The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Lost in the Mountains

Or originally, just lost in Greensboro. If you're using the (reputedly never-fail) directions to Foggy Ridge Cidery from the back of their brochure, take the via Winston-Salem route. Getting lost in the Blue Ridge mountains of southern Virginia may have added as much time to the trip as our downtown Greensboro drive-around, but that diversion was significantly less annoying. I recommend traveling with talented baked goods producers - I find it adds greatly to the enjoyment of long hours on the highway. For this trip the passenger seat was manned by April McGreger, Farmer's Daughter Brand, who made the whole day go by like it lasted for an hour. She told stories about her Mississippi (similar to my Mississippi) and talked about traditional American music, she brought along a large box of pickled green tomatoes and fried apple pies.

After 3+ hours of roads that became increasingly winding and narrow we were able to restock our fried apple pie stockpile while getting reoriented at a white cinder block restaurant called Rhudy's, an intensely local place that seemed like it was teetering on the edge of the mountainside. The weather was glorious, a ridiculously beautiful day of sun and white puffy clouds and sporadic rain that simply provided justification to take refuge and eat.

Diane Flynt gave us an informative tour of her spotless, no-nonsense cidery, which was informative and a good way to stretch the legs. But cider was only a small part of why we were in rural southern Virginia. Diane claimed to have spotted ramps on (or near) her property, and we were all fired up for some ramp hunting! Ramps are an amazing food to forage, an easy-to-spot oniony plant that grows near streams and in lower patches of hillsides. Ms. Flynt navigated us across a stream that had been made fast and a little scary by recent torrential rains, and then down a steep slope to thousands of unmolested ramps. We were in free-food paradise. Except for the mud. And menacing clouds and spotty rain. Anyway, we found a good quiet spot to pick ramps. My euro-style man purse was overflowing with aromatic veg by our return trip.

After an awesome late lunch of lamb stew and asparagus from Diane's garden, it was time to hit the road. On the road back to Danville I thought I spied Confederate 3CUPS: luckily for our trademark a NASCAR aware friend of mine from Alabama pointed out the 3 in the middle of that battle flag was for Dale Earnhardt Sr., not Wine, Coffee, and Tea. I am really out of touch with motor sports. Car snacks for the return trip were less inspirational, pork crackins and Grape and Orange Nehi. We all have weaknesses....

A big thank you to April for tolerating (and only occasionally flinching during) my madman driving around hair-pin turns and over mountains. Diane Flynt will be with us for a Foggy Ridge Cider Social on May 28th. She's great fun to be around, and makes some serious cider.


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