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Stone Ashe Vineyard creates Old World feel in the Blue Ridge Mountains

A new vineyard brings a touch of the Old World to a 67-acre ridgetop setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Stone Ashe Vineyard opened July 17 with five wines and 13 acres of vines framed by mountain vistas. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the tasting room offer panoramic views of several peaks, including Bearwallow, Sugarloaf and Bald Top mountains.

Owners Craig and Tina Little wanted to replicate the vineyard experience of Bordeaux, France, with steep slopes, a moderate climate and comparable soil conditions. They found their perfect terroir on a 2,700-foot mountain just outside of Tina’s hometown of Hendersonville.

The vineyard consists of nine blocks growing seven grape varietals on various slopes. Vines were cloned from legacy vines in France and carefully planted by the Littles. Varietals are riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot.

“The idea was to take clones that were used to the same climate in which they had grown for a thousand years in Bordeaux and put them in a similar climate here,” Craig says. “We want to educate people on North Carolina wines, showing we can grow quality grapes here for remarkable wine that’s on par with other regions by finding the right site and farming it correctly.”

The vineyard’s name, Stone Ashe, is also tied to the terroir. It comes from the stony ashe soil predominate on the site.

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The Littles are excited their vineyard is the sixth to put down roots in Henderson County’s newly designated Crest of the Blue Ridge American Viticultural Area.

“Having that AVA designation is going to bring more and more prestige to this area,” Craig explains. “The wineries here are making some superior wines and really elevating the process.”

Stone Ashe is currently open Thursday through Sunday offering three white wines, one rosé and one red. The three whites, along with the rosé, come from grapes grown on-site. Winemaker Chris Denesha of plēb winery in Asheville crafted those four wines in collaboration with Craig. The red is a blend from Childress Vineyards in the Yadkin Valley, highlighting N.C. viticulture until estate reds are ready to bottle.

Stone Ashe’s 3,100-square-foot tasting room includes a catering kitchen, bar, covered patio and deck. It is airy and spacious with a 25-foot cathedral ceiling framed with Douglas fir timbers inside and cedar timbers outside. Its modern farmhouse motif and warm decor are the product of Polish + Pop Design of Charleston, S.C.

All state and federal COVID-19 protocols are being followed, including masks for employees and patrons, hand-sanitizer stations, reduced capacity in the tasting room and only pre-packaged snacks available.

Traditional tastings have been replaced by flights, or guests can order wine by the glass or bottle. The intersection of food and wine is another area of emphasis.

“People are welcome to bring a picnic,” Tina says. “We are set up to have food trucks, and we have a catering kitchen for groups and events.”

Long-term plans call for two to three more acres of grapes and a winemaking facility on-site. Craig studied enology at UC Davis and Washington State University and will transition into the winemaking role, while maintaining a close watch on the vineyard. The philosophy will always be to limit human and chemical intervention in the vineyard and the wines.

“We want wines that reflect the terroir,” Craig says. “The more we do to the wine, the more we decrease the terroir and what makes this place unique. The wines will reflect this property.”

For more information, visit www.stoneashevineyards.com.

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