It’s a love story. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, start a business and a family.
But it’s another kind of love story, too. A love for wine, and for the mountains of North Carolina.
It was in those mountains that Steve and Sally Tatum met and married almost 40 years ago. The duo opened furniture and interior design business Tatum Galleries in Banner Elk and planted their own seeds of community in the town. Years later, in 2003, they planted a new kind of seed on a large parcel of property behind their home: vineyards.
Steve’s interest in wine inspired the idea, and the vines took root on their sprawling, mountainous lands. What began as a hobby for the family soon turned into a viable business opportunity. Son Dylan pursued winemaking at Surry Community College (the only program in Enology in the state), and equipped with a bevy of winemaking knowledge, the family decided to open Grandfather Vineyards. Within a few years it became not only the first producing winery in Watauga County pressing world-class wines, but also a destination for locals and tourists alike to relax and unwind with a glass of their favorite vino.
The name hails from the sight that defines their property. Situated along the Watauga River with spectacular views of Grandfather Mountain, the vineyard and its tasting room sit in the shadow of one of the state’s most beloved landmarks.
The wines that come from the rich mountain soil of Grandfather Vineyards are multifarious in varietal and flavor, from dry whites and reds to semi-sweets and dessert wines, including perennially popular favorites Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. All of the grapes are crushed, pressed, fermented and bottled on property, and poured by knowledgeable staff whose passion is also for the grape-made nectar.
The tasting room, as one might expect, offers tasting flights, as well as wines by the glass and bottle, perfect for a relaxing afternoon amongst the grapes. The winery also hosts live music every Sunday from 1 to 4 pm from May through October, a boisterous shindig that draws visitors from around the county and even as far as our own Charlotte (see the schedule for August on page 27!).
The love story continues at Grandfather Vineyards. Dylan and Tasting Room Manager Nicole married this summer, bringing a new generation to the tale. And love for the wine continues too, seeping into the local community and the new wine country of our mountains.