Having lived in Winston-Salem for over two years, I had heard locals rave about Childress Vineyards and was encouraged to visit many times, but I had never experienced its greatness for myself. One weekend, I bit the bullet and booked an early lunch at the Bistro in the Pavilion, the vineyard’s onsite eatery, not knowing quite what was in store.
Opened in 2004 by NASCAR legend and hall of fame member Richard Childress, a native to the greater Triad area, Lexington-based Childress Vineyards has excelled at producing award winning wines to wine lovers and NASCAR fans alike. Inspired by his past experience in visiting wineries and vineyards in Sonoma, CA, alongside his friend and fellow NASCAR phenom Dale Earnhardt, Richard’s goal in opening Childress Vineyards was to bring a bit of Sonoma’s wine country home to North Carolina.
Almost immediately upon my arrival, I was taken aback by the vineyard grounds’ serene beauty. At the Bistro, I ordered a trusty glass of Cellar Select Sauvignon Blanc to get the day started. Although most experienced wine drinkers would likely pair a heartier red wine with their steak, my untrained palette took quite nicely to the combination of a crisp white with a petite filet of beef – medium rare, of course.
After finishing my meal, I perused the gourmet goods and charming collectibles in the gift shop. Fortunately for me, Childress Vineyards added a daily Seasonal Sips Wine Tasting to its list of amenities in early summer. Since it was a warm, sunny day, I was enticed by the new Sun-Kissed fruit wines on the menu and opted for the peach blend, which was the perfect fruity refresher I needed as I relaxed at an outdoor table overlooking the vineyard.
Although Childress Vineyards attracts many NASCAR fans, its customer demographic extends beyond racing and wine enthusiasts. Due to its central location, visitors traveling north and south, or from the mountains to the coast, stop in along their journey to tour the facility. Brides and grooms looking to book a picturesque wedding venue flock to reserve a date at Childress Vineyards, some as early as three years in advance. The vineyard is able to accommodate groups of all sizes with three different tastings offered daily. Small-group top tier tasters can enjoy an elevated Luxe Wine Tasting experience in the Victory Lounge, complete with a souvenir wine glass and the expertise of Childress wine specialists. Independent visitors can grab a wine flight and taste four of Childress Vineyards’ unique blends at their leisure.
As fall approaches, many believe cooler weather calls for earthier red wines as opposed to whites. Feeling a bit daring? The vineyard introduced its specialty Devil’s Tribute wine two years ago, with a whopping ALC of 15.9%. This dry red blend is aged in whiskey barrels and surprises sippers with a taste of fire whiskey on the back end. If you’re looking to go against the grain and choose an autumn white over red, Childress’s award-winning Reserve Sauvignon Blanc also packs a punch with an ALC of 14.2%. After all, the team at Childress Vineyards doesn’t believe in conventional wine rules, and encourages experienced and novice wine drinkers to follow their heart’s desire.
If you’re looking for something on the sweeter side, Childress offers eight different flavors of wine slushies, along with specialty fruit, muscadine, and sangria blends. Had I not already enjoyed two glasses of wine before noon, I would have gladly purchased a mimosa flight – leaving me with the perfect excuse to visit again soon.
Interested in touring Childress Vineyards or booking an event? Visit the website at www.childressvineyards.com to view operating hours, book a reservation at the Bistro, or shop for wine, gift baskets, and other products online. To stay up-to-date on the latest news and events, subscribe to the Vineyard’s newsletter, check out the venue’s Facebook page, and follow @childresswines on Instagram.