Monday, August 13, 2018

JOLO Winery & Vineyards: North Carolina Winery Visit

What could be finer than the stirring sight of North Carolina’s landmark Pilot Mountain? How about a superb winery just a few miles away.

Setting A High Standard

Before we left Ohio to relocate to North Carolina, we had dinner with friends who served a bottle of wine from our new home state. It was a bottle of Pilot Fog from JOLO winery. It was a delightful treat and when headed back north on a recent trip, we made sure to stop at JOLO along the way.

Many North Carolina wineries are blessed with spectacular mountain views. JOLO can boast a scenic view of Pilot Mountain to go with its wonderfully crafted winery and grounds.

We’ve had unique experiences over the years as we’ve visited more than 200 wineries. In some cases, the tasting room was some spare room in a barn where we were offered wine in plastic cups. Yadkin Valley’s JOLO is the opposite end of the spectrum – everything is first class all the way. The grounds of the estate are manicured and the tasting room would not be out of place in some of the top wine regions in the country.

The JOLO Tasting Experience

Before enjoying our tasting, we got a tour of the production area which also features a barrel-room tasting area. The use of local custom woodwork and a great sense of design makes the winery a decidedly upscale experience. You can even stay overnight at the Newlywed Chateau, a cozy bungalow-style building a few steps from the tasting room.

The 80-acre property features a lake, flower gardens, marked trails and a bocce court. JOLO also boasts a great restaurant, Endposts. It has an outstanding view and an interesting menu that includes Chicken Lombata Salad, Soft Pork Tacos and Gouda Mac & Cheese Arancinis. We moved back into main room of the “tasting lodge” for our tasting.

Tastings cost $15 for seven wines. For an extra $5 you can take home a very large JOLO Riedel glass that can hold a bottle and a half of wine. (That way you can say you’re only have one glass of wine!)

JOLO does a great job not only with the traditional Bordeaux varieties, but also the French hybrid grapes that really do well in North Carolina. For example, the JOLO Twinkles, a lightly sparkling wine, has Chambourcin and Viognier.

The JOLO Beach Bubbles, another sparkler, is made with Traminette. It starts sweet with floral notes and tropical fruit.

The 2017 harvest is said to best the best at JOLO since the winery began in 2012. We were anxious to try the well-regarded Golden Hallows White. This is a dry white made with Vidal Blanc and Traminette. This light and crisp wine is delicious with notes of pineapple and pear. It retails for $25. We also tried the Golden Hallows Reserve (Lot 2) which is aged briefly in new American oak. This would be a spot-on wine for fans of oaky Chardonnay, but we preferred less oak in our whites.
With a rinse of the glass and a mental reset, we were ready to try the reds.

Rise Of The Reds

Crimson Creek is a light bodied wine made with Chambourcin. We’re fans of this French hybrid that was also popular in our former home state of Ohio. The tannins are nice and soft with notes of raspberry and herbs. The body is on par with Pinot Noir, so it is ideal for those who like reds, but not heavy-handed tannins. A nice value at $27.

JOLOTAGE is a Bordeaux blend with a twist. It features Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot – all Bordeaux varieties – as well as Chambourcin. It is a graceful wine with a medium to medium-plus body. The tannins are silky. There are nice layers of red fruit. It is aged in French and American oak and has spice and cedar flavor notes.  A great deal of care is spent picking the best lots and wines for blending and the results show. It is priced at $31.

Our most favored wine was Pilot Fog. This is made with Cynthiana, which is another name for the Norton grape. Cynthiana makes a deep, full-bodied wine. JOLO’s Pilot Fog is considered the most highly acclaimed wine in Yadkin Valley with a slew of medals to back up the claim. We were able to sample the 2017 vintage, but were brought down to earth when told that the wine is on allocation. It is only available to JOLO wine club members and they can only buy one bottle per visit. Needless to say, we savored every drop of this wine (which isn’t on the regular tasting menu). It’s a complex and substantial wine that would go great with lamb.

We wrapped up with a tasting of the JOLO Sangria and the Happy Endings Late Harvest Traminette. A sweet conclusion to our tasting!

JOLO is a not-to-be-missed winery with standout wines. Be sure to visit on your next trip to Yadkin Valley.

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