What I Love About – RayLen and Cloer Family Vineyards

I haven’t written a “What I love about” post in a while and I figured after two straight weekends of visiting NC wineries, it was only fitting my next post be dedicated to NC wine.

I consider myself a “wine aficionado” at least that’s what I say on my Twitter bio anyway.  I’m definitely not a connoiseur of fine wines as I have yet to reach that status.  BUT, I do enjoy a good wine, the kind that makes me say, “Ooooh – I like that!”

Main Building at RayLen Vineyards

Main Building at RayLen Vineyards, Mocksville NC

In the last couple of weeks, I have had a chance to visit two North Carolina wineries – one an easy two-hour drive from the Triangle and one local: RayLen Vineyards of Mocksville and Cloer Family Vineyards of Apex.  Both visits were worth the trip!

Grapes on the Vine at RayLen

Grapes ready for harvest at RayLen Vineyards

RayLen was a halfway stop between the Triangle and Asheville, North Carolina, where my relatives were visiting for a few days.  On a warm Saturday afternoon, I hopped in my car for the two-hour trek west on I-40 past Greensboro and Winston-Salem to the small town of Mocksville.  RayLen Vineyards is located just a few miles from I-40 and as a matter of fact, you can see the highway from one vantage point at the top of the hill on the Vineyard.

Upon turning into the long drive and just over the first little hill, there’s an immediate rush of incredible awe as you take in the surrounding Vineyard.  Rows and rows of vines everywhere as you wind down to the entrance to the main building.  On a beautiful day and when the grapes have yet to be harvested, the view is indescribable.

The store at RayLen Vineyards

Me getting ready to taste the RayLen wines

First, we participated in a tasting.  Only two of us went through the “Complete Flight” so that we could taste all they had to offer.  The other two we were with were content to taste the sweet wines.  From there, we toured the facility and then proceeded to purchase a bottle to drink while sitting out on the porch enjoying the view for the remainder of our stay.

I’m not much for white wines but on a warm day, I do like a nice chilled Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay.  The 2008 Pinot that RayLen has to offer was my favorite.  It was dry with a hint of pineapple and melon flavors but yet it was smooth enough to enjoy a full sip (or two).

For the reds, I enjoyed the 2007 Shiraz and the 2008 Category 5.  Again, the Shiraz went down nice and smoooth with a hint of wild berry while the Category 5 Cabernet blend was intensely smooth.  We ended up purchasing their chilled Pale Red for our visit on the porch.  Couldn’t complain about that one either.  It was dry yet fruity and not too fruity.  Perfect for a warm day.

This past weekend, I hit up newly opened (as of 2010) Cloer Family Vineyards in Apex.  Nestled on a true country road off Highway 64 West, Cloer Family Vineyards greets you as if you’re meant to be there.  Though a small winery (as they are so new) the “old red barn” feel makes you want to pull up a hay bale and drink a glass of wine; two images that don’t quite connect but in this case they do.

Cloer Family Vineyards Main Building

Cloer Family Vineyards Tasting Room

Cloer has only four wines to taste currently, all of which are made from the Muscadine grape.  I’m not much for the Muscadine wines.  I tend to find most of them to be too fruity.  BUT, I enjoyed a taste of all four and ended up walking away with a glass of the Carlos as I sat on the patio facing the trees where on occasion a cow or two passed by. (Yes, I said “a cow or two”.)

The Carlos was a perfectly chilled slightly fruity white wine, though it wasn’t so fruity that I couldn’t sip it.  As a matter of fact, I had no trouble finishing off the glass under those trees!

Cloer Family Vineyards Vines

I also walked among the vines taking pictures and enjoying the landscape in general.  I was really glad I took the time to stop in.  As they continue to grow, I see all kinds of opportunities for the use of their outdoor space and I can’t wait to see what kind of wines they produce in the next couple of years as they harvest and barrel more of their own grapes.

Now that I’m on an NC wine kick, I need to start planning my next trip!

2 Responses to “What I Love About – RayLen and Cloer Family Vineyards”
  1. Thanks for your great comments about RayLen. We’re thrilled that you enjoyed your visit and truly appreciate you blogging about us, as well. We hope that you’ll return to us soon.

    • lasullivan says:

      You’re welcome! Since my visit, I’ve recommended your Winery to a couple of other folks in passing too. I definitely plan to come back for another visit. 🙂

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