Rowan wineries showcased

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 18, 2011

By Scott Jenkins
Local wineries are inviting vino lovers out this weekend for the first Rowan County Wine Tour.
And they hope to expand the attraction with a three-county “wine trail” or even a nationally recognized wine grape-growing region.
This weekend’s tour, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, includes Rowan’s three wineries: Morgan Ridge Vineyards, Cauble Creek Vineyard and Old Stone Winery.
Amie Baudoin, who owns Morgan Ridge in Gold Hill with husband, Tommy, said the idea for the tour arose after Gov. Bev Perdue came to Rowan in January to recognize Cauble Creek as the state’s 100th winery.
“We thought it would be a good way to introduce all three wineries here in Rowan County,” said Baudoin, whose Morgan Ridge is the newest of the trio, opening in November.
The tour takes place during the wineries’ normal business hours. For Morgan Ridge and Old Stone Winery, that’s 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday; and Cauble Creek’s hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday.
Morgan Ridge is about 22 miles from Cauble Creek and Old Stone sits between the two.
The tour is free, and anyone who visits all three wineries over the weekend will get a free commemorative T-shirt, Baudoin said. Visitors will pay to take part in wine tastings, she said.
Baudoin said teaming up for the tour is a natural extension of the relationship among the wineries, who view each other not as competitors but partners in the burgeoning North Carolina wine industry.
“We’ve all been working in this industry side-by-side. … We’re here to support one another,” Baudoin said. “When someone comes here, if they’re going north, I send them to Old Stone and then to Cauble Creek, and vice-versa.
“We want to create our own little wine trail here in Rowan County,” she said.
They’re not stopping at the Rowan County line. Baudoin said local vintners recently met with counterparts in Cabarrus and Stanly counties, as well as tourism officials, to discuss creating a regional wine trail and pursuing a status similar to the Yadkin Valley.
Probably the state’s best-known wine-producing region, the Yadkin Valley got a boost in 2003 when the federal government designated it an american viticultural area, which allows wineries to indicate on their labels that the wine came from a specific grape-growing region.
Those areas are defined by distinct geographic features, and a local region would be linked to the Uwharrie Mountains, Baudoin said. Only four of the eight current wineries in the three counties — Morgan Ridge in Rowan, Stony Mountain and Uwharrie vineyards in Stanly, and Rocky River Vineyards in Cabarrus — are close enough to the mountains for inclusion in such a region, Baudoin said, but the others would still benefit from it.
Baudoin said the designation takes about two years to get and is not easy to achieve.
“It’s all in the planning stages right now,” she said. “I know there are a lot of particulars you have to go through.”