Artists, makers and pioneers have long called the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina home. Inspired by the area’s natural beauty, people come here to create. This creative energy makes Hendersonville, NC, a great fit for the growing craft-beverage movement. Cideries, wineries and breweries across Henderson County produce small-batch beverages prized for their quality and originality. The Cheers! Trail connects 16 craft-beverage destinations — 10 breweries, three wineries, two cideries and one meadery — encouraging visitors to plan their own tasting itineraries.
Henderson County is a longtime leader in apple production, growing more apples than any county in North Carolina. The abundance of apples draws cidermakers looking to turn fresh juice into crisp hard cider. Virginia-based Bold Rock Hard Cider, the largest craft cidery in the country, opened a second production facility here when it outgrew its fruit supply at the original location. The industrial-chic tasting room serves a variety of cider styles, from traditional Carolina Apple to a hopped cider with IPA characteristics and seasonal flavors, such as cranberry, pumpkin and peach. It recently introduced hard seltzer, using fresh apple juice to create a light, bubbly beverage.
Across the county, Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider makes dry European-style cider from fruit trees imported from France. Visitors sample cider in a 1940s-era barn turned tasting room with a back deck overlooking an orchard. Don’t miss the brandy made from distilled apple juice.
Hendersonville’s climate — warm days with cool mountain nights — paired with its soil and water quality make the region a prime location for growing grapes. This past summer, Hendersonville received federal designation as an American Viticultural Area. Officially known as Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County, the AVA contains three wineries.
Each spring, cideries and wineries come together to celebrate apple blossom season in the orchards and bud break in the vineyards with Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend, April 16-19, 2020. More than 30 events — including special dinners, tasting events, live music, festivals and tours — encourage people to visit the producers, see how cider and wine are made, and sample different varieties.
The weekend opens with a Cider, Wine & Dine Celebration at The Horse Shoe Farm. Watch the sun set over the riverside property; sample wine, cider and other libations from area producers; and indulge in delectable food pairings. Beginning Friday, Point Lookout Vineyards and World’s Edge Meadery, located high atop Point Lookout Mountain, host a three-day Celtic Celebration complete with kilts, bagpipes, Irish food and music. Burntshirt Vineyards features winery tours and tastings all weekend. And Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards closes out the festivities with music, sangria and barbecue for Sunday, Fun Day.
In addition to cider and wine, the Cheers! Trail’s 10 breweries represent a variety of styles and tasting room environments. When Sierra Nevada chose Henderson County for its East Coast headquarters, it spared little expense when creating this Taj Mahal for beer lovers. Craft-beer aficionados flock to the expansive brewhouse for tours, followed by flights and tapas in the beer garden.
A once neglected area of downtown Hendersonville, the historic Seventh Avenue district, has seen a recent renaissance with several craft breweries choosing to rehab old buildings and locate their brewhouses and tasting rooms in the area. Southern Appalachian Brewery, the first in Henderson County, is a longtime staple that serves straightforward styles, such as pilsners, amber ales and stouts. German-inspired Guidon Brewing is a nod to the owner’s time in the U.S. Army and his wife’s home country.
Make plans to hop on the Cheers! Trail by visiting www.CheersTrail.org or calling (800) 828-4244.