Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Wineries of the Triangle

By Jen | Sept 30, 2015
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

Did you know that September is N.C. Wine and Grape Month? According to, North Carolina is home to more than 100 wineries throughout the state, from the coast to the mountains and everywhere in between. We set out on a quest just a couple of years ago to visit as many of the wineries North Carolina has to offer as possible. At last count, and following this blog, we would have visited 40 wineries in the state. Looks like we have some work to do if we want to visit all the state has to offer.

To celebrate N.C. Wine Month, we recently decided to explore the wineries right here in our own backyard – with wineries within 30-minutes of downtown Raleigh. The wineries that fall within this category belong to the "Piedmont" region. The other regions to explore are the "Mountains," "Coast," "Yadkin Valley/Swan Creek" and "Haw River Valley."

North Carolina is best known for the muscadine grape and the European-style vinifera grape. A typical muscadine wine is sweet and sometimes considered a dessert wine whereas the vinifera grape produces varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, to name a few.  The wineries mentioned in this blog that are located in the Piedmont region tend to be more prevalent with the sweet muscadine than the drier wines, but we found a nice balance of both.

As all tastes differ, we will not be "critiquing" the wines per se, but the experience and what you can expect with a visit of your own and so close to home for a simple day-trip. During our quest to find wineries within a 30-minute drive from downtown Raleigh, we found four wineries. Typically we would be heading out for a day trip or weekend getaway to the Yadkin Valley and never knew what lurked in our own backyard.

Ranking by distance from downtown Raleigh Marriott City Center:

Chatham Hill Winery

8245 Chapel Hill Road, Cary NC 27513

11 miles from downtown Raleigh / 15 minutes from downtown Raleigh

Hours of Operation:

  • Monday:  Closed
  • Tuesday - Thursday: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Friday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Sunday: 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Tours Available: Daily

Tastings Available: Daily

Wine tastings and tours typically are $10 per person and include samples of 8 wines, a souvenir wine glass and tour.

Prices range from $12 - $19 a bottle

Varietals include:  Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Rose'

Sweet Varietals include: Sweet Carolina White, Sweet Carolina Red, Sweet Carolina Pomegranate, Sweet Carolina Mango, etc.

Established in 1999, Chatham Hill Winery is considered an "urban" winery and is the first of its kind in the Triangle. The wines are made on-site using grapes produced from the Yadkin Valley.

We visited Chatham Hill Winery on a Friday evening for WineAway Friday. Friday evenings take on more of a wine bar atmosphere with live jazz music and make for a great date night. They do not do tastings on Fridays but rather Wine Bridge samples for $12. 

We decided on two samplers, a white and a red, each containing four samples. The wines we tried included a Viognier, Rosé, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Trinity – a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The favorite of the evening was the Trinity.  Whatever your taste ... Chatham Hill delivers.

Adams Vineyards and Winery

3390 John Adams Rd, Willow Spring NC  27592

14.5 miles from downtown Raleigh / 25 minutes from downtown Raleigh

Hours of Operation:

  • Monday:  Closed
  • Tuesday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Sunday: 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Tours Available: No

Tastings Available: Daily

Tastings are $5 for a selection of 8 wines to sample. 

Prices range from $8 - $15 a bottle

Varietals include:  Beulah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadine, Fruit Wines

Adams Vineyards is located in Willow Spring just about 30-minutes from downtown Raleigh. Similar to many vineyards in the state, Adams began as a tobacco and cotton farm back in the 1700s, but now grows the muscadine grape, prevalent to North Carolina.

We visited Adams Vineyards on a Sunday afternoon to sample the wines they have to offer. With a group of five of us, they graciously made room for our group at a table where we embarked on this new tasting adventure. The tasting consists of a selection of 8 wines to choose from.The majority of their wines are made from the muscadine grape, however, the Beulah, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc are made from the vinifera grape of the Yadkin Valley. 

The favorite of the day was the Beulah, a dry white wine. Adams Vineyards top sellers are the Winter Sunset and the Clara Breeze, both described as sweet wines.

Cloer Family Vineyards
8624 Castleberry Rd, Apex NC 27523

20.4 miles from downtown Raleigh / 27 minutes from downtown Raleigh

Hours of Operation:

  • Monday - Thursday:  Closed
  • Friday:  12 p.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Tours Available:  Yes, Self-Guided

Tastings Available: Daily

Tastings are $5 for all 5 of their wines to sample. 

Prices range from $14 - $18 a bottle

Varietals include:  Riesling, Merlot, Muscadine

Cloer Family Vineyards, located in Apex, opened in 2010 and is the second family-owned farm in the Triangle to grow its own grapes and produce wines on-site. Like many wineries in this area, Cloer grows the muscadine grape.

We visited Cloer Family Vineyards on a Saturday afternoon. We were pleasantly surprised to arrive at this winery so close to home, yet felt like we were in the Yadkin Valley. The owners at Cloer Vineyards were very welcoming. 

We did the tasting which consisted of all five of their wines with our favorite being the Matador, the house Merlot. We decided to buy a bottle of the Matador and venture out to the picnic area to enjoy the day. We will definitely be going back to this winery in the near future.

Gregory Vineyards

275 Bowling Spring Drive, Angier NC  27501

25.7 miles from downtown Raleigh / 30 minutes from downtown Raleigh

Hours of Operation:

  • Monday - Tuesday:  11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday - Saturday: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Sunday:  1 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Tours Available:  Yes, Wednesday - Sunday (see web page for details and times)

Tastings Available: Daily

Tastings are $5  

Prices range from $10 - $16.50 a bottle

Varietals include:  Muscadine, fortified wines and wine slushies

Gregory Vineyards is located in Angier and not only features a winery but also a distillery and restaurant, Lane's Seafood & Steak House. Gregory is one of two wineries in the state that also have a distillery, with the other being Windsor Run in Hamptonville, which is part of the Swan Creek AVA.

We visited Gregory Vineyards on a Sunday afternoon as part of a group of seven. We had a private table tasting consisting of approximately 13 wine samples for $5. Not being a huge fan of sweet wines or the muscadine grape, we do always enjoy trying these wines nonetheless and the wines produced by Gregory may be one of my favorites of this grape type. We walked away with a couple of bottles of Popaw's Apple, a fortified coming in at 20% ABV. Another favorite of the day was the Sly Fox, a dry red muscadine wine. We enjoyed hearing the stories behind each wine and look forward to visiting Gregory Vineyards again and perhaps take in a tour that we missed out on this time.

In October, we'll be exploring some of the Wineries & Breweries of the NC High Country.