It’s really the nuances that make each winery in the Yadkin Valley stand out from one another.
That’s because in today’s competitive market it takes more than a strive for greater satisfaction to producing tasty wines. The challenge for an owner of a winery comes with connecting its guest to a sense of belonging, family, and casual, relaxed enjoyment, along with providing a superior tasting product.
For Elkin Creek Winery, the true gratification comes from the pleasure of guests who seek to experience the life that the owners themselves have sought. That life includes great wine, great food and a great location.
“It should all be toasted with great friends, right here at Elkin Creek,” said Louis Jeroslow in an interview for On The Vine. “That was the philosophy of the previous owner, a personal friend of ours named Mark, and we’ve kept with that tradition.”
The Elkin Creek Vineyard was once owned by Mark Greene. Elkin Creek Vineyard was originally created as a labor of love and beginning in 2001 through Mark Greene’s vision, according to the vineyard’s website. After purchasing the century-old mill, Greene and his wife planted the vineyard and built the winery/restaurant with help from a few friends and his children.
Today, the Elkin Creek Winery owners are Louis and Carrie Jeroslow and Nick and Jennifer White. The four have a history and friendship together stretching back to when they met 15 years ago while working for the theater production Blue Man Group.
All four owners live on-premise in the mill that was originally built in 1896 and converted into a residence. The Jeroslows and Whites have designated roles in the business, from maintaining the vineyard and wine production, to event planning, and now greater options for guest accommodations.
“We fell in love with this place years ago,” said Jeroslow. “We knew we wanted to move back east and settle in the region, but we never expected for Mark to sell the vineyard. The property was stumbled upon when Jennifer was seeking the perfect place for her wedding. When Mark called us about a possible sale, we knew this was the perfect destination…it was divine.”
The vineyard is located just outside the main hustle and bustle of Elkin and boasts property that sits on over 40 acres with currently five acres of fruit bearing vines. Elevations and slopes of the property create small micro-climates, thus giving an advantage to Elkin Creek and ensuring that each block of vines reaches its full potential, say its owner.
“And having water that runs through your property helped last year with the two late frosts North Carolina experienced,” said Louis who paused for a moment to reflect on other businesses nearby who may not have fared too well.
The Big Elkin Creek and the Grassy Creek connect into a new waterway that is located directly behind Elkin Creek’s tasting room. “All of the cold air races down to the creek, so we were protected from the frost somewhat,” said Jeroslow.
Time to taste
“It’s after 12, right?” asked Jeroslow. He pointed to two bottles that we just made on Thursday, a red and white.
“I prepared a taste for a sample,” insisted Jeroslow. “This is one of our new white wines we call our soft white. It’s not dry like our Chardonnay, but instead it’s like a late harvest Riesling. It has a little sweetness to it. It’s made from a grape native to North America, a bit more complex. It’s actually going to change flavor to it.
“The process of bottling beats the wine up, molecularly,” continued Jeroslow. “When wine is first bottled, it experiences bottle shock, a process that runs anywhere from at least three weeks to a few months. This wine will recover quickly, being a white and because of it’s characteristics … so that’s going to be in about a month before I make a decision on if I’m going to release it.”
Jeroslow started making wine as a home winemaker about 8 years ago, but it’s always been a lifelong interest, he said. It was a hobby that grew into a need to take microbiology and chemistry classes, thus enhancing his knowledge of wine making. Today, it’s beyond a passion, he admits.
“I started traveling to take classes and workshops such as at University of California, Davis extension program,” stated Jeroslow. “I also travelled here to Elkin Creek to work directly with Mark Greene.”
When asked what tomorrow will bring for the vineyard, Jeroslow said the four are busy with an additional 15 acres waiting for expansion.
“We produce about 750 to 1000 cases a year,” said Jeroslow. All of the bottling and labeling are done on-site. Jeroslow also noted that his vineyard supports local Yadkin Valley vineyards too.
“For us it’s vital to connect our neighbors,” added Jeroslow. “Many of them are vineyards who do not bottle. They only sell their grapes, so purchasing locally helps with flavor and the local economy.”
Jeroslow shifted conversation to discuss what he says is a significant part of making wine in the Yadkin Valley. This region, he says, has a similar climate like Bordeaux, the soil of Tuscany (in the red clay), and the sun exposure of Sicily.
“Try this red, it’s a Cabernet Sauvignon,” Jeroslow suggested. “When we harvest the grapes, I can smell it’s potential during fermentation…getting the wine to the point where it can be bottled takes work, but then the bottle itself takes over and develops the wine over the next year.”
Spend the night, and beyond
A newer feature for the vineyard are four cabins, all situated along Elkin Creek in a secluded area of the property.
“The cabins are an important part of the overall vision of Elkin Creek Vineyard as a destination,” shared Jeroslow. “They were part of our concept from the beginning…the cabins have many creature comforts and modern touches but also provide a full kitchen.”
The idea, according to Jeroslow, is to not only invite guests to enjoy our beautiful location but to also stay a while. They hope visitors will use their ‘home away from home’ as a central point to explore the Yadkin Vally region.
“They should go see the other wonderful wineries in the Yadkin Valley, go enjoy the parks such as Stone Mountain, and go into town to dine and shop,” recommended Jeroslow.
“We are open for wine tastings Thursday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We have some of our home-made foods available most of the time including our fresh artisan sourdough bread, but Sunday is always pizza day.”
That’s their fresh, made-to-order, wood fire, brick oven pizza served up every Sunday and only found at Elkin Creek Winery.