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!
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:
We live in the technological age where everything is cutting edge and fast paced. Everything we do seems to be a part of some virtual quilt, with squares made of software, chips, and other small metal things I don’t understand. Sometimes I long for a purity, a breath in of a simpler time. I want to go to a place that still smells like the sweat on a farmers brow, or fresh dust from a hand saw. I want to be part of nature…kind of. Who am I kidding? I’m a generation X-er. Where can I get just a small taste?
My husband actually found that place for me in one his best romantic gestures yet…a horse and carriage ride through downtown Asheville. I was in awe when I saw the quaint carriage pull up beside me, led by the beautiful horse, Gypsy Gold. They’d just put the Christmas lights out downtown, and the air was just crisp enough to be comfortably cozy. I could hear the faint heartbeat of the drum circle in the distance, but was more romanticized by the sax player on the corner cranking out his bluesy rendition of “Winter Wonderland.”
When the horseman helped me on board, my husband handed me a rose and wrapped me in a blanket. I felt like Cinderella being swept away for a romantic evening, and could feel the other women on the street looking my way. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it.
As we took off, I took note of the antiquated clip-clop of Gypsy’s shoes against the pavement. This only grew more charming when he pranced over the cobblestone on Wall Street. I could smell his horsey musk, but not too much, and could hear the gentle creaking of the wooden carriage. However, the mixed aromas of Asheville restaurants permeating into the evening air reminded me I was still in our artsy civilization. I was viewing these 19th and early 20th century buildings from the transportation they were first seen from, getting a taste of what once was. However, I noted the modern hustle and bustle they were now pregnant with…oh what a yummy juxtaposition our Asheville is.
The three quarters of an hour spent on the horse was perfect. It was cozy, romantic, historical, and yet the perfect ambassador of modern-day Asheville. It’s a must-see attraction for locals and tourists alike. Sometimes experiencing old and new together is the best way to do it. This tour is a home-run, and reflective of the adorable horse’s name. This tour is simply gold…nice, slow, easy, gold.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pulled up to 265 Charlotte Street this past Friday night. I knew a little bit about the building, a little bit about the event, and an even littler bit about the hosting organization. I blushingly admit I was skeptical about the “Diamond Ball.” I was coming in as an outsider to a soirée thrown by a very reputable league, sponsored by a patriarchal business that has perhaps the strongest back bone in Asheville, even surviving the Great Depression. The Junior League of Asheville was founded in 1925, and Wick and Greene Jewelers in 1926. The two have been leaders in the community, often rubbing elbows, and taking charitable journeys together ever since. I knew I was entering a world of great successes Friday night, but also a world of strong community presences that reach back decades. Truth be told, I was nervous. However, I’m always looking for a reason to discover…and to wear a pretty dress, of course, so I went.
The writer in me took in the atmosphere first: the smells, the sounds, the ambiance. I got the warm fuzzies immediately. My high heel shoes clicked delightfully against the hardwoods that I knew had experienced history itself traipsing all over them. I could tell already that this was a building that knew things. The Manor Inn served as an upscale resort in the early twentieth century during Asheville’s wellness heyday. Naturally, dwarfed in size by the nearby Grove Park Inn, this building had much to prove…which it did. Architects from across the country added bits of flavor to the structure that ultimately took on a tudoresque and colonial revivalist feel. Surrounding cottages followed suit, and so did Asheville. Buildings all over downtown would idolize such architectural tastes and make for a beautiful “lost generation” stomping ground.
I felt like I opened the front door to this magical place Friday night and became whisked right into that roaring era that no one can seem to forget. I was surrounded by newsboy hats, flapper’s dresses, sequined headbands, and vibrant bow ties. I could hear big band music in the back, but with a fiddle player touting a specific style that reminded me I was in The South indeed. A genuinely-dressed flapper carried the sought after single-carat, 15,000 dollar diamond around for all to admire (donated to be raffled by Wick and Greene Jewelers). It took about fourteen seconds for me to realize these women could throw a par-tay.
I’m a huge advocate of the idea of “work hard and play hard”. I think people who give such large amounts of their lives and energies to charity and voluntarism should know how to have a ball, and do so with the community who supports them. I just wasn’t sold yet. I wanted to know how I would be received in this prestigious group, and I wanted to get to know these women on a more personal level. I was by no means trying to hold them under a microscope, yet human nature left me slightly guilty of doing so.
I set out to meet Keri Wilson, the Asheville chapter’s president. I thought I would have to ask around and seek her out. I pictured her to be surrounded by important people, finding it difficult to get away. However, I would soon find out that the bubbly brunette who ushered me in with a smile not even an Oscar winner could fake would turn out to be her. I’d never gotten such a warm greeting. She was eager to welcome me in personally, as well as the askasheville organization. She directed me where to find food and beverages, without forgetting to give Wick and Greene jewelers a chorus of praise for all they’d done. She was the first representation of the Junior League I’d ever encountered and the impression was a breath of fresh air. I wanted to meet more of these women.
A group of J.L. members with the diamond courtesy of Wick and Greene Jewelers (Keri Wilson, president on far left)
After mingling a bit I came across J.L. member, Melissa Kledis. This charismatic woman had a huge energy about her that lured me in quickly. After talking for a few minutes I learned that this Edward Jones advisor, school volunteer, wife, and mother of three was one of the co-chairs of the event. I had trouble imagining how such an incredibly busy woman had so much stamina left in her, but I realized after talking with her it was because she believed in every single thing she did. In that ten to fifteen minutes we talked, she spoke passionately about her job, her children, her wonderful husband, the terrific family she had married into (who introduced her to the league), and the tremendous opportunities to serve her community she would not have had without the Junior League. This woman’s busy schedule truly was her reward, and I could see her wearing it as plainly as the feathers in her hair. This woman felt empowered by her efforts, but was focused most on empowering others.
Melissa Kledis and her husband.
By the end of the night I sat thinking in a beautiful wing-backed chair by the door. I could feel the air conditioning getting fresh with my leg from the antiquated vent beneath me. I noted the air conditioner had a certain smell, like the one in the house I grew up in, which was coincidentally was built circa 1920. I felt so at ease now, with the skepticism erased, and a sense of community embracing me. I’d had a magical night escaping to my favorite era, but the bigger roar came from within the passions of the incredible women I had the pleasure of meeting. The Junior League’s Mission Statement reads, ” “The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.” I found it to be more than accurate.
I will gladly support The Junior League of Asheville in any way I can. Their current missions have focused on helping those falling below the poverty line, which in today’s economy is far too many. Most days it is people in need that these women care about becoming important to. They have been working closely with the Homeward Bound project to put an end to homelessness in the Asheville area. They have also been cooperating with the ABCCM and Children First organizations. When the community supports the Junior League at fundraisers like the Diamond Ball they are really supporting the faces they see everyday, and making far-reaching contributions to those who need it most. These are the fruits of the grander roar these women create every day.
I was irritated Friday night. I hadn’t been feeling the best, had just blown a detox I vowed to finish, and didn’t feel like going out. However, I’d promised a good musician friend of mine I’d come see his band play at Wild Wing. Really, I’d been wanting to go hear him again so I could sing his praises from the rooftops. He’s quite talented, and Asheville will never stop seeing him celebrated in writing as far as I’m concerned. However, this is not about him, but about the band that was setting up when I got there.
I’d called ahead to make sure I’d get a table nice and close to the stage. I brought my husband and a couple friends along, ordered my rum and diet coke (as if the diet would somehow off-set the amount of damage I was about to do). I started scanning the room for my friend, but didn’t see him. Instead I spotted a guitar player I didn’t recognize suiting up on a stage I felt didn’t belong to him. I had a bad feeling, and decided to inquire.
I marched all 5 feet of myself up to the stage, knowing full well what an obnoxiously sassy mood I was in and asked, “Umm– where’s Justin Burrell?”
“Who?” He countered in a tone so nice I was forced to reexamine mine.
“I’m a writer and I’m supposed to see my friend’s band tonight.”
“Oh, well, we’re the band Contagious. I know Justin, and this is normally his spot, but the schedule got changed. It’s my birthday. I’m sorry. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.”
I smiled and exchanged some sort of pleasantries, secretly livid my plan was suddenly changed. I’m a bit “type A” and I could feel the anger sharks swimming…I started praying it wouldn’t be a screamer band who thought they were legitimate rock ‘n roll. I didn’t realize until later how judgmental I was quickly becoming.
I went back to my table, deciding to give them the benefit of the doubt. The lead singer walked out. I liked the way he was dressed, noticing immediately his resemblance to Chris Daughtry. However this guy was sporting a snap hat, and a little less stockiness than the Daughtry. He looked the part, but I needed to check the pipes.
The man I had first accosted and learned is Chad Robinson started to run his hands across the strings while I’m secretly begging from the inside for him to make that guitar speak to me. I noticed immediately how his face changed when he began to play, and he wasn’t gonna just smack at it. This instrument was about to become his wife, and he knew how to play her. I recognized the tune, and he was doing it justice.
Contagious began their rendition of The Black Crows, Hard to Handle. The music was good, and it was time for the vocalist to make his mark. He came in powerfully, and I noticed my head start to move a little bit. I couldn’t wait for the chorus. It would be the tell-all. If he could bring the grit, maybe even growl a little bit in true Chris Robinson (not to be confused with Chad) fashion I’d be sold. Then here it came…
“hey little thing let me light your candle, ’cause mama I’m sure hard to handle now, yes I am.”
I literally had to wipe the dirt off of me. Marc Stump had made a believer out of me, and left me scoffing at myself for being so put off earlier. Like he sang in the first line of the song, he’d proven to be “the man on the scene.”
Contagious went on to play covers from the last few decades, enticing everyone from baby boozers to baby boomers to hit the dance floor. I may have even obliged myself at one point…
I learned a couple things this past Friday night. First of all, I shouldn’t make snap judgments no matter how inconvenienced I feel, and second of all, it’s Wild Wing in Asheville. They know what they’re doing. There will always be a great band, playing great covers and originals alike, ready to get people off their seats. That’s probably why when I look around I see different ages, different backgrounds, and different styles mingling together. They are dancing on the same floor to the same beat, blonde hair or blue hair, and it’s what Asheville is all about.
I got my feel of rock n’ roll, dancing, and good time with good friends. Thank you, Contagious. It turns out, you made my night, and a whole lot of others too. You represent our fine city the way it’s meant to be: a little old, a little new, and of course, with a little bit of dirt on it.