Poinsettia and Wine tour a taste of agritourism

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 29, 2015

By Amy-Lynn Albertson
Rowan Cooperative Extension

On Nov. 17, the Rowan Chamber of Commerce sponsored a Poinsettia and Wine Tour. Our first stop was Rockwell Farms, a greenhouse operation that produces bedding plants, hanging baskets and other flowers for the spring, mums and poinsettias in the fall.

This time of year is the slow time for this 23-acre operation. The poinsettia crop only takes up about one-third to one-half of the total greenhouse space. Director of Growing Operations Mima Stoeva took the group on a tour explaining the mechanization of the greenhouses.

The heat at Rockwell is in the floor so all of the plants are on the poured concrete floors. The watering system is automated and programmed to water the plants and give them fertilizer at regular intervals. As the poinsettia plants grow, they need more space.

Rockwell uses robots to move the plants. The robots are programmed to space the plants at specific distances and can work 20-24 hours per day. This saves Rockwell Farms a lot of money on labor.

Rockwell Farms subcontracts for Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville. Their poinsettia plants are usually sold at grocery store chains like Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Lowes Foods.

Our next stop was Morgan Ridge Vineyards in Gold Hill. Owner and head grower Amie Baudoin led the tour, showcasing the brewhouse where they produce their own beer, and the gorgeous pavilion and bridal suite for weddings and events.

A great lunch was provided by Chef Jason Nain, and many of the group tasted the award-winning wines of Morgan Ridge. Morgan Ridge celebrated its fifth anniversary Nov. 21. Check out www.morganridgevineyard.com for more information.

After lunch, we headed to Patterson Farms in China Grove. Patterson has a much smaller poinsettia production greenhouse than Rockwell, but specializes in unique varieties of poinsettia. The burgundy colored bracts and the double flower Winter Rose got lots of oohs and ahhs.

Patterson Farms produces poinsettias for the public and for church/school fundraisers. They also have fruit baskets for your holiday needs.

Our final destination for the day was Cauble Creek Vineyard off N.C 150. Cauble Creek Vineyard is a muscadine grape vineyard and winery. Owner and grower Biff Yost greeted the group and explained some of nutritional facts about muscadines and how they differ from the European wine grapes that are grown at Morgan Ridge.

Cauble Creek has muscadine grape juice as well as award-winning wines. They are working with a dermatologist to produce a muscadine hand lotion. Muscadines are very high in antioxidants and fiber. In addition to muscadines, the Caubles also farm soybeans and corn and were in the process of harvesting during our visit.

We arrived back at the Extension Office with full bellies and heads full of new information. For more information about the tour stops,you can visit their websites: Rockwell Farms www.rockwellfarms.com, Patterson Farms: www.pattersonfarmsinc.com, and Cauble Creek Vineyard: www.caublecreekvineyard.com.

The chamber hopes to sponsor more of these agriculture Initiative tours in the future. Please contact them if you are interested in participating in future tours or being a tour stop at www.rowanchamber.com.