Perched atop a hill overlooking acres of grape vines and the mountains beyond is the tasting room at Stony Knoll Vineyards, located at 1143 Stony Knoll Road in Dobson. The winery, which opened in the fall of 2004, is family owned and operated and part of a North Carolina Century Farm. Winemaker and owner Van Coe said it’s a passion and a journey 16 years in the making.
“Farming and growing things and creating food stuffs for humanity has been in our DNA for decades and decades,” Coe said.
Not only is the property on which the winery is located Coe’s wife’s family farm, a Century Farm, but his own family has a Century Farm as well. Coe said at first they thought the wine industry would be like producing any other crop, something that has long been a part of their family heritage. They quickly learned though, wine takes much more finesse than growing tobacco.
He compared wine making to a Rubik’s cube puzzle. It takes a key to unlock the secrets to crafting that perfect vintage and it doesn’t happen overnight.
“The only way you can do it, is to be in business enough years to take the journey,” Coe said. “You’ve got to be able to take the journey and when you come across the roadblocks, you’ve got to be able to make changes.”
Coe said there’s a spirituality and even superstitions that come into bridging the connection between farming and wine making.
“You really are connected to the forces of nature,” he said.
So many factors from the amount of rain to the fluctuating temperatures during the growing season can affect the grapes and in turn the wine.
“The key too is to be able to enhance with your set of growing conditions here to create a viable world class product,” Coe explained.
In 2014 at Stony Knoll Vineyards they made a number of changes in the vineyard and that has had a positive effect on the product.
“If you can find the key to unlock the challenges, you can create something really nice here,” said Coe.
As they transition into selling wines produced under their new protocols, Coe said they also are preparing to circulate their wines to a wider market. Each bottle now includes a UPC code on the label so when the time is right they can begin selling their wine at shops and restaurants.
Looking back on the 16 years since the first grapes were planted at Stony Knoll, Coe said if he tried to measure their success in numbers he might fall short. But sometimes it isn’t all about the money.
“If you look at the experiences, and the fulfillment of a relationship with human life and plant life, growing something and being a farmer, I’m a billionaire,” he said.
Though at a place of peace when it comes to personal satisfaction with the winery’s success, Coe did say they were at a good point to focus more on the financial success of the business as well.
A new wine collection will be released at Stony Knoll this fall, beginning with the 2014 Master Exquisite Black Oak Stick Cabernet Sauvignon.
“That year we had a lot of less humid growing days so we had a great vintage,” Coe said. “We are really excited about that.”
With new wines that are soon to be released as well as customer favorites still on the tasting menu, the winery also boasts a lovely setting for visitors. An outdoor patio area as well as indoor seating offers a beautiful spot for wine lovers to sip and enjoy the Yadkin Valley area. Stony Knoll is also available for weddings and other private gatherings. Those planning to stay in the area also have the option to stay in the wine lodge, the original homeplace on the farm, located across the street from the vineyard and winery.
For more information on Stony Knoll Vineyards, visit www.stonyknollvineyards.com or call 336-374-5752.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.