If you’re dreaming of picturesque mountains, beautiful vineyards, and a perfect glass of vino, you don’t have to go all the way to the west coast. The Appalachian High Country is home to some of the best wineries, and just a short drive away from Graystone Lodge.

The High Country was recognized as an American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 2016, which is defined as a grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features. The area meets the requirement that 85 percent or more of the wine is from grapes grown within the boundaries of the AVA. It is characterized by higher elevation vineyards with soil comparable to the vineyards out west including Napa, California and even Europe. The growing conditions in the High Country area combined with warm days and cool evenings result in truly delicious wines.

The vineyards near Graystone Lodge are known for their exquisite wines and unique experiences that sets them apart from others. If “Rosé all day” is your love language or you prefer to indulge on a smooth red, these three vineyards and wineries are sure to please your palette.

Banner Elk Winery

Located near downtown Banner Elk in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Banner Elk Winery was established in 2006 as the first winery in Avery and Watauga counties.

Winemaker Dick Wolfe harvests his wines with fresh grapes grown on-property, as well as locally sourced grapes from other nearby vineyards. Wine selections include reds – Cabernet Sauvignon, Marechal Foch, Banner Elk Red, High Country Rosé, whites – Banner Elk White, Seyval Blanc, Vino Francesco Chianti White, and two dessert wines. Its Banner Elk Red won a gold medal at the International Easter Wine Competition in Sonoma, California and it was named the best red hybrid at the North Carolina State Fair in 2011.

Banner Elk Winery also produces a special wine with fresh-picked blueberries from its blueberry farm, and an ice wine created with high-elevation grapes that are harvested while partially frozen for an intense, unique flavor.

The winery is open for tastings every Tuesday – Sunday. Tours are available on Friday – Sunday from May – October.

Grandfather Vineyard and Winery

Nestled on more than 10 acres, Grandfather Vineyard and Winery is a beautiful destination for a romantic date, a girlfriends’ retreat or even a family day. From its 5-acre vineyard to the flowing Watauga River, visitors enjoy the scenic views, peaceful atmosphere, and many sitting areas including picnic tables and riverside seating.

The vines were planted in 2003 alongside a hill with higher elevation which yields a more distinct, unmatched flavor profile for its grapes. Its estate hillside vineyard features many grape varieties, from French American hybrid grapes that produce its Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin, and more, and the middle is mainly Pinot Gris and Chardonnays.

It sources 55 percent of its grapes from North Carolina and its bordering states, and nearly 45 percent of its grapes are sourced from California and Oregon. They’ve discovered that not all grapes can survive the High Country climate so sourcing from out west provides bolder red flavors and crisper whites.

Hours of operation are Monday – Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Grandfather Vineyard and Winery also offers live music and food trucks too; be sure to check the website for hours.

Linville Falls Winery

Linville Falls Winery is a 40-acre family-owned and operated vineyard and winery located on mile marker #317 of the Blue Ridge Parkway and situated in a fertile valley. It’s named after the spectacular Linville Falls and opened in 2012.

The vineyards feature an abundance of grape varieties like Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Petit Verdot, Noiret, Marquette, Marechal Foch, Rosé, and more.

The vineyard features many wine experiences including a tasting at the bar, a seated wine tasting, educational walking tours, tastings, hiking tour and more!

The winery also hosts live music, food trucks, fun events like wine pairing dinners, barn dances, yoga, and its annual grape stomp. Visitors can also enjoy blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, heirloom apples, pumpkins, corn, and its Red Barn Tree Farm to pick and choose a Christmas tree.

Business hours are 12 – 6 p.m. daily but be sure to check the website. Reservations are not required.


You really can’t go wrong with any of these incredible wineries. Don’t forget to pick up a bottle (or two!) to enjoy around the outdoor fire at Graystone Lodge!

Let’s toast to these one-of-a-kind wineries and plan an escape at Graystone Lodge! After all, life is too short to drink bad wine!