Summary: A visit to Childress Vineyards is a delightful experience. The opulent facility, with a large indoor fountain, high ceiling, and arched doorways that lead to a wine tasting room will not disappoint visitors. Richard Childress of NASCAR fame and a partner are the founders of Childress Vineyards. The Italian-styled building houses the tasting area and retail store, a restaurant and the winery. Enjoy the beautiful landscaped grounds surrounding the building and the views of well manicured vineyards.
A large staircase leads from the parking area, past a water fountain tastefully decorated with flowers to the front door of a two story Italian-style facility that houses a shop, tasting counter, banquet room, bistro and winery. Visitors can see unique items displayed through the building, many of which were brought back from journeys around the world.
We met Kathleen Watson, the marketing director, in the tasting room and she escorted us through the building pointing out the many features of the building. The banquet room hosts 50 wedding receptions during the year. For some events the door to the bistro is opened for additional room. Farther on, a door leads to a large deck overlooking vineyards, maintained lawns and entertainment areas. The far end of the deck overlooks the crush pad and gives visitors an excellent view.
On a lower level we visited with the winemaker and general manager, Mark Friszolowski, as he was in the process of using a special technique to pump over. Formerly, Mark was the winemaker at Pindar Vineyards on Long Island. On this lower level, there are separate barrel rooms for red and white wine. A special area can be set up for private events on this level. In a hallway outside of the barrel rooms, five-foot statues are set inside alcoves. These statues represent the four seasons.
Richard Childress and his partner, Greg Johns, have poured time, money and passion into this winery. In 2003, vineyards were planted and the winery opened in 2004. According to Kathleen, Richard has a very sophisticated palate. During the winemaking process, Richard tastes wine from the juice through the fermentation and aging. He has also been seen taking morning walks amongst the vines. His car racing career took him to many areas of the world that had vineyards. Eventually he collaborated with Greg and built this magnificent winery.
Currently the winery uses grapes from its own onsite winery and two other nearby vineyards totaling 75 acres. Childress produces 30,000 cases of wine.
Of particular interest is the “Fine Swine Wine.” This wine was created as the answer to a frequently heard question, “Do you have a wine to pair with pork barbeque?” For four years Mark Friszolowski, has produced a wine for the Lexington Barbecue Festival in October. This wine is only available on the release day in October that coincides with the date of the festival. For 2008, the festival will be October 25. The winery sets up a stand in town and sells the “fine swine wine.” People will stand in a long line to purchase the wine that will sell out of the 500 cases well before the end of the day.
Before we left, we had the opportunity to taste several wines including a 2006 Sauvignon Blanc. The aroma had citrus and tropical fruit. The taste was very fruity with different fruits tasted at different times. The crisp finish was citrus giving way to melon. The non-vintage Pinnacle was a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. This translucent red wine had a red fruit aroma. The taste was very fruity and mild. The balanced finish had light tannins. This is a must try red wine for white wine drinkers. The 2005 Signature Meritage, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, was aged in oak for one and a half years. The aroma was of raspberries and blackberries. The taste was crisp and it offered a taste of berries. The crisp finish had light tannins. The 2004 Syrah was aged in oak for 13-14 months. The aroma was of raspberries and chocolate and offered a berry taste. The finish was crisp and fruity with mild tannins.
During the summer months, check out the free outdoor musical performances in the series Music in the Vineyards.
In addition, Childress Vineyards offers two Scupperdine wines, dessert wines and several white wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Chardonnay. No matter what type of wine you enjoy you will find a wine to enjoy when you visit. Visit Childress and tour the facility, taste good wines and enjoy good food in the Bistro, opened daily for lunch and Sunday for brunch. You will be glad you did.
1000 Childress Vineyards Road
Lexington, North Carolina
N 35° 84.244' W080° 28.308'