it an easy day trip from any of these locations. It is also only 3.5 hours from the Atlanta area making it perfect for weekend getaways to North Carolina wine country.
Wineries To Visit in North Carolina Near the Tryon Foothills
The four wineries that are currently active and open for visitation in the Tryon Foothills at the time of this writing are the following:
Mountain Brook Vineyards
The first vines at Mountain Brook were planted in 2002 with the winery officially opening in 2012. It was acquired by the current owners in 2018 and has been steadily re-imagining itself since that time with changes and improvements scheduled to continue throughout the next several years. The 75-acre farm consists of multiple areas for visitors to enjoy along with onsite winemaking and barrel room facilities. Mountain Brook has produced a number of estate wines including Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling.
Overmountain is the quintessential “boutique winery.” The winery and vineyard sit on a 70-acre family-run farm with about 18 acres currently under vine. It is a father-daughter winemaking team creating distinctive French-style wines that they serve in their comfortable and inviting tasting room. Overmountain also has onsite winemaking facilities and offers tours of the farm and facilities to visitors. Overmountain produces single variety and blended wines from five varieties of grapes grown on their farm: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Petit Manseng.
Parker-Binns is a multi-generation family-run winery on a 40-acre farm (12 acres under vine) with exceptional views of the surrounding mountains. Their tasting room sits on a high point of the property where you can relax and look out over the vines as you enjoy their estate-grown wines. All wine is made onsite and is supported by 4 generations of family along with staff and friends that help give Parker-Binns its distinct charm. Parker-Binns currently grows Chardonnay, Muscat, Petit Manseng, Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Malbec on their estate producing a number of single variety and blended dry wines in addition to two dessert wines.
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Russian Chapel Hills Winery
Russian Chapel Hills is the smallest winery in the Tryon area but definitely not small in terms of charm. It’s aptly named after the Russian Orthodox Chapel, St. Anna Chapel, which is located on a hill in the middle of the vineyard. It is viewable from the tasting room and can be visited by guests who want to walk through the vines to reach it. A visit to the property is definitely unique and their offering of estate-grown wines completes the experience. Russian Chapel Hills estate wine production includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon along with a semi-sweet Muscadine wine, a traditional Russian style wine (Kagor), and mead.
Visiting the Tryon Wineries
All of the wineries in the Tryon Foothills region are conveniently located in a tight cluster making them perfect for a multi-winery tour during your visit to the area. With the farthest two being only eight miles apart from each other, you will be able to spend more time enjoying the wineries instead of commuting between properties. As stated earlier, the Tryon wineries are all within visiting distance of the Asheville and Charlotte regions of North Carolina as well as the Greenville/Spartanburg region of South Carolina. The vineyards provide the perfect getaway from the hustle of the surrounding bigger cities.
You could also hire a local tour company and let them handle the driving for you. Van in Black is the leading provider of wine tours in the Tryon Foothills of North Carolina area and provides pickup service for the entire Tryon area as well as the larger anchor cities like Asheville, North Carolina and Greenville, South Carolina. Van in Black has multiple vehicle types and can easily accommodate both small and large groups interested in touring the area. Book a guided tour of the region with an experienced guide today.