St. Paul Mountain - Crest of the Blue Ridge

Foods & Drinks

  • Author Liam Kirk
  • Published December 19, 2019
  • Word count 509

Yesterday I visited the St. Paul Mountain Vineyard. Officially it opens at 11 am, I arrived about 11:30. No other visitors were present. The farm atmosphere was definitely in the air - rows and rows of grape vines undulated the hilly terrain. A modest building was set off the road with two entrances into a gravel parking lot that formed a L shape around the building. Existing cars parked at an angle. Since it was not crowded, it was easy to maneuver when exiting. I suspect on crowded days, of which there are many I presume since this is North Carolina's #2 vineyard, it will not be easy to turn around. There is a tall delivery door on the building's front side. The bar and customer lounge are on the building's back half.

The bar front entrance was locked, so I went out back. A large patio with about 15 large round tables settled amongst the vineyard trees was the first enticement. Later I noticed an elevated fire pit on the patio to enable a longer outdoor drinking experience for cool fall nights.

I stepped inside and was impressed by the welcoming atmosphere. A huge roaring fireplace alerted me with a large crackle. A real fire, not a phony gas log - nice touch. I was expecting quality, and before I even tasted the wine I knew this place had it.

I have always been a Merlot fan. The bartender was a young woman with a fascination for the wine industry. She explained the soil & climate conditions are just perfect for Merlot in Henderson county. She poured a small sample and I was immediately enticed by the strong aroma. She said the present Merlot is a 2017 vintage. She said in 6 months the tanins in the bottle will be softer. The bottle should be consumed within 4 years - be sure the cork stays moist during storage.

The young lady explained to me that Crest of the Blue Ridge is very young. Napa Valley is well established. I understand the article I read may have been hype that Henderson County may become better than Napa Valley. But to give a baseball analogy, "build it and they will come." It is a field of dreams in baseball. For wine "it" is the aroma, the taste, and the euphoria that wine provides. Look out Napa, Blue Ridge is building "it".

I paid $33 for the Merlot bottle. Typically I have never paid more than $10 for a wine bottle. I will wait at least 6 months unless a special occasion occurs.

Next I plan to visit Burnt Shirt Vineyard. I am still expecting quality since this vineyard is #8 in North Carolina. Looking at their website I expect a more commercial enterprise. Variety is the spice of life, and these two vineyards appear to offer variety - let's see how my observation will compare to present expectations.

I am just amazed that such a high quality vineyard is so close. Henderson County is rising to a level of sophistication I would not have expected. I am proud to call it home.

Liam Kirk has lived in Henderson county for nearly 9 years. A retired engineer, he currently sells wine racks at https://winerackspro.com/. Liam has six patents in the Electronics industry. Liam also works part time at Biltmore mansion parking cars and taking employees between house and their vehicle. Prior to moving to North Carolina, Liam lived in Illinois & Indiana. Liam was born and raised in Chicago, youngest of seven in an Irish family.

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