A Favorite, a Newcomer, and a NativeWith the cooler-than-average summer, area bars and bottle shops began stocking fall flavors earlier this year.Rob Duckworth opened the original Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse in Mooresville in 2004. Today, there are three additional locations: Park Road in Charlotte, Ballantyne, and Huntersville. Beverage manager Larry Suggs oversees about 300 taps for the four locations and all Duckworth’s beer events, including Mooresville’s Oktoberfest on October 5.This past August, Suggs was the first customer for Lake Norman Brewing Company, also located in Mooresville. Mike and Andy Prascak, a father-and-son team, decided to open a brewery built on what they call lake culture. Their first beers reflect their branding decision: Outboard Amber, Dockside Blonde and Wakeboard Wheat. The Prascaks plan to open their taproom in December.Another newcomer to Mooresville is Ultimate Ales, which opened in June. The shop may be new, but owner Mark Moore is a Mooresville native. He stocks about 300 beers and keeps six on tap. He hopes the place will become an after-work gathering spot.
Authenticity in CorneliusIn Cornelius, residents have gathered at Galway Hooker pub for more than 10 years. In addition to the Lake Norman Beerfest that Galway Hooker sponsors in September, the pub also plans to hold an Oktoberfest celebration. Owners Chris Boukedes and John Bisson take pride in the pub’s authenticity. “You’ve been to Irish pubs where they paint the walls green, put up 15 TVs and call themselves an Irish sports bar,” Boukedes says. “We want you to feel the soul of a place.” Boukedes is also passionate about the 25 beers Galway Hooker offers on draft. One local brewery in the rotation is Ass Clown Brewing Company, located less than five miles away. “I wanted a name you can’t forget,” says Matt Glidden, owner of Ass Clown. He started the brewery in April 2011. Many of his flavored beers sound exotic: chocolate pumpkin, jalapeno pumpkin, buttered apple pie. But Glidden often sources those flavors from local farmers.
Options Flow in DavidsonSome people are hesitant to buy a beer with a strange name, so places like Davidson Beverage Company, located on Davidson’s Main Street, offer tastings to expand people’s palates. If the 330 beers owner John Baker stocks seem daunting, check his website for tasting dates and a preview of what’s on tap.Less than a half-mile down the street at Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse, Jason Tognarina and his bar manager go through rigorous taste tests to determine what they serve on their 24-tap beer tower. “It’s the centerpiece of the restaurant,” says Tognarina, the managing partner at Flatiron. He reserves three taps for seasonal selections. When fall arrives, Tognarina says, customers look for darker beers with warm, spicy flavors.
Burke County to Buffalo CreekBut beer drinkers aren’t the only ones craving a taste of fall. Although pumpkin wine isn’t a trend yet (never say never), local wineries offer their own seasonal selections.Lake James Cellars in Glen Alpine, about an hour west of Lake Norman, released its barbera wine in late August. Tasting room manager Alex Fowler describes it as a classic, Italian red. He and his father, mother and brother run the winery out of an old textile mill building. They named several of their wines after local Burke County landmarks, such as Linville Mist for the Linville River and Brown Mountain White, a play on the Brown Mountain Lights legend.About 15 minutes down the road, newcomer Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery is celebrating its first fall with an open tasting room. Owners Ed Wisnieski and Jennifer Foulides traded white-collar New York jobs for a chance to start something of their own in Morganton. They now have about five acres of grapevines and a small-scale winemaking operation. Guests can sample wine at the tasting room’s custom-made bar or on the patio overlooking the South Mountains. On Saturdays, Silver Fork offers live music, and on Halloween, it will hold its first costume party.South of Morganton and about an hour and 15 minutes from Lake Norman, Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard and Winery in Fallston offers wagon rides during the fall. A trip to Napa and Sonoma, Calif., inspired owners Charles and Ann Edwards to start their own winery. They chose the name “Buffalo Creek” after the creek on their property. But they had to amend it when they learned a winery in Missouri already claimed the name. “I said, ‘We’ll never be in Missouri,’” Ann says. “But the federal people said, ‘That doesn’t matter.’” They added “Baker,” Ann’s maiden name, to honor her family who’s owned this farmland for more than 100 years.
Respecting Their RootsAt Davesté Vineyards in Troutman, owners Dave and Ester DeFehr combine wine and art. Each week a group of artists meets on the property. Their work hangs in the tasting room and adorns the label on each bottle of wine. The winery, which produced its first vintage in 2006, is the first winery in Iredell County and is located near the intersection of interstates 40 and 77.About 50 miles up I-77 in the Yadkin Valley, RagApple Lassie Vineyards pays tribute to its rural roots. Owner Frank W. Hobson Jr. is the third generation to farm these 500 acres. He and his wife, Lenna, planted their first grapes in April 2000. On October 19, the Hobsons will hold their annual low-country boil. For about $45, guests enjoy a seafood feast and two glasses of wine. When the Hobsons constructed their winery, they partnered with the School of Architecture at UNC-Charlotte. The students created a design similar to an old farm building with a silo. “Our request was we wanted something that looks like it belongs in Yadkin County,” Lenna says. “We wanted to honor the farming heritage.”Located only 30 minutes away from RagApple Lassie, Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda reflects a different heritage. Owner Jay Raffaldini’s family is Italian, and Raffaldini stays true to that culture with Italian wines served in a Tuscan-villa-style tasting room. This fall, Raffaldini Vineyards celebrates the grape crop with a Harvest Festival on October 12 and 13. Guests will enjoy complimentary wine samples both days and a farmers market on Sunday.
Upping the ElevationIn the High Country, Banner Elk Winery marks the changing seasons with live music during the 36th-annual Wooly Worm Festival weekend October 19 and 20. The winery is located on a 20-acre farm that grew blueberries in the 1970s. Every year Banner Elk Winery produces a special-release blueberry wine, which comes out in November.Nearby Grandfather Vineyard and Winery, also in Banner Elk, is located along the Watauga River. Many of its wine labels show the namesake Grandfather Mountain profile. Like several North Carolina wineries, it’s a family business. Dylan Tatum, son of owners Steve and Sally Tatum, studied viticulture and enology at Surry Community College and business at Appalachian State University. He now makes 16 different wines.One of those varieties is an ice wine, made from grapes frozen on the vine. It’s sweet. Good with dessert. But it’s also difficult to make. The longer the grapes hang on the vine, the more vulnerable they become. Last year, the Tatums lost all the ice-wine grapes to 75-mile-per-hour winds.“You’re never guaranteed grapes,” Tatum says. And he’s right. No farmer is guaranteed a harvest, of grapes or grains or pumpkins. So when October arrives, it’s important to grab a glass and toast what the harvest does provide.
Duckworth’s Grill & Taphouse560 River HighwayMooresville, NC 28117(704) 799-2881duckworthsgrillandbar.comRob Duckworth: email@example.com, (704) 906-6105Larry Suggs: firstname.lastname@example.org, (704) 574-4461
Lake Norman Brewing Companylakenormanbrewingcompany.comAndy Prascak: email@example.com, (704) 929-6256
Ultimate Ales134-C Mooresville Commons WayMooresville, NC 28117(704) 664-2537ultimateales.comMark Moore: firstname.lastname@example.org
Galway Hooker17044 Kenton DriveCornelius, NC 28031(704) 895-1782galwayhookerpub.comChris Boukedes: email@example.com, (704) 995-7775
Ass Clown Brewing Company10620 Bailey Road, Suite E & FCornelius, NC 28031(704) 995-7767assclownbrewery.comMatt Glidden: firstname.lastname@example.org
Davidson Beverage Company442 South Main Street, Suite 100Davidson, NC 28036(704) 255-6232davidsonbeverage.com
Lake James Cellars204 East Main Street, Highway 70Glen Alpine, NC 28628(828) 584-4551lakejamescellars.com
Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery5000 Patton RoadMorganton, NC 28655(828) 391-8783silverforkwinery.comJennifer Foulides: email@example.com, (347) 739-2052
Davasté Vineyards155 Lytton Farm RoadTroutman, NC 28166(704) 528-3882daveste.com
RagApple Lassie Vineyards3724 RagApple Lassie LaneBoonville, NC 27011(336) 367-6000ragapplelassie.comLenna Hobson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Raffaldini Vineyards450 Groce RoadRonda, NC 28670(336) 835-9463raffaldini.comThomas Salley: email@example.com
Banner Elk Winery60 Deer Run LaneBanner Elk, NC 28604(828) 898-9090bannerelkwinery.com
Grandfather Vineyard and Winery225 Vineyard LaneBanner Elk, NC 28604(828) 963-2400grandfathervineyard.comSteve Tatum: (828) 265-9270
Baker Buffalo Creek Vineyard & Winery3521 Fallston-Waco RoadLawndale, NC 28090(704) 538-9927bakerbuffalocreek.com