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From Vine to Wine: 16 Suggestions for a SC Wine Excursion

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 35 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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South Carolina might not be Napa Valley, but there is still a lot to appreciate about the wines issuing from the vineyards and wineries crisscrossing the state. In fact, you might be downright impressed by some. While our native muscadine and scuppernong grapes - sweet, thick-skinned varietals - are traditional sources for many of our wines, the last few decades have seen what was once considered a basement hobby broaden its scope to become an agricultural art form. Not only are passionate vintners producing wines from native grapes and locally grown fruits, many are importing bases of other varietals and processing them in their own wineries using European techniques.  

Whether you lean toward the sweet profile of muscadine wine or the dryer, more complex nuances of say, an Italian-style Sangiovese, a visit to SC vineyards and wineries is an opportunity to get an inside look at these fascinating operations and meet dedicated winemakers. Hear their stories, have a meal, listen to music and learn all about the process of making wine. We have compiled a list of some of the most robust operations to help you plan your SC wine adventure.

But before you grab the car keys, it's important to understand the difference between a vineyard and a winery. It’s simple: A vineyard is where grapes are grown and a winery is where wine is made. Oftentimes, you will find both at the same location. The most important distinction for wine adventurists is the inclusion of a tasting room. Each operation in our list offers tastings for your sampling pleasure. Call ahead for hours of operation (sometimes seasonal), policies, events and more.

Now that you are in the know, start planning your excursion and have fun discovering your new favorite South Carolina wine.

Coastal Picks
La Belle Amie Vineyard, Little River
The Bellamy family has been growing grapes and making wine for almost a century on the site of this former tobacco farm. Home of the “Twisted Sister” label, the vineyard is also a popular outdoor music venue with shady cabanas and decks. Bring your own wine glass for tasting or buy one there. No pets or outside food and drink. 

Carolina Vineyards Winery, North Myrtle Beach
Boardwalk Winery, Myrtle Beach
Established in 1999, this vineyard produces fruits for varietals and sweet fruit-based wines, including merlot, chardonnay, elderberry, peach and blueberry. In 2005, owners Tim and Carrie Walker moved their wine-making operation and tasting rooms from Chester to the coast, opening Carolina Vineyards Winery at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach and Boardwalk Winery at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach.   

Deep Water Vineyard, Wadmalaw Island
This 48-acre winery and vineyard tucked away in the Lowcountry has something for everyone: walking trails, a garden, large pond, winery and gift shop. Wines include those made from the muscadines grown onsite as well as varietals and blends made from California-grown grapes. Picnicking is welcome as are well-behaved, leashed pets. Fun events are slated throughout the year, including the always lively Grape Stomp Festival in August complete with a Lucille Ball look-alike contest.

Coastal Carolina Winery, Myrtle Beach
This is yet another Broadway at the Beach wine stop where you can taste and talk about wine-making techniques with the staff. White, red and sweet wines are offered for sampling and purchase. Wine slushies go down particularly well on hot summer days. The gift shop is brimming with the work of local artists and other interesting souvenirs, too.

Island Winery, Hilton Head Island
Sample barrel-aged reds and crisp whites as well as specialty wines made from Lowcountry fruit. There is outdoor seating on the scenic patio for sipping and lingering. Bring your own food for noshing in the large, pet-friendly picnic area.

Silver Dew Winery, Daufuskie Island
This tiny winery, the first in South Carolina, began operating from the wick house that once serviced the Bloody Point Lighthouse in the late 1800s. Nearly a century later, Arthur “Papy” Burns converted the small shed to make wine from island-grown fruit. Recently, the winery made a comeback and visitors to Daufuskie are invited to schedule a wine tasting and stroll the vineyards where the wine grapes are grown. Bottles are sold in the Bloody Point Lighthouse Museum on the grounds and at the Freeport General Store near the marina.

Inland Picks
Enoree River Vineyards and Winery, Newberry
Richard and Laura LaBarre grow Noble (red), Carlos (white), Herbmont and Lenoir vines, which produce some of the fruit for their luscious wines. They also import juice from Washington and Italy to create some of the wines bottled onsite. Enjoy your tasting from the Upper Room overlooking the vineyard. This vineyard is also the home of the annual Newberry Harvest Festival that showcases and celebrates South Carolina wines and their makers.

Cat's Paw Winery, Rock Hill
Small-batch vino is crafted from well water and fruit juices at this countryside operation named for its owner’s affinity for felines. These are non-headache-inducing wines thanks to production methods that limit additives. Whites, reds, sweet, dry – you’ll find a bit of everything here. Visit the tasting room or enjoy a self-guided tasting on the spacious patio. Popcorn and water are complimentary. Note that this is a 21-and-older winery, so leave the kids at home.

Mercer House Winery, Lexington
One of the few organic, all-natural wineries in the nation, this wine producer grows 50 varieties of native grapes on its 12-acre estate. Each of its five vineyards, named for beloved family and pets, boasts a distinct terroir that is reflected in the winery’s range of offerings. Come to the tasting room and experience the creativity and craftsmanship of this unique winery.

Hyman Vineyards, Conway/Florence
Since 2005, this Conway operation has been growing grapes to make wines sold at their retail site at the Pee Dee State Farmers Market in Florence. The vineyard came to be when the Hyman family opted to replace their tobacco crops with something that offered proven health benefits – enter muscadines. In addition to wines, you’ll find muscadine juice, ciders, honey jams and jellies at their market booth, too.

Upstate Picks
Victoria Valley Vineyards, Table Rock
Nestled in the valley at the foot of Table Rock in Cleveland, this vineyard’s tasting room welcomes novices and connoisseurs alike. Visit the gift shop and stroll the 47-acre, European-inspired vineyard. Take a table on the terrace where a full lunch menu is offered as well as small plates, cheese boards and desserts.

Eagle Mountain Winery & Vineyards, Travelers Rest
This state-of-the-art winery produces world-class wines from cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc grapes grown in its vineyard along with  crushed juice shipped to SC from some of the West Coast's best vineyards. Operating against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this appealing winery features a barrel room and lab that offers wine blending classes. There is also a wine tasting area for food and wine pairing events. The scenic grounds include a sculpture park with a still-expanding collection from Southern sculptors. Wine club memberships are offered, and reservations may be required for events. Please call ahead for details. 

City Scape Winery, Pelzer
In 2015, hobbyist winemakers Josh and Deb Jones took the leap and turned their passion into a rather unique operation. This is the place where wine lovers can book a tasting or make their own wines through a multi-visit process called U Vint that yields roughly 30 bottles. The vineyard is a friendly place where visitors strolling the grounds are greeted by the maintenance crew – a clutch of grass-munching goats – as well as the vineyard mascot, Pinot the pig. Kids, pets and picnics welcome.

Lazy Bear Winery, Easley
Since 2015, this winery operating in the scenic foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains has produced wines from fruits harvested onsite and acquired through partnerships with Greenville-area growers. Blueberries, strawberries, grapes, peaches, raspberries and blackberries find expression here through the wine-making process and are ready for you to sample in the tasting room.

Old Rock Quarry Winery, Enoree
This is the home of handcrafted small-batch wines produced in a laid-back country setting that invites lingering. The tasting room accommodates 16 samplers at a time, and there’s a spacious, covered outdoor area with fire pits to cozy up to on chilly nights. Live music is scheduled monthly with food trucks, so plan accordingly.

Wellborn Winery Travelers Rest
Tony Beninati and Deb Sikora, co-owners of this small vineyard and award-winning winery, refer to themselves as “garagistes,” a French word for small-scale craft vintners. While they welcome visitors, their main motivation for making wine is an effort in self-satisfaction: They simply love producing wines using the time-honored techniques of their Italian forebears. Red, white, rosé – you’ll find them all here.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 35 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.