Saturday, September 27, 2008

Benny Parsons Rendezvous Ridge - Methanol and Ethanol *DO* Mix

Drinking and driving *never* mix and is definitely not condoned. It is both dangerous and against the law. But with a designated driver on a cold, windy rainy day, we enjoyed a delightful two hours at Rendezvous Ridge, a winery (the ethanol) and racing museum (the methanol) born to late NASCAR and ARCA champion Benny Parsons. This writer is probably one of a handful of Americans who have been both a NASCAR fan *and* a wine aficionado since the mid-60s.

On a weather day fit only for ducks, three of us wound our way from Pilot Mountain in Surry County across NC 268 through Level Cross and Elkin, into Wilkes County through Ronda and Roaring River, back onto U.S. 421 east past Wilkesboro to a right onto Boiling Springs Road. Winding up the mountains to a right onto Boone Trail, and a left onto Parsonville Road, we finally arrived at Benny Parsons Road and turned up the gravel drive through the young vineyard to Terri Parsons' beautiful home atop Rendezvous Ridge, with the tasting room to the right of the parking area on the lower level (Terri's private residence on the upper floors is not open to the public).

Tasting room manager Denise Kent greeted us and we spent an hour talking about racing history, the growth of NASCAR and the current state of affairs (not all for the best, in my humble opinion). After a long racing career when stock cars were really stock (souped up by the driver) and years as a commentator for racing, Benny saw the beginning growth of wine and wineries in the Yadkin Valley. With over 50 acres of family land, he began planning a vineyard and winery on the family property. Sadly, he did not live to see that dream come to fruition. He passed away in January 2007, just months before the tasting room opened. The old house in which he was born and raised is up a holler from the tasting room, along with Benny's gravesite.

An hour into our tour, we were joined by Terri Parsons for our post-tour wine tasting and chat. Until the vines mature, Rendezvous Ridge is using grapes sourced from within the Yadkin Valley AVA, and the wine is made and bottled at a cooperating winery by one of the area's noted winemakers. Rendezvous Ridge currently produces five wines: a 2006 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay; a 2006 BP Blush; a 2006 Riesling; a 2006 Merlot; and a 2006 Cabernet Franc. All but the BP Blush are 100% of the named grape; the BP Blush is a light semi-sweet blend of Muscadine and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chardonnay - While barrel fermented, this chard was not at all overly oaked, and had the right amount of creamy finish that did not conceal the fruit forward taste.

BP Blush - This near-sellout blush (3% residual suger) is a semi-sweet that appeals to a lot of southerners, without being as cloyingly sweet as some North Carolina muscadine-based blush wines. Chilled on a warm humid day, this would be a perfect quaffer.

Riesling - A nice combination of fruit with enough acidity to complement, and a lovely spicy finish. We purchased a bottle of this white.

Merlot - Lots of zip in this merlot, with fruit and soft and pleasant wood hints.

Cabernet Franc - A rich full-bodied version of this exceptional grape, one of North Carolina's most popular varietals for the terroir. Very smooth with a good combination of fruits and tannin. We also purchased a bottle of this red.

Prices for the two big reds (the Merlot and the Cab Franc) approach $25/bottle. The Chard approaches $23, the Riesling $19 and the BP Blush $15. Discounts given at the case purchase level. Admission and museum tour combined with tasting and souvenier glass is $10.

The combination of warm hospitality and history by Denise and Terri made for a delightful ray of sunshine on a weather-wise very gloomy day. Further information (including hours and online orders) is available at www.RendezvousRidge.com

1 comment:

Yadkin Valley Weddings Forum said...

Sounds like a great place for wedding parties! Will have to check it out. Thanks