Charlotte, NC (WBTV) - Attention connoisseurs! This week's voyage explores the world of wine, racing style. My mother and I took a special trip to Childress Vineyards in Lexington to experience a European escape. The moment you step foot on the property, you feel as if you are visiting a Tuscan villa.
Most know Richard Childress best for his speedway skills, but six years ago his name began generating buzz for a different reason. Winemaker, Mark Friszolowski has a lot to do with it. "Childress is special because Richard has tremendous passion for wine. He's always had a passion for wine," Friszolowski says.
In 2006 Childress Vineyards opened its doors to the public. Their wine has won countless awards since. Wine Enthusiast magazine recently named Childress Vineyards one of the top twenty five tasting rooms in America.
Friszolowski says they offer more than just sweet Carolina varietals. "We make everything from dry chardonnays, merlots, cabernet sauvignons, we do a method champenoise sparkling wine which is the old tradition of drinking champagnes."
My mom and I put them to the test. It was clear that each wine was intentional in its flavor. We were surprised by the rich, European flavors of their wines, grown right here in the Carolinas. Tastings are quite popular with visitors, and they are affordable. They start at just ten dollars. Their top of the line tasting costs just 18 dollars, and it pairs wine with chocolate and cheese. You also walk away with a souvenir cup and canape tray.
With our palettes highly satisfied we headed outside to see where the magic begins. Valerie Schultz,the director of public relations, showed us around. The vines have just sprouted green buds, which will grow into grapes through the summer. If you want to visit during harvest season, take a trip in August.
Until then there are plenty of activities to enjoy, including a free walking trail. They also offer free tours every day. Schultz says they take you behind the scenes. "The tours start inside of the winery. They give you a background on how the winery came to be, and they'll come out here by the vines and that's the process of talking about the grapes and how they grow and then they head down to our wine making facilities, and go over that whole process so it really is very much an educational experience," explained Schultz.
The story of the grapes is very much a story of pride for North Carolina's soil. Even for non drinkers, this escape has much to offer. Friszolowski is convinced they have something for everyone. " For people that don't drink wine... They just haven't found the right wine yet. And if they come here, we will absolutely make sure they find the right wine."
START: Charlotte, NC US
1. Start out going SOUTHWEST on S TRYON ST toward W 4TH ST. (go 0.5 miles)
2. Turn RIGHT onto W HILL ST. (go 0.1 miles)
3. Merge onto I-277 S/US-74 W. (go 0.6 miles)
4. Merge onto I-77 N/US-21 N via EXIT 1C toward STATESVILLE. (go 3.4 miles)
5. Merge onto I-85 N via EXIT 13A toward GREENSBORO. (go 49.0 miles)
6. Merge onto GEORGE S COBLE MEMORIAL HWY/US-52 N via EXIT 87 toward LEXINGTON/WINSTON-SALEM. (go 5.4 miles)
7. Take the US-64 exit, EXIT 89, toward LEXINGTON/MOCKSVILLE. (go 0.3 miles)
8. Turn LEFT onto US-64 W/MOCKSVILLE RD. (go 0.3 miles)
9. Turn RIGHT onto CHILDRESS VINEYARDS RD. (go 0.4 miles)
10. 1000 CHILDRESS VINYARD RD. (go 0.0 miles)
ARRIVE: Childress Vineyards, 1000 Childress Vineyard Rd, Lexington, NC 27295 US
TOTAL ESTIMATED TIME: 1 hour 3 minutes | DISTANCE: 60.01 miles