A vacation, or staycation, in the Great Smoky Mountains of NC can have you exploring the ridgetops of a mountain after lunch and then sipping a glass of distinctive, locally produced wine by dinner. Here is your comprehensive guide to the best wineries and vineyards available in the western-most towns of North Carolina.
B & C Winery
Located in the resort town of Maggie Valley, NC near the legendary Cherokee Indian Reservation, B & C Winery imports the skins and juices of grapes from around the world and blends them with crisp mountain spring water to make some of the finest wines in our region. Owners Chris and Bob, a silent-but-supportive partner, welcome you (and your pets!) into their tasting room.
For a medium-bodied Barolo described as “burly and assertive,” order the Long Views red table wine with notes of dark cherry and strawberries and a floral aroma. Or lighten up with a chilled Colorful Wings Pinot Grigio, a bright, dry white wine with perfumy notes of citrus and almonds.
In addition to daily wine tastings, B & C Winery may also be reserved for a private tasting. Or, check out their event calendar when planning your trip, and you may be able to catch a fun class like “Paint and Sip in the Afternoon.”
Insider Tip: They also can work with you to create a custom wine for a special event like a wedding or family reunion. Talk about a showstopper!
Deep Creek Winery
Deep Creek Winery makes its home in Bryson City, a fascinating and quaint small town in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Co-owner, Robert Acton, has been making wine for a decade. Together with co-owner and wife, Heather, he retrofitted an old barn to create a charming small-scale winery. Using grapes imported from all over the world, Deep Creek specializes in small batches to ensure the flavors and aromas that go into making a quality wine.
Settle in at a table on the deck overlooking the magnificent scenery to begin your adventure. Wines by both the glass and bottle are sampled to you tableside for that extra-personal service. Order a charcuterie platter for some ideal wine and food pairings.
Experience the flavors of the South with a glass of Southern Hospitality, a peach-infused California Chardonnay. Taking the Bronze at a 2018 wine competition in upper New York State, this wine offers crisp and sweet notes. Or, if you prefer something red with berry undertones, you can’t go wrong with the Fire Side Red, an easy-drinking Pinot Noir made with grapes from the Burgundy Region of France.
Special Note: Deep Creek Winery does not take reservations or allow pets or anyone under the age of 21, so plan accordingly.
Eagle Fork Vineyard
A small, boutique winery, Eagle Fork Vineyard is located in beautiful Hayesville, NC, and relies on all aspects of the natural world to produce its luscious grapes for winemaking. Harnessing the warm, misty summer days and refreshingly cool nights of the Great Smoky Mountains, the winemakers take great grape-growing one step further. Standing along the rushing mountain stream that borders the vineyard, you can hear the classical music being played to the vines in the early morning hours. Relaxed, happy, cultured grapes indeed! (Insider Note: playing them classical music also means their grapes can be insecticide-free.)
Visit the tasting room and grab a seat on the outdoor pavilion to enjoy a glass of Petite Monsing, a richly sweet, late-harvest wine with hints of citrus, sweet spice, peach and apricots. Or for a drier white similar to a Pinot Grigio, order the Seyval with notes of fresh, ripe citrus and pineapple. Seeking a perfect, medium-bodied, lightly tannic red wine to sip? You won’t go wrong ordering a glass of Classic Chambourcin, one of Eagle Fork’s premium wines, rich with the taste of caramel, chocolate, cherries and blackberries.
With what started as a hobby of making wine at home with wine-making kits, Jan and Kurt Olson, founders of FernCrest Winery, eventually got serious about their passion and planted a small vineyard of their own in 2010. They chose to focus on three varietals that would thrive in the local climactic conditions: Chardonel, Vidal Blanc and Cynthiana. In 2013, they produced their first wines and immediately started winning awards.
The name “FernCrest” comes from Kurt’s background as a fern specialist, growing his own fern spores and easily identifying wild ferns on sight. The “Crest” refers to the location of the winery, situated on the crest of a hill. Charmingly, all of their wines are named after ferns.
The winery overlooks the steep, rocky slope below where the growing grapes harness the power of the sun for optimum plumpness and juiciness. When needing additional grapes, the Olsons, always with an eye on buying local, purchase grapes from other nearby vineyards.
For your convenience, FernCrest opened a Tasting Room in downtown Andrews, NC where you can sample different wines by the glass or order a bottle of your favorite. (Check days and hours in advance.) There are many delectable wines to choose from, starting with their Royal White. Described as “a dry, crisp wine made from our vineyard grown Vidal Blanc grapes – floral aromas with tangerine and pineapple flavors,” Royal White won Gold in 2021 at the NC State Fair (previous vintages have also won Gold and Silver medals.)
Connoisseurs of red wines must try the Mountain Wood Red, a full-bodied, dry wine made from the Cynthiana grape varietal grown in the FernCrest Winery vineyard. With a spicy nose and finish, Mountain Wood delivers on plum and blackberry notes. Or lose yourself in a glass of Black Lady, featuring locally hand-picked blackberries and blueberries. One glass is a journey from a sweet start to a tart finish.
In addition to award-winning wines, FernCrest also sells local cheeses from Yellow Branch Creamery; visitors rave about their Natural Rind Cheese that has been aged for at least 6 months. Pair that with 5-Spice Apple Butter from Garnet Gals Jams or Pineapple Jalapeno Jam from maams HotJam and you have yourself a delicious feast.