Locavino: Grove Winery & Vineyards

hawrivervalleymap1037x1379_187x250Although I have explored many of the wineries in my native Yadkin Valley, the Haw River Valley, encompassing parts of Greensboro and Burlington, was largely unknown to me. On a misty Saturday morning in mid-January*, I found myself with time to spare on an eastward transit of Interstate 40.

Having recently cleared a few spots in my wine rack, I was only too willing to detour north in search of a new locavino adventure. Grove Winery & Vineyards, located twenty minutes north of Greensboro off of Route 29, seemed the perfect first encounter with the state’s newest AVA.

The fog broke just as I reached the turnoff to a winding country road lined with dry, grassy fields and mounds of red clay. The brilliant blue sky was a refreshing sight after days of rain. Within a few miles, I reached an unassuming gray building surrounded by winter-bare vines. The tasting room was small but pleasant, with an array of snacks and souvenirs for sale.

As it turned out, I had arrived just before a last-minute event planned in honor of the emerging sunshine, and during my tasting, I chatted with the musician, the tasting room attendant (Nate) and a few regulars. “The best dry wines in the Haw River Valley,” one of them told me enthusiastically.

IMG_4698Nate had entered the business the way many of us** do in North Carolina, by tasting and becoming a regular fixture at a favorite winery. His tasting was informative and thorough. I sampled two of the whites: the 2011 Haw River White, a stainless Chardonel with prominent citrus qualities, and the 2011 Viognier, lightly barrel-aged, with a lovely balance of fruit and oak.

I took home a bottle of the latter and opened it just this week to celebrate a sunny, lengthening afternoon. Initially, the floral qualities of the wine were foremost—honeysuckle on the nose and tongue—but as the glass warmed, the bouquet opened and the fruit reemerged as a mouthful of slightly spicy peaches with a hint of orange. The oak lent a silky texture and just a touch of vanilla to the finish.

Before moving to the true reds, I also sampled Grove’s variation on the rosé, a dry wine made from Sangiovese, crisp and true to form, with light flavors of raspberry.

Of the reds, I tried back-to-back vintages of Sangiovese, comparing the subtle smokiness and plum of the 2009 with the sharper tannins of the 2010. I sampled a Nebbiolo, an Italian grape with a very dry finish; a Syrah, earthier and softer than many; a smooth Cabernet Franc; and a tart, cherry-and-oak Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2009 Sangiovese is now sitting in my wine rack, waiting for just the right occasion.

Before I left, I met the winemaker, Max, who told me a little bit more about the winery, which houses forty-four acres of vines, most of them about ten years old. Grove also owns a small secondary vineyard in Virginia, combining to produce the winery’s three- to four-thousand annual cases.

Although a bit out of the way for regular visits, Grove Winery certainly earned my stamp of approval. For an intimate, leisurely tasting with solid wines and a knowledgeable staff, I highly recommend that you start your tour of the Haw River Valley in the same place that I did.

And don’t worry if you forget your reading glasses; thoughtful of even the most forgetful guests, Grove keeps spares on hand in the tasting room.

In vino veritas!


*Delayed post: such is life!

**Full disclosure: I work part-time at RayLen Vineyards & Winery in Mocksville, but I enjoy experiencing all that North Carolina’s diverse wine country has to offer. These reviews are undertaken on my own time, with no sponsorship by my employers.

Published by Jen

The author of Snark on the Side is not your average run-of-the-millennial generation. Jen is a contradiction in terms: a graceful klutz, a smart blond, a math-savvy English major, a southern liberal, and an employed young adult with a master’s degree. Snark on the Side is a work in progress, born out of years of rambling email newsletters and anthropomorphized Christmas letters, small town observations, and the ever-present irony of pursuing a career with a degree in English literature. Thanks for visiting!

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