BOONVILLE — Tourists and area residents will have a great opportunity this Sunday to experience Yadkin Valley wines combined with live music and a classic car show at a mini-wine festival hosted at RagApple Lassie Vineyard. The mini-festivals are a joint effort of the Yadkin River Wine Trail wineries, Cellar 4201, Divine Llama, Flint Hill, RagApple Lassie and Sanders Ridge.
These five wineries have been joining forces for the past several years to offer holiday events and the mini-festivals which give wine lovers a chance to taste and experience several wineries at once. This year the wineries went above and beyond to make the mini-festivals even more special to help boost tourism to the region.
“We wanted to take it up a notch,” said Lenna Hobson of RagApple Lassie Vineyard. “This year each winery was tasked with coming up with something unique that would enlarge the attraction for our audience and enhance attendance.”
Hobson said each of the five wineries has a loyal following that regularly visit and attend the annual mini-festivals, but this year’s event at RagApple Lassie, which will include a classic car show, is sure to attract some new visitors.
The response from area car clubs and classic car enthusiasts amazed Hobson and her staff when they first began floating the idea.
“As it turns out, car show people are very kind and very willing to come to most events and show off their babies, if you will,” Hobson said. “It has taken on a life of its own.”
Tasting Room Manager Morgan Harrison said at least four car clubs, including several Corvette clubs, would be participating.
“The response has been very good,” Harrison said. “We have had people calling all last week and this week about bringing cars here for the show.”
In addition to bringing business to RagApple Lassie and other area wineries, Hobson said that the mini-festivals and the wine industry as a whole can be credited for making the Yadkin Valley a travel destination.
“Tourism is vital to our area and the wineries are the catalyst for the tourism,” Hobson said. “I honor the fact that not everyone is a wine drinker, nor will everyone become a wine drinker, but it’s the fact that we can produce a product, such as wine, and create a destination here in this area that brings untold numbers of people here from the greater Raleigh area, the greater Charlotte area and surrounding states. People off the interstate would never have made a major effort to visit Yadkin County pre-winery.”
Cindy Shore at nearby Sanders Ridge Winery agreed and said that the mini-festivals were a great way to give visitors more bang for their buck.
“People are coming to the region anyway. We have people coming from all over, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, their goal is to try to see as many wineries as possible. When we can put things together like this, it’s almost like a travel agency. It’s a one-stop shop,” Shore said.
Not only do the wineries benefit from area visitors, but other businesses do as well, Hobson said.
“For Yadkin County, or any of the rural counties in the Yadkin Valley area, this is gold because the people are here, they come to sample wines, yes, but they are also looking for places to eat, places to spend the night, they buy gas and they stop at other businesses that are open and look interesting,” she said.
Hobson also said that the beautiful rural scenery and warm friendly people are what keep bringing tourists back.
“People coming in to the Yadkin Valley are not looking for perfection, they’re not looking for something great, grand and glorious. They are looking for an experience and that experience is that they’re treated nicely and they feel welcome,” Hobson said. “They also admire our green fields. I cannot tell you how many people come here and say, ‘it is so beautiful in the Yadkin Valley.’”
A number of area visitors ask Hobson what the “small green plants” are that they see planted in fields along the road and she said it was with “great glee” that she tells them it is soy beans.
“They look at me with huge eyes and say, ‘I drink soy milk every morning and I never knew what it looked like on the ground.’” she said. “And guess what, they are going back to their workplace and telling people about it.”
Word of mouth about the experiences people are having in the Yadkin Valley is what continues to bring more area visitors here, Hobson said.
With excitement already building for this weekend’s car show and mini-festival at RagApple Lassie it is sure to create a buzz for the remaining mini-festivals scheduled at Cellar 4201 and Flint Hill Vineyard and the wine region as a whole.
“It’s going to be a good time with a band and barbecue and wine tastings from five wineries,” said Harrison. Tickets to Sunday’s mini-festival at RagApple Lassie are $20 per person which includes a souvenir Yadkin Valley Wine Trail glass, live music from TC Montana and wine tastings from Cellar 4201, Divine Llama, Flint Hill, RagApple Lassie and Sanders Ridge, plus Classic Cars from all over the state. BBQ plates or sandwiches will be available for purchase. The mini-festival will be held from 12 to 4 p.m. on the lawn at RagApple Lassie, located at 3724 RagApple Lassie Lane in Boonville.
Kitsey E. Burns may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.