At an elevation of 4,800 feet, Banner Elk Winery’s upper acreage is the highest vineyard in the eastern United States. The idea of growing grapes at such a high altitude deterred many; all except for Richard Wolfe, Angelo Accetturo, and Pete and Michelle Gerukos, co-owners of the Banner Elk Winery. Now, the mountainsides in Avery and Watauga counties feature 32 vineyards sprouting cold-hardy grapes.

Planting the Seed

Wolfe, an engineer by trade, first came to the area in 2001 to act as director of the newly formed applied science and research program at Appalachian State. As one of his first projects, he sought to teach area farmers how to grow grapes instead of tobacco, a dying industry. The North Carolina Department of Agriculture awarded him a grant to plant a test vineyard at a high altitude – the very first of its kind in the area.

With his co-founders, Wolfe opened the Banner Elk Winery in 2006. Today, Wolfe’s grapes have been earning him accolades, including medals from a 2013 international eastern wine competition in California, a NextGen wine competition in 2012, and even recognition at the state fair.

Although the winery boasts impressive and complex vinos, the atmosphere is all but stuffy. Hikers, bikers, locals and tourists alike flock to the Banner Elk Winery because they enjoy the “casualness.” A massive stone fire pit beckons patrons outdoors, as does the stocked trout pond fed by a nearby creek.

The Villa

But sipping on a full-bodied bottle of wine isn’t the only draw of the Banner Elk Winery. The Villa is a luxury, Tuscan-inspired retreat tucked away on the winery’s property. Seven suites are available for rent, each featuring either king or queen beds, private jacuzzi tubs and breathtaking mountain views.

Banner Elk Winery is also a covetable wedding venue. The rustic Enchanted Barn features rough-hewn wood set off by glittering accessories. But the Grassy Knoll is an idyllic setting for an outdoor affair. The space is beautifully backdropped by a blueberry orchard, scenic vineyard and expansive mountain vista.

A visit to the Banner Elk Winery is a great way to spend the day when you are renting a beautiful vacation home in Banner Elk North Carolina.  A cozy cabin, luxury condo or mountain top lodge is a great way to take in all that Banner Elk has to offer.  You can rent a private estate on large acreage or in a private, gated community.