Unbeknownst to many, the Blue Ridge Mountains actually have an ideal climate for fermenting food and drink items, and the subtropical climate means more cheese, beer and, of course, wine.

Throughout the High Country, several diverse wineries are available for area residents and visitors alike to indulge in, and all serve legitimately great wine.

For example, Grandfather Vineyard won a gold medal for its famed Ice Wine at the 2011 North Carolina State Fair. It also won bronze medals for its Terrace Gold and Profile Red wines.

Along with wine becoming an industry, it’s also becoming a science.

A bachelor of science degree program in fermentation sciences has been developed at Appalachian State University and was approved by the UNC General Administration in June 2012.

Students at Appalachian State University now have the option to pursue a B.S. degree in fermentation sciences, meaning more breweries and wineries may pop up in the future.

The fermentation sciences program is an interdisciplinary degree within the College of Arts and Sciences, and is intended to provide students with a strong background in chemistry and biology and a considerable focus in business, marketing and entrepreneurial principles.

Wineries across the High Country are now preparing for what will be a busy harvest season.

Many wineries will allow people to come and see the product being developed in real time.

According to winemakersacademy.com, red wines should be fermented between 70 and 85 degrees F, with better color and tannin extraction at the higher end of the spectrum.

“In this temperature range, fruity flavors and aromas don’t get preserved, which can be good for a red wine,” said Wine Makers Academy.

On the other hand, white wine fermentation temperatures should be between 45-60 degrees F (7-16 degrees C). These lower temperatures help preserve fruitiness and volatile aromatics, characteristics more in line with a white wine. White wine fermentations take longer.

Whether in Avery County, Laurel Springs or at Watauga Lake, it’s never the wrong time for the right High Country wine.

Banner Elk Winery & Villa

60 Deer Run

Banner Elk

(828) 898-9090

Grandfather Vineyard & Winery

225 Vineyard Lane

Banner Elk

(828) 963-2400

Linville Falls Winery

9557 Linville Falls Hwy.


(828) 765-1400

Plumtree Valley Winery

4716 U.S. Hwy 19E


(828) 765-9696

Thistle Meadow Winery

102 Thistle Meadow

Laurel Springs

(800) 233-1505

Watauga Lake Winery

6952 Big Dry Run Road

Butler, Tenn.

(423) 768-0345

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