It can take years for new vineyards to come into their own, and that’s what’s going on in North Carolina. The state’s wines are improving by leaps and bounds, but the evolution’s ongoing.
Only in N.C. will you find a bovine-themed winery with vines planted in former tobacco fields! RagApple Lassie is named after a prize-winning pet calf that belonged to the owner when he was a 4H youth.
The great thing about the winery is that it’s laid-back and approachable — perfect for those who might not know much about wine-tasting or find it intimidating. The fermenting tanks, gift shop, tasting area and Back Door Cafe are all housed inside a large facility cleverly designed to look like a traditional farm building from the outside. The wine cellar is underneath and accessed through a silo-like structure.
Before lunch I tasted one white and three reds. My favorites were a sweet-yet-acidic “Zen Sational Zin” created kind of by mistake (and which I now wish I’d bought a bottle of; it’s not available on the website) and Kaleidoscope Red, a nice, drinkable blend of five grapes. (I did bring a bottle of that one home with me.)
The cafe menu had a couple of vegetarian sandwiches I would have been completely happy with, but my server eagerly offered to adapt any of the menu’s offerings. She ended up concocting a tasty toasted sandwich of tomato basil cheese, onion jam, Granny Smith apple slides, tomatoes and a little bit of blue cheese spread served on a seeded ciabatta roll. (And she didn’t charge me for the accompanying glass of white wine, since there was no meat on my sandwich. A nice gesture.) A finely chopped broccoli slaw accompanied.
I enjoyed one of the best desserts I’ve had in awhile at a bridal luncheon at Greensboro’s charmingly old-fashioned, grand and clubby O’Henry Hotel. It was comprised of layers of semi-frozen Irish cream-based goodness and chocolate cake (as you can see in the photo of the dissected treat). Chocolate toffee bits were pressed all around the outside, a drizzle of chocolate sauce lay underneath and the whole thing was topped with a dollop of whipped cream and white chocolate shavings.
I wanted so badly to finish the entire thing, but my full stomach wouldn’t allow it. (It looks deceptively small in the photos.) So I did what I could, and shamelessly ate all around the outside, leaving only a small middle core.
More wine — and champagne, and local beer — were used to toast the happy couple at their beautiful outdoor nuptials held on a lovely farm near Bethania. Wedding food was a fresh, local fall buffet provided by one of the bride and groom’s favorite restaurants, Josephine’s Bistro. Oysters, deviled eggs, grilled veggies, corn muffins, shrimp skewers, BBQ and more. My personal favorites were an assertive (thanks to coarse mustard) potato salad with some green beans thrown in for crunch and color, and miniature pecan and chocolate chess pies. (The friends who married demonstrated good taste in spouses and dessert, sharing bites of a special wedding pie instead of cake. Bravo for pie!)