Summary: Shelton Vineyards is a delightful winery to visit. The landscaping is lovely and picnic tables are available for visitors. The enthusiasm of the staff will increase your enjoyment of your visit. Enjoy a tour and a wine tasting. Make time to visit the Harvest Grill Restaurant.
The approach to Shelton Vineyards is dramatic and by the time we reached the tasting room, we felt as if we were in wine country. We were not to be disappointed. The stone entrance way opens to a paved driveway with a sign “Slow Grapes Growing.” Vineyards and vintage-type streetlights along the extended driveway add to high expectations. Close to the tasting room and winery, two ponds and landscaping add to the ambience. Take time to walk the grounds and view the vineyards and landscaping.
The tasting room is delightful. The tasting counter is located at the back of the large room and juts out into the room like a peninsula. Wine and giftware are available for visitors to browse and consider purchasing.
Before the rolling hills were covered with vineyards, the land had been a dairy farm. Today the winery property consists of 400 acres with 200 acres under vine. Shelton Vineyards is the largest family-owned vineyards on the Eastern Seaboard. The soil in the vineyards is loamy–clay. Large amounts of mica helps the vineyards have good drainage.
Currently the vineyards are home to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Malbec, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Tannat, and Viognier. Red grapes are picked at only two to two and a half tons per acre. Wind machines are used in the vineyard to help with potential frost. According to George Denka, Jr., Shelton’s president, the soil and climate are similar to Burgundy. They are “still in the discovery stage” trying to experiment to see what grows best in the area. For the most part, the winery uses only their own grapes. On occasion when they need to source grapes outside of the estate, they prefer purchasing the grapes as close to home as possible.
We toured the winery with George beginning with a long hallway with artifacts on the walls. At the end of the hallway, a monitor shows the winemaking process. A large glass display case at the end of another passageway shows historical artifacts of the Shelton family. Ed and Charlie Shelton grew up in nearby Mt. Airy where their father was a barber. Mt. Airy is also where Andy Griffith grew up and the Sheltons’ father cut Andy’s hair. Ed and Charlie Shelton were very involved in the construction business and eventually decided to put their talents into a winery and vineyard. The result is a magnificent building and vineyards that remind one of wine country.
Soon we went to the barrel room for Chardonnay. At this time, there were four rows of barrels. Each row of barrels was a Chardonnay produced with a different yeast. Before the wine is bottled, the wines will be blended and the resulting Chardonnay will be more complex.
Back in the tasting room, we began our tasting with the Blanc de Blanc 2005. This was the first sparkling wine made at Shelton. The sparkling wine had a slight apple taste and aroma. It was crisp and cleansing. Madison Lee, a blend of Chardonnay and Riesling, resulted in an aroma and taste of apple with a crisp and cleansing finish. The Estate Chardonnay 2006 offered an aroma of apple with a bit of oak. The taste was of apple and smooth. The finish was crisp with a citrus taste. The Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2007 had a grapefruit aroma and taste. Again, this wine was smooth and had a crisp, grapefruit finish. Estate Cabernet Franc 2005 offered a black fruit, peppery and spice aroma. The taste was smooth with blackberries. The crisp finish had some tannins. Family Reserve Chardonnay 2005 was produced in 100 percent Hungarian oak. The aroma was oak and vanilla. The taste was smooth with oak, butterscotch and apple. The crisp finish had oak notes yielding to fruit.
As we tasted wines, George said, “Every wine should have a beginning, middle and end.” To help consumers, Shelton created a unique chart on the back label. The Shelton Vineyards Winometer has a scale for body and a scale for sweetness. At a glance a consumer can readily tell the body and a wine’s sweetness or dryness.
Shelton Vineyards focuses on environmentally friendly measures including adding bluebird houses to encourage bluebirds to nest. Bluebirds help control insects in the vineyards. They use recycled metals for the line posts. Grape skins and seeds are composted for use in the vineyards. Green areas are provided near streams for wildlife.
Schedule enough time when you plan your visit to Shelton Vineyards. Enjoy the landscape, tour and tasting wines. Shelton Vineyards has a restaurant within walking distance of the winery. Consider a visit to the Harvest Grill. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. The patio overlooks vineyards and a kitchen garden.
Shelton Vineyards & Harvest Grill Restaurant
286 Cabernet Lane
Dobson, North Carolina
GPS N 96° 36.452' W080° 76.744'