Despite facing inclement weather and a soggy lawn, and despite stepping into an occasional puddle of water, guests attending the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival didn’t let the lack of sunny skies damper their mood.
Some even preferred the rainy drizzle and mostly overcast skies.
“I was here last year,” said Sarah Johnson, visitingfrom Ohio. “This year I came with four of my friends. I told them to prepare for heat because when the sun beats here, it can creep up on you. I have my bottle of sunscreen. Want some?”
“They forgot to call Mother Nature and give her a ticket, ” said Will Jones from Greensboro. “Personally, I like when the skies are overcast. Wineries get to spend more time with their customers. You can ask questions, get answers, and not feel as if someone is constantly over your shoulder.”
Jones was shuttled into the festival with his wife after staying in the Jonesville Comfort Inn. YVEDDI provided the round-trip transportation to and from area hotels that had guests in town for the festival.
Festival officials say the festival has been very fortunate over the last decade with little to no rain. Final ticket sales at the gate were not available, but the chamber usually makes such numbers transparent at a later date.
Though the crowds were lower, they were steady throughout the day.
“Certain things can’t be controlled, like the skies, but you’re going to find an amazing festival, and we’re going to be busy,” said Dr. Randy Bledsoe, chairman of the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Watch the sales tent. Sales will boom.”
Practically the entire day, Bledsoe was lifting boxes of wine glasses, greeting guests, never standing idle. He kept his eyes on the sales tent, a central location where runners would transport cases of wine purchased by guests for pick-up upon departure.
Held at Elkin Park, the 12th annual festival was organized by the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce with the presenting sponsor being the Yadkin Valley Bank.
2013 was a first test for the chamber’s interim president, Misty Matthews, since the recent departure of its former president, Laurette Leagon, who took a position with a larger chamber.
Matthews was observed greeting event volunteers and providing last-minute tips on what to expect prior to the gate opening. Depending on how vital the volunteers’s responsibility was, Matthews would take extra time to ensure the volunteer understood the role.
“Make sure that you check everyone’s identification,” she instructed most volunteers. Though many volunteers were familiar with the festival from prior years, new volunteers were given a crash course on the festival layout.
“After you check everything and band them, hand each person who has a drinking wristband with a glass and give them a brochure,” said Matthews.
After the compliance check-in, guests had the option of completing a form that qualified them to receive a free case of wine for entering a sponsored raffle.
The entire check-in process was handled in under five minutes for most ticket holders. Guests with advanced tickets breezed into the festival, as they had a separate line.
As guests walked past the registration table, the pathway continued to an open field where 27 wineries were present.
When asked if he was worried about the skies opening up, Louis Jeroslow of Elkin Creek Winery said that it comes with the territory and skies might be the limit.
“Of course you hope it’s not a wash out, but you carry on and hope for the best,” he said. “I’m actually excited and am looking forward to meeting so many people and sharing the products we have.”
Beyond the winery section was the grand stage with music provided by Natty Bo Duo, Porch Dog Revival, Blues DeVille, and L Shape Lot. Guests had the option to dance on the dance floor that was provided by the festival, but the slippery conditions did impede at times.
Food was available by 13 Bones, 3 Little Birds, Blue Ridge Ice Cream, Dogs on the Run, Heaven Scent, Sherri’s Crab Cakes, Snack Wagon, and Steak Boys.
“Sherri’s probably did the best,” said Jill Hanson, who was in from South Carolina. “Not only were the crab cakes packed and stacked, but for only $8 the food went perfectly with my glass of wine I purchased at Herrara Vineyards.”
“I liked the bacon and mac and cheese by 3 Little Birds,” said Jill’s husband Ben. “Lots of good stuff over here this year, but I’d like to see a bit more of a selection.”
Crafts were sold by Artistic Inspirations, BeadJeweled Designs, Bryan Daum Wine Barrel Furniture, Catamount Specialties, Creative Reclamation Gifts, Geographic Jewels & Crystals, Heritage Homestead, Paige Nance, Paparazzi Accessories, Pardue Pottery, Perfectly Posh, Slice of Heaven Bakery, Southern Chic Boutique, Soyworx, Tastefully Simple, and Walkabout Hats.
Participating wineries were Brandon Hills, Brushy Mountain, Carolina Heritage, Cellar 4201, Chatham Hill, Divine Llama, Dobbins Creek, Elkin Creek, Flint Hill, Grassy Creek, Hanover Park, Herrera, Hutton, Junius Lindsay, Laurel Gray, McRitchie, Native Vines, Old North State, RagApple Lassie, Sanders Ridge, Shadow Springs, Shelton, Slightly Askew, Stony Knoll, Surry Cellars, Weathervane, Westbend, and Windsor Run Cellars.
Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 336-835-1513 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.