Monday, May 24, 2021

Elkin Creek Vineyard And Winery: A North Carolina Winery Visit

Located at the site of a 19th-century grist mill, Elkin Creek Vineyard continues to make history.

A Watery Beginning

I had a feeling we were going to love Elkin Creek Vineyard. We had started our day in North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley wine country with a hike to Carter Falls. The scenic falls on Elkin Creek are a great hiking and photo destination, so we decided to set out even though the rain was beginning to fall. We were glad to end our hike as the rain started to pick up. I glanced at my watch and noticed it was “wine o’clock.”

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Elkin Creek Vineyard is just a short drive from the trailhead and we made it there just as the sky opened up. When we visited the main tasting room was closed, but there was plenty of room on the covered patio. (The tasting room has since reopened, check the Elkin Creek website for details.) The location suited us fine as our dog was along on this trip and she could lounge comfortably while we sipped wine.

Safe from the rain we began a tasting flight as droplets pattered around us. The location of the winery is wonderful and given a nice day we would have loved to explore the grounds, right on the rushing Elkin Creek, which is a tributary of the Yadkin River.

Mark Greene established the winery/restaurant in 2001 after buying the century-old mill. Since 2011 the winery has been owned and operated by Nick and Jennifer White and Louis and Carrie Jeroslow. Louis is the winemaker.

From Blue Man To Red Wine

The two couples met while working on the production crew of Blue Man Group in Las Vegas. I gathered this nugget of information from Carrie who introduced herself and gave us some background on the winery and wines. This, I thought, was wonderful. I had the pleasure of seeing BMG at the Luxor in Vegas following a training program. It was one of the most creative, madcap evenings of entertainment I’ve ever had.

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To take that overflowing creativity and channel it into wines, now that would be something special. According to Carrie, it often requires hard, non-stop work, but we found the end results to be worth it. With that prologue, we were ready to taste some wine.

The flight began with the 2019 Chardonnay. This wine is aged in stainless steel for a Chablis-style taste. The profile is green apple and citrus. The Elkin Creek estate vineyards are planted to Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. For wines like this where the grapes aren’t grown on property, they are sourced from other growers in Yadkin Valley. Retail is $20.

The 2019 Soft White was a surprise. It is 100% Niagara, which is a labrusca grape. Sometimes these grapes can taste “foxy.” My wife found this to be delicious with just the right touch of fruitiness.

The name of the next wine lowers your expectations, but you’re in for a pleasant surprise after your first sip. Adequate Red is a non-vintage blend of primarily Merlot and Syrah. It’s a winemaker blend that varies from year to year. This has just the right blend of fruit and spice flavors. At $18 a bottle, it is suggested you purchase several.

From Dornfelder To Vin Doux

The 2017 Dornfelder was my favorite of the visit. Dornfelder is a German grape used to make everyday reds, sometimes with a bit of sweetness. This is a wine to savor now, rather than put in your cellar and age. There are notes of cooked fruit and nutmeg to go with a silky body. I purchased a bottle and a few days later, the bottle was opened on our patio and our guests raved about every last drop. A bargain at $20.

Carrie calls the 2018 Rossa the “taste of Yadkin.” It’s a Bordeaux-style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot which is aged in French Oak. Rossa is named for the area’s “terra rossa,” a red clay soil that is similar to that found in Tuscany. The combination of sandy soil and terra rossa allows the ground to maintain just the right amount of water for growing wine grapes.

Rossa can be considered the winery’s flagship red. The focus is on cherry and raspberry riding on soft tannins with a vanilla accent. This is a standout wine at $22.

The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon also gets aging in French barrels. We give the nod to the Rossa blend over the Cab, which doesn’t quite achieve the depth of flavor we like in our Cabs.

Our friend Arthur goes ga-ga over the Vin Doux wine produced by Elkin Creek. The wine (we had the 2015 vintage) is aged for three years in French oak. It’s a port-style wine with flavors of dried, dark fruit and ample sweetness. It’s fortified with brandy and has an ABV of 18%. The cost is $24.

The wines we had were excellent, but there is more to the story. Elkin Creek is famed for their made-to-order brick-oven pizza, which it serves every Sunday. The winery is also known as a top wedding and celebration destination. Elkin Creek has four rustic cabins which feature all the modern amenities in an idyllic woodland setting.

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