Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rock of Ages Winery- Hurdle Mills, NC

A few months ago I dragged RNH and Skinny on a winery adventure. It was Skinny's first time going to a winery, I wanted to learn, and I enticed RNH into going with a Durham Bulls game at the end of the trip (actually he really enjoys the wineries too, but he's a guy, so ya know...!) We took off from our home and drove about 30 minutes North of Durham to Hurdle Mills, North Carolina. A very cute and tiny town with a post office, butcher shop, hardware store and stop sign. Yup, that's pretty much it. Oh, and Rock of Ages Winery!!!

The drive up to the winery is very breath-taking. Rows upon rows of grapes surround a magnificent, grand building made with quite a bit of stonework. They describe the "lodge" as having Old English style with hints of Italian and Western architecture. Either way, its beautiful! Walking into the lodge you can tell that every minuet detail has been looked after. The doors to the building look as if they were from an old oak barrel and the wrought iron handles on the doors and windows have grapes and grape leaves set into the iron work.

Skinny being totally fabulous in front of the winery. Check out the beautiful stone work!

We were greeted by an older lady, the mother-in-law of Kevin Moore- the owner. She was very friendly and told us some background on the winery. Her son-in-law, Kevin had graduated from NC State University (GO PACK!) with a degree in Economics. After graduating he invested in other business opportunities and then settled by opening Hard Rock Marble & Tile in Hillsborough, North Carolina. He continues to operate that business with his wife Kim, and wine-making has become his hobby. Yes, the guy who created this ginormous building- oh, its just his hobby. Humph.
Me & Skinny at the wine bar for a tasting. Check out the beautiful mural of the vineyard against the rear wall, and gold plated ceiling!!!

After having a good time at my first (grown up) wine tasting experience at the Silver Coast Winery, I decided I would be upfront with the wine hostess and tell her that we are all "new" to this and would like to learn a lot. Unfortunately, so was she. She really couldn't tell me anything that I didn't already know, which isn't much! I was pretty disappointed in this because Rock of Ages is a winery that concentrates on growing and producing wine made from muscadines. I thought for sure I'd learn a lot here. Nope. Bless her heart, she was very sweet. I would ask her a question and she'd say "Now that's a good question! I'll have to ask Kevin someday..." Sheesh. The other problem I had is that she barely poured us any wine! I could barely even get a sip to taste! I feel like a good "tasting" of wine should at least give you 2 or 3 small sips so you can really study the flavors. Nope. Not here. (I also learned that the pours given to us at Silver Coast Winery- like 1/2 a glass!!!!- are not common. I think that guy just wanted us to get D-RUNK!) But not being able to really taste the wine kind of annoyed me.

A very neat thing about this tasting is that we were able to experience the wine-maker's progression. He had a bottle of Semi-Sweet Muscadine, a blush, that he was "phasing out" to make room for the new Bushy Fork Red- also a muscadine blush. Basically he started off with this semi-sweet blush. It was very thick and syrup-tasting. He was phasing out for the new and improved blush, that wasn't near as syrupy and absolutely delish! RNH bought a bottle of the NC State Fair Silver-winner, to enjoy at home. It was really neat to see the beginning efforts of this man's hobby, and how he was beginning to progress and become better at the trade.

Another really delicious wine that is a must-have is their Cork and Pork. It is a wine specifically created for the consumption of pork. It fits so incredibly well with vinegar-style BBQ, its crazy! They also pride themselves in a BBQ sauce, also called Cork & Pork. The vineyard has a festival every year in May that is full of Cork (wine), Pork, Music and fun! I really hope we can go next year. The combination of the wine they've come up with, the BBQ sauce, and pulled pork... nom nom nom!!!

The wine tasting included 8 wines and a souvenir glass. The vineyard also does whites and reds, however you can only pick one "leg" to try (I think!).

After the tasting, we bought a glass of our favorite and joined the sweet wine hostess for a tour. The tour was really just her showing us where the stainless steel tanks were. It was a large room towards the back of the building. We were also able to see the bottling machine and oak barrels. Nothing was in operation that day. She kept suggesting that we return on a weekend day (this was a Monday!) to see the winery in its full glory. She stated Kevin and his wife would be there and able to answer more questions and the winery is usually more busy and sometimes you can catch them bottling the wines. I think we'd like to go back on a weekend.
A fun note about this vineyard- the wines are named after areas surrounding the vineyard. Driving to and from you'll notice "Bushy Fork Rd, Flat River Rd, and Red Mountain Rd," all which the owner named the wines after!

After taking the quick tour we headed out to the vineyards, leaving the wine hostess inside. Skinny and I took a ton of fun photos, thanks to RNH. In one picture, Skinny is actually squeezing a grape into her wine glass. Pretty funny stuff! It was beautiful outside (although blazing hot!) and we really enjoyed sitting on the deck out front over looking the vineyards. It was peaceful and perfect!
Fun photo shoot!
Cheers to drinking in the vineyards!!!
Skinny making herself some wine!

I enjoyed my time at Rock of Ages and would love to go back, especially for a festival. I highly recommend this vineyard! (It is also the closest vineyard to my house!)

Tonight I'm enjoying reminiscing on the vineyard and having a glass of their Flat River White. I purchased the bottle at the vineyard for $11.95. The vineyard is not producing commercially in stores yet. The sweet wine has a wonderful bouquet. There is nothing tart to it. It has a smooth start and finish with no bite. I think this wine will continue to improve as Kevin continues in his wine-making endeavors. I feel that most of the wines he produces have a bit of a syrup-ness to them that major vineyards do not. It is still very delicious and I can't wait to return!

1 comment:

  1. Yayyyyyyy, I was waiting for a recap of our adventures.