Winter and the holiday season are about to get a little bit more spirited in the High Country.
While long spells sitting alongside a roaring fire with hot chocolate and steamy apple cider have become a favorite pastime of many during the colder months in the mountains, new regional offerings are making the rounds, thanks to a burgeoning wine industry.
But how is this possible?
How can these naturally fortified beverages, which begin as locally grown grapes, possibly be sustained and cultivated in an area world renowned for its Fraser fir Christmas trees?
Well, what was previously thought of as being impossible is becoming a new reality in the High Country.
These hillside wineries have both the mettle and metal to prove it, too.
Several local vineyards have brought home silver and gold medals at the state level.
Take Grandfather Vineyard and Winery, for instance.
Grandfather Vineyard and Winery
At the 2011 North Carolina State Fair, Grandfather Vineyard and Winery won a gold medal for its Ice Wince and bronze medals for its Terrace Gold and Profile Red wines.
Starting Dec. 1, the hours at the Grandfather winery will change. The vineyard will be close Tuesdays and open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
These new hours will remain in place until May 15.
Dry tasting is $8 per person and $6 per person for sweet tasting.
Grandfather has just released its Watauga River White, which is similar in sweetness to a moscato.
Additional new wines will be coming out in January and February, which coincides with Grandfather’s next bottling period.
The winery is also preparing to premier new labels this winter. It has used the same original labels since opening in 2011.
Banner Elk Winery
A short distance up the road from the Grandfather winery is the Banner Elk Winery, which debuted in 2006.
According to the winery’s website, this venue also produces prize winning grapes into award winning wines.
The winery has brought home several national and international medals, including a gold medal from the 2012 NextGen Wine Competition in California and the N.C. State Fair.
Banner Elk Winery & Villa
60 Deer Run
Banner Elk, NC. 28604
225 Vineyard Lane
Banner Elk, N.C. 28604
Linville Falls Winery
9557 Linville Falls Highway
Newland, N.C. 28657
Plumtree Valley Winery
4716 U.S. Hwy 19E
Plumtree, N.C. 28664
Watauga Lake Winery
6952 Big Dry Run Road
Butler, Tenn. 37640