Sunday, January 2, 2011

Great wine a stone's throw away

In our state with its grape-friendly soil and enterprising oenologists, we're lucky to have so many wineries to choose from when planning a daytrip. And there are certain things that make a winery stand out in the ever-increasing crowd. Sometimes it's the scenic location, the cozy decor, the quality of its Riesling, or the tray full of dark chocolate chips free for the taking. But for me, it's usually the presence of an animal on the premises. A muddied Great Pyrenees dog at Linganore Winery in Maryland, the legendary black labs of Chateau Morrisette in Virginia, and Noah the Bengal cat at Stonefield Cellars Winery.

California native Robert Wurz and his wife, Natalie, founded Stonefield Cellars over three years ago in Stokesdale. It's a small but picturesque winery located along Highway 68 that offers a large selection, from the standard Chardonnay to the unique Dread Pirate Robert's Bloody Red Wine. Visitors can taste 7 wines for $7 but on this particular day, my mother and I stuck to samples of their Traminette and Riesling (so popular, the staff says, that customers buy it by the case). Both were sweet, light and perfect for sipping after supper. We were also lucky enough to stop in while some mulled wine was simmering behind the counter. Its spicy warmth was the perfect beverage for a chilly Carolina afternoon. Three bottles came home with us, and we made sure to say goodbye to Noah as he lounged in a chair on the patio.

For more information, visit or call (336) 644-9908. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to help you find a new favorite from their award-winning wines, and Noah will be waiting for you with a welcoming purr.