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!

15 Great Articles Featuring Asheville North Carolina


downtown asheville nc

Asheville keeps getting featured in articles all across the Country. Now, with the big tourism influx of 2014, more and more posts are appearing on blogs, websites, and online news sites. So what is all of the excitement about? The Western North Carolina community is growing by leaps and bounds. Folks are moving here to improve their quality of life and to start living out loud. At the same time, economic development organizations are working on attracting larger companies that can provide work and decent wages for our residents, both old and new. Hopefully it will all balance out soon. But here are 15 articles featuring Asheville North Carolina that you may want to take a look at:

asheville mountains
  1. UPI – 15 Best Places To Retire
  2. Mommy Poppins – 25 Best Things To Do For Families in Asheville
  3. Forbes – Americas’s Most Beautiful Mansions
  4. Travel Channel – A Road Trip To Asheville
  5. Tampa Bay Times – Asheville Abounds With Free Pleasures
  6. Amadeus – 10 Things To See And Do In Asheville
  7. Livability – Tip Ten Foodie Cities 2014
  8. Food & Wine – Why Food Lovers Are Loving Asheville
  9. Thrillist – 7 Of The Most Underrated Food Cities In America
  10. Paste Magazine – The Craft Beer Guide To Asheville
  11. Men’s Journal – Why Asheville Is The Next Craft Beer Capital 
  12. Gutter Pup Adventures – Experience The Vibe At The “Asheville Drum Circle” 
  13. Livability – 10 Cities You Must Visit If You Are A Writer, Poet or Literature Lover
  14. Smarter Travel – America’s Best Small Cities On The Rise
  15. Food Republic – 7 Great Places To Drink Cider Around The USA

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


I started hearing tales of the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash of ’77 from my father when pampers were still my favorite pair of pants.  I knew who Ronnie Van Zant was before Big Bird, and my Sunday dinners at Mamaw’s house were really jam sessions that became my lullabies. My father’s hair was longer than my mother’s at that time, and all the men in my family sported bloody finger tips that were slaves to those beckoning long-necked instruments.  At 27 years old, in the age of whatever it is music has become that I haven’t a word that qualifies, I can bank on every family get-together bringing me back to a place when it was pure.  It’s a place I can only visit through my father’s time machine in a land that existed around the time my mother discovered boys.  I go back whenever my now greying father and Uncle pick up their guitars, close their eyes, and try to perfect still, that long ever-growing famously tricky six-string solo in Free Bird.


Artimus Pyle, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s drummer, and only original band-member still touring traipsed into the Applebee’s in Candler, North Carolina, my hometown about two weeks ago. 

“Lorna, you got to get down here, now,”  My husband’s voice was urgent on the other end of the phone.

“Why?  Is something wrong?”

“No.  Artimus Pyle is here.  We’re hanging out, and he’s cool as hell,”  my husband’s speech was hurried.

“You’re lying!”


“I’ll be there in five,”  I replied with my mind reeling all the things I knew about this legend.  I knew he had a house in Asheville, but what was he doing at an Applebee’s in the down-home Candler suburb of the artsy town?

When I walked in, I saw him immediately and I had to catch my breath a little.  I was genuinely star-struck.  I swear I could smell a faint trail of smoke permeating from his long burly hair, that grew like ragged wires from under his distressed leather cowboy hat.  I wondered what the eyes from behind his aviator glasses had seen in the world of rock n’ roll, fame, and heartache.  I knew his eyes would certainly tell the stories of things I had never and would never see. 

When my husband motioned to him, and it was our time to finally meet, I don’t remember exactly what I said.  It was something to the effect of how I grew up on his music, and was proud to keep the band alive in my generation…you know, the things you say, but trying to stand out all at once.  In retrospect, I may have sounded rushed, and looked like a pre-teen meeting Justin Bieber.

When I handed him the clean white half sheet of paper the waitress rustled up for me, I first noticed his time-worn hands.  They shook a bit as he started to write, “Laugh, Lorna.  Peace, love, and happiness (in symbols).  Artimus Pyle, Drums, Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame 2006.”  I took the sheet from him, perusing it in awe.  Then, I noticed the initials, RVZ.

“You, signed Ronnie’s initials, didn’t you?”  I asked, moved that he’d not omitted the lead-singer and founding member’s name.

“You wouldn’t even know my name had it not been for that man,” he replied seriously, “and after the crash I started signing his initials.”

Artimus Pyle Band

I thought to myself what a class-act this man truly was to carry-on the memory of his fallen band-member and how proud I was to meet him.  It was then I relaxed a little bit and started just chatting with him.  I found out how he co-wrote my favorite Skynyrd song, Tuesday’s Gone, and how he was always drawn to Asheville, NC. We chatted about his respect for the philanthropic Asheville-born musician, Warren Haynes, and how he’d played with him here and there.  He spoke of his son, River, and how proud he was of him. I was careful not to bring up the plane crash, though I was so painfully curious about his take on it.  All I knew was that Van Zant and the Gaines members perished, and Artimus survived.  I wanted to know more, and maybe he sensed it, because he went into the story all on his own.”

“You know, after the crash, there was just smoke everywhere,” he began, “and I ran to the barn to get help.”

“I didn’t know you were able to that,”  I replied in awe.

He went on to describe the only things he remembered, and the whirlwind it became.  I could tell some of it was cloudy to him, yet still felt as real as it had over 35 years ago.  My guess is it was cloudy then.

After telling me to remember that money ruins everything, I gave him a hug, noticing an unimagined raw musk about him, and he went on his way.  I rushed home and googled him immediately, seeing what else I could learn.  I discovered when he ran from the plane wreckage to the nearby barn, the farmer’s son actually shot Artimus in the shoulder with an air-rifle because he was startled by his appearance.  I learned he never stopped revering Van Zant and the other members, and had made the legacy of the band his life.  I discovered he’d had ups, and downs, but understood the things that matter in life…, respect and downright allegiance to his band, family, art, and fellow man.  He is yet another jewel tucked in these blue ridge mountains; an ARTimus form in Asheville that we’re forever proud to claim.

Artimus Pyle and Lorna Hollifield January 3, 2014

Artimus Pyle and Lorna Hollifield January 3, 2014

Gnome Crushing

I was a little bit nervous.  I  noticed myself checking my make-up in the rearview mirror, and straightening my clothes obsessively.  I’d waited all week to meet him.  My hour was arriving and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  This man is a legend, and I know everyone wants him.  His origins are argued over, and remain part of his mystery.  However, the mystery isn’t necessarily reason enough to be nervous.  It’s the things he knows, the things he’s seen, and my thirst to know them.  I want him to share with me, and let me in on his secrets (which I think he hides in his beard).  I want him to tell me what he saw in the Bermuda triangle, or where the holy grail rests…I’m sure he’s the only one that knows.  Most of all, I want to capture his spirit, and walk the streets of my own town with him, seeing it through the eyes of a legend.  If he’d only let me loop my arm in his, and go for the ride.  I feel like a schoolgirl, and I know now it’s official…I have a crush on the Travelocity gnome.

Legend says gnomes around the world have been captured time and time again to stand post in boring gardens, entertaining the small lives of the tomato plants.  However, sometime in the 80s a group of good Samaritans, Robin hoods of the gnome world  if you will, decided to take a stand, steal these gnomes, and release them into the wild.  They then travel the world until their true homes are found again.  The Travelocity gnome is no different.  He’s been globe-trotting on his little gnome sojourn since 2005.  He’s been all across America, Europe, and maybe Mars.  However, last week, it was the mini-metropolis of Asheville that whispered to him.  Man, this town must really have something…

I met him on a darkened street corner after barely missing him at Hi-Wire Brewery (where I hear he got a little tipsy).  I was coming to meet him, but wasn’t quick enough, and that gnome, in his little nomadic nature, is like taping pudding to the wall.  He’ll just slip away without warning and slide into unmarked crevices. 

However, like ships in the night we passed briefly again.  I found him stumbling down a sidewalk fresh off the dance floor at Scandals.  He claims he was only there for Zumba lessons, though I wasn’t sure.  However, I didn’t ask many questions, but  just stretched out my arms.  I knew we had but minutes.  That famous portly creature leapt into my yearning embrace, and for a moment he was mine.  I could smell the history on him like a thick French musk.  His face and body had definitely taken a couple licks through the years, and he was wise to things I have no knowledge of yet.  I felt honored to meet him, and perhaps more honored that he’d been drawn like a moth to a flame to this town.  The magnet that is Asheville, NC, composed of quirk, beer, Southern Charm, beer, cultural diversity, beer, and an unparalleled charisma is now part of the patchwork quilt that makes up the adventures of this world-renown gnome.  Now I think the real crush I have is just on Asheville.  After all, Asheville drew the gnome.

Gnomy nose nuzzles

Gnomy nose nuzzles