It’s a gorgeous Friday afternoon in October. After a week of rain, the sky is a clear blue with a white tint on the edges of the horizon. I’m sitting on the patio of Cellar 4201, a small boutique winery in the Yadkin Valley AVA of North Carolina, surrounded by crape myrtles, ferns, and bright yellow hibiscus flowers; the whole area pock-marked with two-seater cast iron tables sporting sun umbrellas in vibrant shades of yellow and orange.
I’ve just finished a tasting with one of the owners, Greg, and have settled down to work while sipping a glass of their Cherokee Red, an oak-aged blend of Merlot, Cabernet, and Sangiovese. The nose is soft and full, with hints of cedar, chocolate, and coffee that mimic the espresso bean chocolate I tasted with the wine. The mouthfeel is pleasantly round, demonstrating rich plum and blackcurrant, with notes of raspberry and chocolate on the back end. The finish is smooth; the tannins, gentle but present.
I meet the winery mascot, a thirteen-year-old beagle named Buttercup, and spend a few minutes talking to the other owner, Donna. The patio is still wet from a hosing-down before tomorrow’s fundraising event for the horse rescue operations at Hidden K Stables, so we chat about upcoming wine events in the Yadkin Valley.
Meanwhile, the poplar trees at the edge of the property are going through their own form of veraison, shading from green to yellow at the tops. It’s been an odd year for weather, Greg confirms: late freeze; spotty hot summer; rainy fall; and early, slim harvest. By now, his five-and-a-quarter acres are all safely bestowed in steel and oak inside the rustic brick winery to my right. The 2012 barrel-aged Chardonnay looks particularly promising, he says.
Cellar 4201 sells two Chardonnays (oaked and steel), a reserve Merlot, a Cabernet, the Cherokee Red, and a semi-sweet red blend called Sweet Native. All of the wines are reasonably priced at under $20 a bottle. Most are sold right here at the winery, and for good reason. I can think of few better ways to spend a Friday afternoon than with friendly people, lovely scenery, and a glass of red wine to make the hours speed by.
Thanks, Cellar 4201!