NC Wineries – Time to Visit


Fall at Burntshirt vineyards

NC Wineries are the perfect place to visit this fall. Looking for a destination for your fantastic fall foliage drive this year? There are 25 wineries all within 1 ½ hours of Asheville. Imagine exploring the vineyards of WNC, enjoying wine tastings at beautiful wineries or picnicking amid the streams and mountains surrounding the vineyards. Surprised that we have so many wineries here? You can check out the smallest, complete, free standing winery in America at Calaboose Cellars in Cherokee County or visit a winery with vineyards situated on both sides of the Eastern Continental Divide at some of highest elevations on the East Coast at Burntshirt Winery in Hendersonville. Every winery has a story!


Awards for Lake James Winery

NC Wineries and their wines are creating quite a stir in the wine world. We are one of the fastest growing wine regions in the country and our wines are winning international, regional and state-wide medals for excellence. Whether you prefer the fine dry reds and whites, the delicious semi-sweets or the down-home taste of our native Muscadine wine you will find them all within a short drive of Asheville. Forget Napa and Sonoma and check out NC Wine Country. You’ll find everything you need to plan your trip at WNC Wine Trails.


Visit the WNC Wine Trails

NC Wineries are growing every month! We are now up to more than 150 wineries state wide. Surprised?! Even more surprising is that prior to prohibition North Carolina was the largest wine producing state in the country! Of course, at that time it was primarily our native Muscadine wine – yes that sweet wine that everyone says their grandmothers used to make for them. The Muscadine wines have matured over the years. Read more about the history of NC Wine and the Muscadine grapes at North Carolina Wine Gifts. Go out and discover NC Wine Country this Fall!

Child’s Play

I was more nervous than I thought I’d be when Loura McRae, the owner of All God’s Children Child Enrichment Center, asked me to speak about my job to a group of children. First of all, there was the age range; 5-10 year olds. How was I supposed to get a 5 year old excited about writing when she can only spell a couple words? How was I supposed to convince a 10 year old at summer camp that writing is fun, and this isn’t like school?

I thought back to my beginnings…the age old question I’m always asked, “Lorna, when did you start writing?”

“Always,” I answer, “I wrote before I even knew how to hold a pen.”

I realized I wasn’t going to convince these kids of anything. My original plan was to go in and have them co-write a story with me. I’d start them off, and we’d all add events until we had a finished product. Then I stopped and thought…that is just a writing activity. Yes, I’d be asking them to use their imaginations, but on something I prompted. It was an assignment. That would never inspire them; it would have been a task with a beginning and end, and would never linger once I left the room. It would be about something I asked them to do instead of something they discovered on their own. I had a real shot to introduce these kids to expresssion, and had to be careful not to make a lesson of it.

I started by asking them their likes and dislikes…movies, books, video games, activities, and showed them how without writers who chase the things that run through their heads to write them down, we wouldn’t have any of it. I then asked them what they know about some place they’d never been…another city or country, and opened their eyes to how writing, voice, opinion, and personality connects us to the things we haven’t even experienced.

I let them know writing has no limits at all, and it isn’tabout a pen and paper or computer. It is about creating and experiencing, and making it so other people can too. It is communicating humanity. It’s art. Writers give legs to the lame, vision to the blind, and music to the deaf.

All I knew to do was share my passion with them, and that’s what I did. I started telling them about blogging about a hot air balloon ride on a magical morning, and how the words came when I simply imagined myself there again, letting the experience speak for me. They started telling me things they had seen and felt, and what they’d been reminded of in certain experiences. They were so excited, and they were writing to me already!

I then read them an unpublished manuscript of mine based on a fairy hunt I created to stop a friend’s daughter from crying after a bee sting. I explained how a fairy tale was born from just reflecting on something that really happened. I could see little light bulbs flashing on in their eyes…they were thinking up things like this of their own.

When I passed out journals I’d made for them, they couldn’t wait to fill them with the stories and ideas that were starting to generate. They loved that it was not to turn in and no one had to ever see it. The younger children were excited to learn they could even draw their stories, or simply tell them to anyone who’ll listen.

These kids were fired up when I left, and the warm reception I experienced at All God’s Children was definitely soup for my writer’s soul. It gave me a chance to remember the early days when I was writing just to get it out, because something was that exciting to me. That’s how it should always be. Writing isn’t sentences, grammar, or impressing people. It’s making connections with anything and everything outside the words that become the sweetest deliverence. Just connections…that’s it…child’s play.

The smiling faces at All God's Children with their journals!  They even let me photo-bomb :)

The smiling faces at All God’s Children with their journals! They even let me photo-bomb 🙂

Stay tuned for one of these children’s stories to be featured on this August!

Also contact Loura McRae at 828-515-0661 for more information on child care! She’s awesome!

Something to “Ponder”: Make-up, Missions, and Re-Missions

When sitting down with Asheville-native, Lauren Ponder Boggs, it’s hard to believe she’s a person who’s ever faced adversity.  She is fresh, happy, and optimistic.  Some “quality” sort of dances on her like a light she carries around, but completely on accident.  She seems she is unscathed, untouched, and estranged to the things most people blame their scars on …however, this is hardly the case. Lauren was a competitor from day one.   Before she reached the more tumultuous times in her life, childhood prepared her to become a fighter.  She grew up competing in pageants, dance competitions, and cheerleading competitions before moving on to the ultimate competition that landed her a modeling contract with Hawaiian Tropic.  She spent hours in the gym perfecting her talents, determined to blow her adversaries out of the water. Blood, sweat, and tears were minimal effort. Though, often in the limelight, she still had to work with every fiber that created her to be the cream of the crop.  When she explained to me how she knew she wasn’t meant to be average, she blushed a little, as humans are often taught to do for having the heart of a contender.  Though her humility is a breath of fresh air, it becomes clear why her successes were meant to be.  They readied her for the battle of her life. At 24 years old, when most post-college adults are realizing the world awaits them, Lauren’s revelation came in the form of a rare pediatric bone cancer, living as an unwelcomed mass in her chest.  Doctors explained how they’d never seen a case like hers before, and she would be receiving the most aggressive treatment available. From a medical stand-point, her case had a grim outlook.  The prognosis was frightening. Lauren knew her friends and family were in a state of terror, though they tried to remain calm for her.

Fighting with a friend

Fighting with a friend

“I don’t know if I was naïve, or in denial, but I never thought I wouldn’t beat [cancer].  I wasn’t worried,”  Lauren told me casually. I looked back at her, noticing her demeanor hadn’t changed an ounce when our conversation transitioned to her life-threatening illness.  She didn’t look away, didn’t cry, didn’t flinch.  She couldn’t wait to share her story.  She wanted her half-full glass to spill onto others.  And there is water pure and genuine in that cup.  Sitting there, I wondered if I, myself was capable of this level of hope and optimism. Like she knew she would, she beat the cancer, and it hasn’t dared to show it’s face in town again.  Troubles over, right? Without much calm before the next storm, Lauren, now a wife and mother of two is facing a financial crisis.  The bills are stacking up and there are innocent growing mouths to feed.  It’s a struggle to keep the power on, and to have enough gas in the car for a normal daily routine.  Something has to be done fast.  The economy is in the tank, no one is hiring, and the ones that are won’t make a dent in the situation.  Panic time was an hour ago; the storm is here. She has to jump into mud kicking for the second dare-to-be-great situation of her life. It’s been less than a year and a half.  Lauren is currently a Senior Sales Director, and next month will be crowned Executive Senior Sales Director…except the crown is a shiny new BMW.  Like a mother lioness, she looked out unto the savannah, her cubs behind her, and reclaimed her territory with a vengeance gifted to her by nature.  She doesn’t lick her wounds, she doesn’t show off her scars, and she doesn’t wear any medals of honor.  She shares her story. It is simply a story of a woman, a wife, a mother, and a business person who as she put in her own words, “comes from a place of yes.” Lauren would like to use this story to bless others, as she feels Mary Kay is her mission field.  A quarter of any sales she makes as a result of this story will be donated in the purchaser’s name to WNC Cancer Care. For more information on how to donate or to become a part of Mary Kay please contact Lauren Ponder Boggs at or 828-785-9241.  She can’t wait to share in your mission!

Lauren and her gorgeous family

Lauren and her gorgeous family


Mary Kay face!

Mary Kay face!

Small Town, Big Voice: Ten Reasons to Adore Candler Town

Candler, North Carolina, or Candler Town as locals refer to it, isn’t shown on most maps, remains an unincorporated town, and provides but a fraction of the population of the greater Asheville Metro area. One highway runs down the middle of the seemingly small patch of dirt once known as Harkins, and this is a place people often think is only on the way to another. However, there are many hidden jewels starting to unearth themselves. Candler is a small package full of delicious things everyone should know about, and here are the ten reasons why:

It’s a great place to PLAY! The Buncombe County Sports Complex is nestled right in the heart of Candler Town!  This gorgeous park, with Blue Ridge Mountain views, features a host of soccer fields, a bocce ball court, a sandy beach volleyball court, a playground, and a beautiful walking and biking trail.  It’s a great place to take advantage of pristine picnic sheds and spend a day in nature with the fam!  Also don’t forget to check out the awesome community garden and orchard on site!

It’s a place of budding  new businesses! Candler is home to many small businesses, and is a “mom and pop” capitol of sorts.  The latest to crop up? A two-mama shop, owned by Brooke Rickman and Charity Grindstaff, called  Blue Ridge Chicks.  These lovely ladies with a stock full of “vintage treasures and creative beauties,” bring a whole new world of shabby chic apparel and décor to the Asheville area via their amazing trunk shows.  The ladies tell AskAsheville, “we are two soulful southern chicks, born and raised smack dab in the middle of the blue ridge mountains of WNC.  We are artists, designers, dreamers and followers of Christ.”  Make sure to visit these innovative ladies at to become part of their journey that brings folk-art-esque designs into the 21st century.

The Blue Ridge Chicks, Charity and Brooke!

The Blue Ridge Chicks, Charity and Brooke!

 It’s a place with roots!

Candler makes new businesses, but keeps the old!  Any Candler native loves the town favorite, Miami Restaurant.  The place, like the little town itself, may not look like a whole lot at first glance, but has tons to offer!  Though the restaurant has been around for decades on end, and was once a part of the now abandoned Miami hotel, Zack and Georgia Papazahariou have owned and operated it for thirty years.  Patrons of the restaurant are guaranteed to see Georgia herself mixing up her famous potato salad whenever they pop their heads around the corner of her friendly kitchen.  Donna Brooks, a  Candler grandmother known to many simply as “Nanny,” says about Miami, “[It’s] local people, local gossip, wonderful Greek spaghetti. Never had a dull moment.”

The Miami Restaurant.  Sweet and simple.

The Miami Restaurant. Sweet and simple. Just try the  tea!

 The Farm!

The Farm, located just off Justice Ridge Road, only 10 minutes from Asheville is one of the most beautiful wedding venues in town.  Just behind a beautifully restored Victorian Farmhouse rests the “barn,”  where memories are made every weekend.  The feeling of going back to a simpler time, where entire communities gathered hovers over this place, but with an unparalleled level of elegance lingering close by.  For pictures and testimonials visit

 Biltmore Lake!

Biltmore Lake is one of the nicest and most family-friendly communities in Buncombe County.  It is an upper-scale community, but because of the arts & crafts inspired lake houses, the neighborhood maintains a certain quaintness.  The tree-lined streets, walking trails, 62 acre lake with beach areas, and recreation facilities are the cherry on top of the gorgeous houses that are perfect for porch-sitting!  Everyone who lives in the lakeside mini-community knows they are home at last.  Biltmore Lake is indeed a gem in Candler.  Visit for more info!

 Pisgah View Ranch!

This dude ranch, known as the best dude ranch this side of the Mississippi, is located serenely at the foot of Mount Pisgah.  Not only is it a great place to spend the day horseback riding up winding mountain trails, but to also spend the night.  The old farmhouse now serves as a bed and breakfast with cozy rooms and home-cooked meals.  Moreover, the tennis court, pool, and Pioneer Museum ensures something to do for all!

 Musicians Galore!

Everyone knows on any given night it’s possible to spot Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Artimus Pyle at the Smoky Park Applebees’s.  However, the town holds even further-reaching musical roots. Candler folks are no strangers to a little pickin’ on the porch.  On many of those porches where fingers are bloodied from six-strings  and singing voices are perfectly raspy from moonshine, dreams are born.  Bands such as blue-grass crooners, Sons of Ralph, hail from the tiny town, along with local country singer, Jody Medford.  Medford has performed on stage with names such as Dolly Parton, Don Williams, and Wayne Newton.  He was recently added to CMT’s artists, with a video produced by Lonestar’s, Keech Rainwater.  The community is anxiously awaiting the release of Medford’s new album, produced by the highly revered band, Alabama’s guitarist, Kimo Forrest, with whom he’ll be touring with this summer!  Medford says, “being an Enka- Candler native, I never dreamed these kind of doors would open musically for me; and I’m so proud to be from this area, and wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Jody Medford in his element!

Jody Medford in his element!

Historic Enka

Enka doesn’t exist anymore, except within the arms of Candler.  No one even has a physical address of Enka, NC anymore, yet it is an enormous part of history in Candler.  Enka is an acronym for four Dutch words that the once thriving ENKA plant was named for.  Many citizens moved to this area just to work at “the plant.”  In 1929, Enka Village, an adorable collection of brick homes, still standing on the tree-decorated streets was built to provide a community for plant workers.  The neighborhood is still a playground for laughing children and backyard barbecues.  It’s a great place to live, steeped in history, and has a great view of the old Enka Plant clock tower that has become an unofficial symbol of the community.  Jack Lovingood, who grew up in Enka Village says, “the clock tower has been an icon in the community my entire life, and seeing it standing there brings a certain level of comfort and nostalgia.”

Clock Tower at about a mile's everywhere!

Clock Tower at about a mile distance…it’s everywhere!

 Access to the Blue Ridge Parkway!

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the longest single-planned road in the country, winding through 469 miles of national parks, scenic overlooks, and vacation opportunities; and guess what else?  Perfect access from Candler, NC.  Candler is the perfect little town to stop off in for a goodnight’s sleep on a Blue Ridge road trip!

 Asheville Hot Air Balloons!

Candler is the home to the only business that has the ability to fly tourists and locals alike across this portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  By stopping off in Candler, a person may just experience the thrill of a lifetime soaring overtop the trees watching the birth of a Carolina dawn.  Stay tuned with as we take the journey as a team next Saturday, May 10th.  We can’t wait to share our experiences, pictures, and good times with everyone on Candler’s most exciting attraction!  Also visit

Playing Dress-UP

I changed the way I look at jewelry Monday night.  I didn’t learn anything about measurements, techniques, or jewelry biz lingo really.  I don’t remember the names of the gorgeous gems or stones I was tinkering with either.  I didn’t want to know those things.  However, when Asheville jewelry-maker, Nadine Fidelman invited me into her home, she taught me all I could ever hope to learn about why we choose to decorate ourselves the way we do.

At first glance jewelry is like looking out into a crowd of people.  There are a lot of shapes, sizes, colors, and styles all running together into rainbow overload.  The first thoughts are, ‘oh I see pretty things,’ and then we start searching for a focal point.  It is in that search that we realize we’re being pulled towards certain things and we start to examine why.  While I was zeroing in on a generally smooth black stone with a noticeable organic crack in the upper right corner I could overhear one of my side kicks talking about the jewelry.

“It’s not just beads, they’re individual pieces,” I heard my fellow playmate Kelly Allen offer.

At first I thought, ‘yeah, ok, there’s a lot of different jewelry here.  I can see that.’  Then I took a breath and thought about that word individual. I realized what she meant, and that I wasn’t just looking at the pieces, I was meeting them.  I went back to my black stone, noticing the gorgeous, crystal-esque inclusions the flaw revealed.  I was in love.  I thought of my own personality, how I like the rawness in life, and the beauty I find in truth.  I also believe in fighting like hell and collecting battle scars…I thought of how hard it is being a writer and how far I still had to go in the world of manuscripts.  I wanted that beautiful stone.  I had found my connection.

Lorna's Fave!

  Lorna’s Fave!




We moved the party to the carpet where  the impossible not love, Nadine plopped right down with us, kicking her shoes off ready to dig in.  She shared stories with us about where she had found inspiration for her work, and let her obvious passion for her trade seep out onto us.  We started tossing necklaces and bracelets around, trimming ourselves in the jewelry like we did our mothers’ as children.  We’d try a piece on in between sips of girly shelf white wine, and chat about what we’d chosen. I asked the other three girls what they thought of what they’d selected.

Nadine chatting with Kelly about healing stones

Nadine chatting with Kelly about healing stones

Kelly, who had remarked earlier on the individualism, was drawn to stones she knew to have healing qualities.  As cancer survivor, officially in remission since January; she keeps her eyes peeled for items in nature than bode healing qualities.  Her journey with her sickness, and attention to wellness has brought her upon her choices in jewelry.  Out of those stones, one in particular jumped out at her.

“This one looks like a fishing lure,” she commented excitedly holding up the yellowish vertical stone,” like my Daddy used.”  She set it down smiling.  She had found her connection.

Whitney Thompson, a native Ashevillian piped up from the other side of the circle, holding up a gorgeous blue stone in a similar fashion. “This one reminded me of the sea,” she said.  “It’s like when you’re little.  I just wanted to take my flip-flops off.  When I saw it I wanted to go to the beach and run around.”

Whitney explaining what she loved about the peice whitpic
Whitney explaining what she loved about the piece 

Whitney’s stone actually provoked a childhood memory to surface, making her feel carefree again as she had in her most innocent years.  Whitney had found her connection.

The youngest of the group, Hannah, a 16-year-old, chose a piece unlike the rest of us, without a stone.  Her piece was raw, twisted sterling silver wired, manipulated by hand into an untamed yet simple set of earrings.  I chuckled thinking how the piece was like being a teenager, beautiful, unsure which direction it was going, and not as simple as it appeared to be.  They fit Hannah just perfectly, and hung daintily on her young ears.  She had made her connection.  I wonder if she knew…

Dainty Hannah

Dainty Hannah

While I was pondering this Whitney was perusing the backside of a necklace, “you know, their backs are just as pretty and detailed as their fronts.”

Nadine explained to the group how this is one of her trademarks.  I thought how much it made sense because there are different sides to women…many sides.  They are sometimes tucked away against our own skins for only us to enjoy and sometimes decided to be displayed so people can see our normally hidden sides.  Nadine told us she’d even been in public and saw her creation flipped over, showing them from the opposite sides.  What self-expression.

I learned something Monday night.  Jewelry isn’t just embellishment, it’s an embellishment of us.  Often times who we are is in the tiny details of the things we choose to let represent us.  We weren’t wearing jewelry, we were wearing little pieces of who we are.  I thought I was going to just play dress-up, and I did to an extent.  I just didn’t know I would be using Nadine’s art to dress up as myself.


If you want to make your connection with Jewelry by Nadine check out her collection at the Kress Emporium in downtown Asheville.

19 Patton Ave,  Asheville, NC 28801

If you’d love your own play date with Nadine call her 828-654-0993 or email her at





Have an interesting story?  Contact AskAsheville’s Lorna Hollifield at lornalh@gmail .com 828-280-1799


Find out more about Lorna’s writing journey at