By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher © 2011
Part 3 of 3
You read about our romantic getaway in Landrum, SC, at The Red Horse Inn and our brief visit, nearby, to the Campbell Covered Bridge. Another excursion from the inn we highly recommend is a visit and lunch at Victoria Valley Vineyards owned and operated by the Jayne family. It’s just 20 miles away.
Our friend and PR maven Taryn Scher from Greenville, SC, met us here for lunch, pointing out this is an easy getaway from that city, too.
The setting is lovely, reminiscent of a French chateau. The varieties grown and/or sold here are chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, viognier, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, rose and white merlot. On our visit, we learned they’ve sold out of their white merlot, a semi-sweet, and won’t have more until the end of the year. They grow their own grapes buy also buy grapes from North Carolina and Georgia.
Co-owner Vicki Jayne recalls, “The first time I had ever tasted a viognier, I said ‘we’ve got to have this.’ We came back and ordered our viognier vines.”
Wine tastings are $5 and include your choice of five wines from 14 listed (the price does not include two reserves listed). If you’d like to keep the logo glass as a souvenir, it’s just $2.
Fletcher and I chose different wines to taste and took tiny sips from each other’s, so in all, we actually sampled 10 — the joy of sharing, right?
Leading us on our tasting journey was Melanie Wagner, who was delightful. “I do think we try to keep our prices competitive,” she noted when I raved over the $16.95 price tag of my favorite. Fletcher’s top pick came in at an equally affordable $15.95. Shipping is offered via their website.
My tasting choices were Table Rock Rose, a “true rose,” said Melanie; the 2010 Viognier, which I liked so much that I chose a glass of it to accompany lunch and bought two bottles to take home; 2008 Chardonnay made from grapes grown here (Taryn noted: “They do a great chardonnary); 2009 Merlot, a new release; and the 2009 Pulse, their signature red blend. It’s also one of their best sellers.
Fletcher opted for the 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, and definitely picked out the citrus bouquet; the 2008 Silk, a blend of chardonnay and viognier, his favorite; the 2010 Pinot Grigio; and 2006 Syrah.
Taryn’s favorite was Bentley’s Best, which rounded out Fletcher’s list of five and was his second favorite. Its label features, by the way, the resident dog, Bentley.
Be sure and take a good look around because all of the doors, beams, tables and shelving are handmade by Vicki Jayne’s hubby and fellow proprietor, Les — and beautifully made at that. Check out the stairs that lead down to the bottling area.
On arrival, you step into a nice gift section in the open gift shop/tasting room with a circular bar of dark wood. Off to one side is the terrace where deli lunch of sandwiches and salads is served 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, and noon-3 p.m. Sunday. Tours are offered 1-5 p.m. on the hour. And no reservations are needed for the wine tastings. Just show up.
For our post-lunch tour, Vicky Jayne told us more about the family operation, noting she personally picked up rocks and sticks for two years on what’s now vineyard land, because this used to be all forest. “As we cleared it, it got more and more beautiful.” At first the steep land had all the nutrients “draining down the hill.” Now, it’s terraced.
They planted their first vines in 2000 and waited four years to get their first release, so retail sales didn’t really begin until 2005.
“I think we’re the only ones growing and producing vinifera in SC,” she noted. Vinifera are those tight, tiny grapes.
The grapes’ biggest predators are deer, which love the young plants, black bear, and, of course, birds. To help combat the marauders, they play predatory bird calls on CD.
“The black bear really did us in last year,” she recalled. (Pardon this note, but the way she knows it’s black bears is because when they do their ‘business,’ so to speak, the seeds show up there.)
Wine making is a tough business. Before a devastating freeze in 2007, the operation had 115 acres “under vine.” Now they are at 49 and building back up. Before they were selling 3,000 cases a year; now 1,600.
The company distributes to a few small restaurants and definitely ships to customers. So if you stop by and fall in love with something, don’t worry — you will be able to get it at home.
Victoria Valley Vineyards also hosts wine dinners and is a popular wedding site. The Jaynes’ own daughter got married here two years ago.
Cheers to that.
If You’re Going: Victoria Valley Vineyards is located 1360 South Saluda Road, Cleveland, SC 29635; phone 864-878-5307 or 877-612-WINE, or visit www.victoriavalleyvineyards.com. It’s closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The Red Horse Inn is located at 310 N. Campbell Rd., Landrum, SC 29356; call (864) 895-4968 or visit theredhorseinn.com. The inn is also popular for destination weddings and corporate retreats. Near the North Carolina-South Carolina border, it’s easily reached from Asheville, NC, or Greenville/Spartanburg, SC. If you’re visiting in conjunction with Greenville’s Euphoria food, wine and music festival next month, here’s the link to the full lineup: euphoriagreenville.com.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy these:
• Other Luxury Travel Stories by Kathy M. Newbern
• Stories by J.S. Fletcher, International Travel Examiner
• Even more international storiesand reports from this team
Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern and spouse, J.S. Fletcher, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.comand YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.