Epicurean Charlotte

Food & Wine Magazine


Experience an Award-winning Wine and Dine Experience at Shelton Vineyards

by Vanessa Infanzon | images courtesy Sam Dean, Bill Russ, and Shelton Vineyards

An easy 90-minute drive up Interstate-77 takes you to Yadkin Valley and the Surry County Wine Trail with more than 15 vineyards to visit, each with a distinct style and atmosphere. Tucked away among fields of green with a view of mountains is Shelton Vineyards, the largest family-owned estate winery in North Carolina.

Shelton Vineyards was the brainchild of brothers Charles and Ed Shelton. Originally from Yadkin Valley, their careers took them to Charlotte for their general contracting company, Shelco. When they purchased a 260-acre dairy farm from a land auction in 1994, they envisioned a vineyard. They built a 33,000-square-foot winery and planted Vitis viniferous grapes or European varietals such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Tannat, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Shelton Vineyards was the 12th winery in the state, and only the second in Yadkin Valley. Today, North Carolina boasts 189 wineries, and the Yadkin Valley is one of the fastest growing wine producing regions in the country, says Christina Clark, vice president of sales at Shelton Vineyards.

This year, Yadkin Valley celebrates 15 years as an American Viticultural Area (AVA), a federal government designated wine-grape growing region. The Shelton brothers were instrumental in obtaining this distinction, as an AVA designation recognizes the distinct soil conditions of a geographical location and allows for the vineyards in the area to include it on its labels.

Award-winning Wines
Since 2001, Shelton Vineyards’ wines have won numerous awards. Most recently, the 2006 Yadkin Valley Port was awarded 90 points by James Suckling and the 2013 Two Five Nine Tannat was awarded 91 points. Bin 17 Chardonnay, Unoaked; Estate Cabernet Franc; and the Yadkin Valley Riesling are most popular with guests.

Shelton Vineyards’ new winemaker, Ethan Brown, was trained through the Surry Community College’s Viticulture and Enology program, a curriculum established with seed money from the Sheltons.

“I think it was important for establishing that regional knowledge for winemaking and grape growing in the area,” Brown says. “The region is growing very quickly, and I’m seeing a lot of people moving in from out of state. This is the destination now to establish a winery. We’re starting to be recognized by potential winery owners and grape growers. Now we are starting to get recognized outside of the state for wine quality too.”

Various wine tours and tastings are offered throughout the week in a spacious atrium. A guided tour with a view of the wine-making process and a tasting of six wines is available every day, on the hour, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours and tastings with Reserve Wines require reservations. For a special treat, reserve the Gazebo for a tasting and a 360-degree view of the vineyards.

On-site Dining
Last year, Shelton Vineyards’ on-site restaurant, Harvest Grill, was rated fourth in USA Today’s Top 10 Best Winery Restaurants. Chef Paul Lange’s farm to table philosophy guides his menu, creating seasonal menu items focused on fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients. Burgers of the week made with Apple Brandy Beef, crab cakes with a lemon marmalade, fin to fork fish and shellfish, and a field to fork option for dinner are always on the menu. The house made yeast rolls come warm straight from the oven. A three-course wine and food pairing menu is also available to guests.

“When I first got here 13 years ago, we didn’t really have the concept of farm to table,” Lange says. “In those 13 years, things have changed so drastically that not only is it the in thing to do, it’s the responsible thing to do.”

In the early years, it wasn’t unusual for Lange to drive around looking for the ingredients he needed for his menu. These days, he procures lettuce and spinach from a nearby hydroponic farm and mushrooms and microgreens from local farms. Cheeses and beef are locally sourced; fish is driven in from the coast. Lange’s most recent find in Asheville is a mustard made by Lusty Monk, and it’s featured in the Artisan Meat and Cheese Board and the Pretzel Crusted Salmon.

Overnight Accommodations
Shelton Vineyards owns and operates an upscale Hampton Inn & Suites about two miles from the winery, complete with its own wine bar (the only one of its kind in a Hampton Inn & Suites), plus, they offer a shuttle to and from the vineyard. Plan your visit during one of the concerts or events at the covered amphitheater. Local and regional bands feature beach, blues, funk, and rock music—an admission cost is associated with some of the shows. Look for British, Corvette, and Mercedes Benz car shows and specialty dinners throughout the year.

Shelton Vineyards
286 Cabernet Lane | Dobson, NC