Did you know that North Carolina is home to a gazillion wineries? Well, maybe not exactly a gazillion, but at least 106 of them according to this website. I was vaguely aware that NC produced wine because a couple of years ago I visited both a wine festival in Yadkin Valley and the Blue Ridge Wine Festival with groups of friends. But, there is a world of difference between visiting the actual winery and fighting the crowds to see different wineries represented under a huge tent during the aftermath of a tornado or shuffling from tent to tent on a dusty baseball field in the blazing hot sun.
The Boy Toy has introduced me to spending fun, leisurely afternoons at area wineries. My first visit was during the Easter holiday weekend when I went to an egg hunt (remember these cupcakes?)at Treehouse Vineyards located in Monroe, NC. We have been back several times (thanks to Charlotte Dealsaver) to enjoy a tasting, a brief tour, and their frozen wine slushies (especially enjoyed those!) There is even a treehouse overlooking the vineyards that you can rent for the night or for a hour or two while you enjoy your wine.
Since my interest was peaked, I purchased a Living Social coupon for Divine Llama Vineyards and the Boy Toy and I spent an afternoon looking at the llamas from the confines of our car windows thanks to severe allergy issues and chilly weather. We discovered there were several other wineries nearby, so we ventured on to Sanders Ridge, which has a great restaurant and is set in a gorgeous wooded area. We had missed the restaurant hours for lunch and were too hungry to wait until the dinner hours, so we noshed on their homemade pimento cheese and crackers. And so began my love for the combination of pimento cheese, wineries and spending an afternoon with the Boy Toy. We also hit RagApple Lassie which also has a restaurant and a cute gift shop and had a small group of musicians performing at the time.
An outing for my birthday took us to Rocky River Vineyards and Stony Mountain Vineyards, which was my favorite of this trip because of the absolutely gorgeous view of the mountains. It was here that we indulged in pimento cheese once again and where we had our first photo taken together. Aren't we cute?!
We have another winery tour planned later on that includes a chauffeured ride to four different wineries in the Hendersonville area, appetizers, BBQ lunch and chocolate! Maybe we'll visit all 106 wineries on the map before all is said and done!
Whether you're picnicing at wineries or your local park, this pimiento cheese makes a great snack to take along. It's really better a few days after you make it, so plan ahead and give the flavors time to fully meld. The only substitutions I made was to use banana peppers in place of the pepperoncinis and jarred horseradish because that's what I had on hand. Enjoy!
Food Shark's Pimiento Cheese
February 2012 Southern Living
Makes 6 cups
- 1 (12-oz.) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and finely chopped
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped jarred pepperoncini salad peppers
- 1 tablespoon liquid from pepperoncini salad peppers
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh horseradish
- 4 cups (16 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 3 cups (12 oz.) shredded Havarti cheese
- Garnish: pepperoncini salad peppers and fresh dill
Stir together roasted red bell peppers, mayonnaise, red onion, parsley, 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill, Dijon mustard, pepperoncini salad peppers, liquid from pepperoncini salad peppers, and horseradish. Gently stir in Cheddar cheese and Havarti cheese until well blended. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Garnish, if desired.