A Few Things We Love About South Carolina Wineries!

As natives of South Carolina, allow us to share a few things we love about South Carolina wineries.

We love Pinot the pig, fun gatherings, and award winning wines at CityScape Winery in Pelzer.  

We love the annual Harvest Festivals and Pack the Porch festivals at Enoree River Vineyard in Newberry. So much fun!

We love hard apple cider and those hot apple cider donuts at Windy Hill Orchard and Cidery in York.

Love visiting Deep Water Vineyard on Wadmalaw Island outside of Charleston for a wine tasting, and walking next door for tasting at Firefly Distillery.

Love an after dinner visit to Old Rock Quarry Winery in Enoree. Feels like visiting old friends and hanging in their backyard drinking sweet homemade wine.

Pam loves drowning the cat at Cats Paw Winery in Rock Hill. Jenni loves the wine bottle gun opener!

Love a glass of estate grown European Vinifera wine and lunch from the café enjoyed on the terrace at Victoria Valley Vineyards in Cleveland. Love the Vine to Wine tours at Mercer House Estate Winery in Lexington. Five vineyards, five scenic ponds, 2 creeks, on a one mile walking path. Have a glass while exploring nature!

Love a tasting at Boardwalk Winery and Carolina Vineyard Winery when visiting the Grand Strand.

Love Open House the first Saturday of every month at Wandering Bard Meadery in Mauldin.

Love the estate grown French-Hybrid varietals at Wellborn Winery in the Woods up in Travelers Rest.

Love the fresh fruit wines produced at Lazy Bear Winery in Easley.

Love enjoying a bottle in the barrel room at Island Winery on Hilton Head Island.

We absolutely love hosting the Palmetto Wine Competition at the historic Belmont Inn in historic Abbeville.

Love the original Palmetto Signature Six. Six award winning wines produced entirely from South Carolina grown fruit.

Love so many of the award winning wines produced and bottled in South Carolina.

Palmetto Wine Competition’s award winning Best in Show; Raspberry White Zin from CityScape Winery.

Palmetto Wine Competition gold medal lineup!

A few more of our favorite South Carolina wines!

How about setting out to visit all of our South Carolina wineries! All of our South Carolina vineyards and wineries are locally owned small businesses. Cheers!


Announcing The 2019 Palmetto Wine Competition

Jenni and Dennis Turner of WineryEscapades.Com officially announce the 2019 Palmetto Wine Competition will be held May 7th, 2019 at the historic Belmont Inn in Abbeville, South Carolina.

Planning for the 2019 state wine competition is ongoing and further details will soon follow. The 2018 competition awarded 38 medals amongst entries from nine South Carolina wineries.

The 2019 competition will award medals in categories of muscadine, bunch grape, fruit wine, mead, and cider. A highly qualified panel of judges bringing a wealth of knowledge will judge the wine entries by blind tasting. An awards gala sponsored by the South Carolina Winery and Grape Growers Association that same evening will crown and celebrate the award winning wines.

Old Edwards Inn – Highlands NC

There exist a magical resort and spa high in the rainforest of the North Carolina mountains…….wait what? It’s true, Highlands climate is temperate rainforest with rainfall amounts approaching and often exceeding 100” of rain annually. The town of Highlands sits atop a plateau in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains at an elevation of 4,118 feet. The area is lush and green and provides the most picturesque setting for one of the South’s most awarded and elegant luxury inn and spas, The Old Edwards Inn.

The Inn is historic, first opening as Central House in the late 1800’s. During those early days, the Inn was renowned for its lavish hospitality. Much has changed over the years, just not the inn’s reputation.

We stayed in a Falls Cottage. These cottages are a couple of blocks behind the historic main Inn. Our cottage was amazing. The Cottage features a fireplace with gas logs, a patio, and all modern conveniences. The bathroom has a walk-in shower on one end and a beautiful large tub on the other, heated floors and heated tower rods. Guest enjoying the romantic package, find upon arrival a welcoming gift of champagne and strawberries plus rose petals sprinkled across the bed. All guest upon arrival are welcomed with champagne or a cocktail. This stay we were greeted with a pommosa, a cocktail blend of champagne and pomegranate juice.

An award winning spa onsite is available for pampering yourself. Fine dining is offered at the award winning elegant and indulgent Madison’s restaurant. Lighter fare is available in the adjacent outside wine garden or relax and enjoy a cocktail in the piano bar or by one of the two refreshing pools with hot tubs.

We were fortunate to receive a tour of the wine cellar and wine room from staff Sommelier Phillipe. The selection of fine wine available is extensive. The town of Highlands is very quaint and offers many fine dining and shopping opportunities. The area is abundant with gorgeous accessible waterfalls and mountain hiking trails.

A stay at The Old Edwards Inn is one of those rare treats that rejuvenates one’s mind, body, and soul. An indulgence in luxury and romance seemingly as magical as a North Carolina rainforest!

Happy weekend wining!

Tryon Foothills: Four off Nine

Tryon boast a rich viticulture history of growing quality grapes and producing fine wines.

Four wineries are keeping this tradition alive. Each with its own unique vibe. All four of these wineries located just off North Carolina Highway Nine.

When driving North from the South Carolina state line, you’ll find in the below order. All four within 15 to 20 minutes of each other. Your GPS knows the way.

Russian Chapel Hills Winery cultivates 17 acres under vine. The vineyards and winery are under the direction of Andrey Medvedev, who normally greets arriving guest with a smile.

Russian Chapel is growing Chardonnay, Muscadine, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec. Russian Chapel Hills Kagor is produced of the estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

A short walk through the vineyard takes you the beautiful St. Anna Chapel which majestically overlooks the vineyard.

Mountain Brook Vineyards is a small craft winery nestled atop a foothill with stunning Mountain Views.

Approximately 7 acres under vine growing Chardonnay, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Mountain Brook wines have won awards from coast to coast. The winery features live music and stunning 360 degree views from the wrap-around porch. Strongly recommend one of their fruit sangrias.

OverMountain Vineyards is a family owned boutique vineyard and winery featuring distinctive French style wines. Owner Frank Lily and his daughter Sophia are the winemakers. Frank studied in California and North Carolina and Sophia holds a degree in Biology and for most of her life apprenticed under the guidance of her Father. The vineyard features seventeen acres under vine growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Petit Menseng.

OverMountain has a distinctive “Sonoma” feel with it’s spacious patio covered with ginormous red umbrellas. The patio steps lead to a beautiful lawn area just above the Northern sloping vineyard.

Parker-Binns Vineyards owned and operated by “retirees” Roberto and Karen Binns along with their daughter Kelly, offers a fun-time laid back vibe. We use the “retiree” tag loosely as these guys are always hopping on the weekends. Each weekend is capped with Sunday Funday offering live music and free brick oven pizza.

Growing Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Menseng, on mostly Southern sloping hillsides. Parker-Binns features two tasting rooms, the garden and also the barn which is nestled on higher ground overlooking the vineyards. The barn is often used for events and offers exceptional mountain views and a large wrap-around bar. The garden tasting room is a more cozy and intimate environment.

The Four off Nine in the Tryon Foothills make for a great wine trail. The wineries have began the process to have the area recognized as an American Viticultural Area which would be known as the Tryon Foothills. Make a point to try some “Tryon Grape” in your wine glass!


Dennis & Jenni

Winery Escapades

Final Thoughts and Press for the inaugural Palmetto Wine Competition

We are thrilled with the following press of the inaugural Palmetto Wine Competition from the Index-Journal in Greenwood, South Carolina. Staff writer St. Clair Donaghy attended the day’s events and we are thrilled to see included comments from several participating winery owners and our judges. Please take a moment to read the article. We appreciate your support.

Palmetto Wine Competition Article

The event was very rewarding for Jenni and I, even though it was indeed much more work than we anticipated. Finding enough wine glasses became a challenge. We settled on renting the glasses but then had to overcome the logistics of getting the glasses from Greenwood to the small town of Abbeville. Fortunately, a childhood friend of mine lives nearby and totally saved the day, delivering and returning all 12 racks of wine glasses. Each wine had to be assigned an unique number, and the proper tasting order had to be determined.

Selecting and gaining commitments from qualified judges was probably our biggest challenge. We wanted several highly trained and educated judges paired with others who had a developed knowledge and appreciation for local crafted wine. A couple of our initial choices could not maintain their commitment for various reasons. However, we feel as though we met our objective to sit a diverse group of well qualified judges.

We owe a huge gratitude to our sponsors. Our host site, The historic Belmont Inn of Abbeville, South Carolina was the perfect venue for our wine competition. The hotel was built in 1903 and maintains a relaxed elegance of years gone by. We highly recommend a visit and overnight stay. We believe that you will quickly come to love the Belmont same as we do. While there, be sure to try the Boomerang Burger in Tinkers Alley, the basement pub. This burger, with a pineapple slice and topped with pimento cheese is to die for!

Our other sponsor, The VinoWine App is our favorite winery escapade tool. No matter where you find yourself, open the app and click on the map to see nearby wineries. The app includes useful information about each winery and even reviews. The app further provides a marketplace for small local craft wineries to sell their wines. If you love wine, and traveling, download The Vinowine App and start exploring local craft wineries.

We also owe a great gratitude to The South Carolina Wine and Grape Growers Association. Without these guys, we’re mostly stuck drinking mass produced grocery store wines. Get out and visit a local winery, you can thank us later…..with a bottle of wine of course.

Congratulations to all our winning wineries.

CityScape Winery – Pelzer (Greenville County)

Wellborn Winery – Travers Rest (opening July 2918)

Abiding Vine Vineyard – Laurens

Enoree River Vineyards – Newberry

Mercer House Estate Winery – Lexington

Carolina Vineyard Winery – Myrtle Beach

Deep Water Vineyard – Wadmalaw Island (Charleston)

Island Winery – Hilton Head Island

Below are a few of the pictures I’ve collected from the inaugural 2018 Palmetto Wine Competition. Lunch prepared by the Belmont Inn’s Chef Darby was enjoyed on the veranda while listening to the smooth sounds of Alex Davis.

Next year, we’re planning a regional competition to promote the regions which we visit each weekend. Let the planning begin! We are very proud of the event and hope to encourage fellow wine lovers to get out and visit a local craft winery.

Judges – Palmetto Wine Competition: Bob and Jen Aycock

Allow us to continue introducing our judges for the Palmetto Wine Competition at The Belmont Inn upcoming May 1st, in historic Abbeville, South Carolina. Bob and Jennifer Aycock are fellow bloggers based in Matthews, North Carolina, just outside of Charlotte. Together, the brains and personality behind the blog WineCarolinas.

We first met Bob and Jennifer at Childress Vineyards, while attending the North Carolina Wine Month kickoff event. As fellow bloggers, they are highly focused in on the local wine industry. The two recently attended the North Carolina Wine Bloggers Conference. Featured blog post on their site feature chef inspired wine and food pairings featuring local wine which the two have carefully selected.

Bob holds a BA from UNCW, and works professionally as a social media project manager and wine blogger. He recently shared, “I enjoy a fresh Rosé as much as I like a crisp Riesling or soft Merlot. I’m a native North Carolinian who loves the charm of small towns and their distinct history. I like celebrating and exploring all that the Carolinas have to offer with my wife and our four children. Jen and I have taken our appreciation of wine and decided to completely embrace it, setting out to explore the rich variety of wines of the Carolinas. It’s great learning about the people who make the wine, the love that goes into it, and what makes it all so unique. I believe supporting local businesses and industries is important.”

Jennifer has a BA in English, and works professionally as an educator and as a wine blogger. She explained to us, “right now my wine preferences are reds, Petit Verdot, Mourvèdre, and Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Wine Carolinas, which recently celebrated it’s one-year anniversary is their passion. Although Jennifer adds, “my love of wine started as an easy way to reconnect with my husband and enjoy some adult time away from our four, awesome kids, it has blossomed into a deep passion of local wine. I thrive on learning all that I can about the industry, the grapes, the people, and the incredible stories that are poured into each glass. In the past year, I’ve visited many wineries, explored wine festivals, and attended key events with the local wine industry (NC Wine Month Kickoff Event, NC Wine Bloggers Summit). I’m excited to share with others all that South Carolina is creating in the world of wine.”

We are beyond thrilled to have both serving as judges in the inaugural Palmetto Wine Competition. Bob and Jennifer bring a wealth of knowledge about the local and regional craft wine industry and we look forward to learning from their judging notes.

Magnolia – Abiding Vine Vineyard

Tonight’s wine is the Magnolia from Abiding Vine Vineyard in Laurens, South Carolina. Abiding Vine grows six different varieties of muscadine. This small rural vineyard and winery is well worth a visit. Abiding Vine Vineyard is one of our participants in the upcoming Palmetto Wine Competition at The historic Belmont Inn in historic Abbeville, South Carolina.

Winery Escapade – Weekend 5 2018

So Dennis and had a long and much needed weekend in Savannah. We left Friday morning and headed south. We first stopped at the Angel Oak Tree in Charleston. I have never seen a tree so huge and beautiful.

We decided to go to Deep Waters Vineyard in Charleston and it’s a lovely place. Most of the wines are muscadine or a muscadine blend. The blends are muscadine with CA imported grapes. They use two types of muscadine that we had not heard of before, the Tara and the Ison. They have all sorts of animals on the property. Lots of chickens, roosters, ducks, pigs, a goat and bunnies. The goat (who’s name I have forgotten) will climb up a spiral staircase in his enclosure to get you to put some food in a little bowl that is attached to a pulley and you send it up to him & he’ll eat out of the bowl. We brought a bottle of their Magnolia, just the name of the wine not the varietal of muscadine home with us. This wine is actually made from the Carols grape.

Much to our surprise the Firefly Distillery is on the same property as the winery. So more fun there! We brought some of the Coconut Cake Liquor home. Our other favorite was the Apple Pie moonshine.

We left and headed on down to Savannah. Our hotel was amazing! We had a river view and got to see all sorts of HUGE cargo ships. They have wine and cheese every evening so that was always our appetizers before dinner. Friday night we went to B. Matthews on Bay Street for dinner and then over to Savannah Smiles for dueling pianos. To say that Savannah Smiles was not quite what we were expecting would be a vast understatement. I’ve been to a few dueling piano shows before but this one was very different. Now, just because I say it was different does not mean it was bad or that we didn’t have a good time because we did. It had just been quite the while since either one of us had a hand stamp. LOL! I had also not been to one that the players changed out periodically. There were 4 different pianists and one drummer who played on select songs. We experienced our first bicycle taxi to and from the bar and it had not been SO cold, it would’ve been a lot of fun. Both of the “drivers” were super friendly.

Saturday morning after an amazing breakfast at the hotel, we headed out to explore a bit. Again…. if it had not been so cold it would have been terrific! We both ended up buying ear muffs of sorts. The wind was brutal. I had looked at the forecast before we went and thought it would be great weather for Saturday. Not realizing there would be wind. Let me tell you, the wind coming straight off the river is COLD! But as always, we made the best of it. We then headed to Butterducks Winery. They us a combination of NC and California grapes. We had stopped there on our way home from our honeymoon and wanted to revisit. Since the winery is about 30 minutes from Savannah, it was much warmer and less windy. We had a nice time there and met some fun ladies who were enjoying a mommy’s day out. Enjoyed a glass each of their White Merlot and cheese and crackers.

Headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We went over to Tybee Island to go to the Crab Shack. SOOOO good! I had the low country boil and Dennis had the crab cakes. Both of us were STUFFED! Headed back to the hotel to get ready for our ghost tour. We decided to do The Hearse Ghost Tour because it was simply to cold to do one of the walking ones. Each hearse holds 8 people so we met some fun people. Our tour guide was hysterical! But one note. If you ever do this tour, and choose to sit in the very front, don’t sit on the left side of the hearse. Sit on the right. EVERYTHING is on the right.

After another great breakfast on Sunday, sadly we had to leave. There is so much to do in Savannah that I’m not sure even a week would be long enough to do everything. Upon checking out of the hotel., we drove around the city one more time and then headed to Hilton Head to go to Island Winery. (We went to both of these SC wineries because a) they weren’t too far out of the way and b) we needed to get them the SC Wine competition information). We found one antique store as we didn’t want to arrive exactly at noon when they opened. Between the two of us we got to taste all of their wines. They have some really nice varieties. We each enjoyed a glass and a cheese tray. We met a very lovely lady who was headed to Florida for the month.

Sadly, our fun long weekend had to end and we had to head home. Sorry for the picture overload on this one, I just had to post them all!

More fun to come next week!


Winery Escpade – Weekend 1, 2018

 Saturday we head out to Morgan Ridge Vineyards in Gold Hill, NC. I had wanted to go back there for quite sometime and Dennis made it happen this weekend. We first stopped in Historic Downtown Gold Hill and met some really interesting and fun people. We shopped in the antique store and found a Merlot key hook that we had to have. Then we headed over to the general store. We found some black bean and corn salsa for Dennis. He had found some in another little town that he really liked but the ones in our local grocery store were not as good. He tried it when we got home and said it was amazing!
We then headed on over to the winery. Just as a side note, in the historic area, there is a tasting room for Morgan Ridge. I think the next time we are in that area we will visit there.
Maggie did our tasting and was so sweet and knowledgeable. We did the premium tasting that was $10 each & we got to taste 10 wines each. They have 13 wines to choose from so between the 2 of us, we were able to taste them all. We had several favorites, but picked the Joile Blanc and the Applelicious to bring home. We also got to meet Kim the manager. Everyone there was so nice. We decided that we needed a little snack and asked for recommendations from the staff. They all said the brisket nachos. Let me tell you they did not disappoint! Our server for the nachos was Tara. We met some super sweet people there and had a great time mingling with everyone. We also found the cutest sign that we just had to buy to take to Josh & Deb at City Scape. It said Peace Love and Pinot. It was a must for them!
We decided to head over to another winery that we had been to before, Old Stone Winery. The tasting room is another that has the old diner feel to it. Shannon did our tasting and she was much fun! All their wines are muscadine, even the pomegranate and peach have muscadine in them. They had a white muscadine grape that we were not familiar with. It’s called Sweet Jenny. Even though Jenny isn’t spelled the way i do, of course I’m interested in this grape. They have 13 wines, 7 dry and 6 sweet.
Sunday after church and lunch, we headed over to City Scape to take the sign to Josh & Deb. Sadly Deb was not there as she has been under the weather. However, Josh was there and just loved the sign! We shared a bottle of the Mueller Two Goats, visited with some of the other patrons and then headed to Greenville to the Spice and Tea Exchange. I needed some more Tuscan spice blend and we also brought home some southwestern spice and cilantro.

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Winery Escapade – Weekend 45

Friday evening we had the pleasure of dining in Tryon, N.C. at an old favorite. The Caro-Mi Dining Room offers family style servings of Southern comfort food in a rustic cabin along the banks of the Pacolet River. The Caro-Mi does not serve alcohol, however brown bagging is allowed with a small service fee. So don’t hesitate to bring a bottle of your favorite local wine. I could perhaps pen an entire post about the Caro-Mi, but why not just go partake in this incredible dining experience for yourself. Keep in mind though, reservations are highly recommended.

Saturday our plan was to visit a couple which we had yet to get to. First stop is one we previously planned to visit, but ran short of time. Little River Winery is a beautiful historic property which also doubles as Summer Duck Farm. Owned by John Georgius, surrounding land acquisitions have expanded the farm to nearly 1400 acres.

The Greek revival style historic home, built in the early 1870’s, sits stately above the entrance driveway and vineyards.

Some of the wines offered which we most enjoyed included a German Riesling, and the silver medal wining Big Johns Red, a bold medium bodied blend with the Crawdad Creek label. Two different Cabernet blends, the silver medal winning Synergy which is 100% estate grown and the Infusion blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Island Breeze, a pineapple wine is also bottled under the Crawdad Creek label. We brought a bottle of the Riesling and the Big John’s Red home to add to our collection.

We left the winery and decided to stop at Town Creek Indian Mound state historic site. The site was incredibly interesting, informative, and fun.

We headed back towards Ablemerle and our final stop of the day, Stony Mountain Vineyards.

The winery sits atop Stony Mountain, part of the Uwharrie Mountain range. The winery offers incredible views from their tasting room and a small deck. The view looks out over the vineyard and valley below and upon a neighboring mountain. We were able to watch deer playing and grazing just below the vineyard. You can see the deer in the below pictures.

Winemaker Ken Furr owns the winery with his wife Marie whom we were fortunate to speak with. Daughter Laura poured our tasting, and we also met son Devron. Devron explained that their Chardonnay is extra crisp, so they like to describe it as more of a ChardonnHEY! European reds and whites are offered, and the winery is making some good fruit wines. The view is awesome and we look forward to getting back one day and taking a tour of the entire property. We enjoyed a bottle of Strawberry at the winery, and brought a bottle of the Songbird Blush home with us.

Sunday our super talented friend Alex Davis was playing at Owls Eye Vineyard. We are saddened that the winery is closing at the end of this month, yet we just couldn’t past the opportunity to see Alex perform. As his website states, Alex certainly isn’t your average piano bar man. Alex is a fellow alum of the University of South Carolina, and one the nicest individuals we know. He plays at wineries up and down the East Coast and certainly has began to build a following. We are thrilled to announce that Alex has agreed to write a guest blog for us. Look for it soon, and check out his Website for upcoming shows and to listen to his original music.

Another weekend Escapade comes to close. One note I want to pass on, as of this weekend Jenni and I have visited a total of 95 North Carolina wineries. We’re looking for recommendations as to which one should be number 100. Hoping to make a big deal out that special visit. Happy Weekend Wining!

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