La Belle Amie Vineyard
If you know me at all, you know there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be at an event called “Super Wine Saturday”, which is exactly where you could find Karen and I (and our good friend Kayla) this past weekend. Our local vineyard, La Belle Amie, offers numerous festivals throughout the year—ranging from an early spring Blues and Jazz Fest to a Holiday Spirits Bonfire in November. La Belle Amie is open year round, and offers wine tastings daily (Monday- Saturday).
As part of the event for the day, La Belle Amie offered a vineyard tour with Vicky, the fun and quirky owner. Vicky explained how the vineyard came to be—her family had grown up on the land (then a tobacco farm), and as Vicky’s mom got older she wanted to continue to live on her land. Vicky moved from Texas in 1993 to help care for her mom, and after seeing wild grapes growing in the area, decided she would open a vineyard, despite having zero knowledge of growing or caring for grapes let alone making wine!
Vicky and her vineyard went through myriad hard times their first few years. Five hurricanes came through the area, destroying much of the vineyard. With the help of North Carolina State’s Cooperative Extension and Viticulture (the study of the science and production of grapes) Program, Vicky was able to make her vineyard a success. Vicky does own a winery, but it is located about an hour inland (as to avoid hurricanes… a wise decision on her part!).
Vicky also taught us about ourselves. I learned that I’m an oenophile (a person who loves wines… c’mon!), and that I should have majored in Oenology (the study of winemaking… an actual major!). We also learned Vicky’s philosophy about wine—it should be enjoyed! Vicky believes wine tasting should never be haughty or snobbish, but instead all you need to know about wine is whether you like it or not. Her laid-back attitude is reflected in La Belle Amie’s brand, Twisted Sisters. As Vicky says, you either are one or you know someone who is one.
La Belle Amie also has a delightful gift shop where you are sure to find the perfect gift—from home décor to soaps, wines, and more! I especially enjoyed the slushy kits, which enabled you to make any wine a delicious slushy treat for a hot summer day. We were able to sample the strawberry and blueberry pomegranate flavors during our wine tasting.
Speaking of the wine tasting, this was (obviously) my favorite part of the day! The three of us each tried different samples and shared with each other for optimum tasting pleasure. The woman who did our tasting was incredibly knowledgeable and fun! She also snuck us a few extra tastings, which we greatly appreciated. The wines were all tasty and the names were fun (“Bless her Heart” “Bitchin’ Babes” and “Beachin’ Babes” were a few of my favorites), but we all eventually decided to buy a bottle of a sweet white wine called Cabana Boy to share while enjoying some live music and food on the main lawn of the vineyard. Although we were able to bring our own picnic fruit and cheese and crackers, hotdogs and hamburgers were available for purchase, as well as wine by the glass.
This particular event was free, but festival admission is usually $8 (or $5 if you bring two canned goods, which are donated to local food shelters). Although I’ve yet to attend an actual festival at La Belle Amie, I’m certain it is well worth the money. As mentioned, wine tastings can be done at any time, and cost $3 for 6 tastings or add $2 to keep the glass. La Belle Amie also celebrates “Wine Wednesdays”, where they offer half price wine tastings all day, and $2.75 includes tasting, tax, and a wine glass! Regardless of when you decide to visit, you will not be disappointed!