Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2017 - 47
Far left:: Fall leaf color explodes on the lawn of the Montgomery Museum
and Lewis Miller Regional Arts Center in Christiansburg, Virginia.
Top left: Festivals are a big fall draw to Sinkland Farms of Riner, Virginia.
Bottom left: A new blacksmith shop has been added at the Historic Smithfield Plantation of Blacksburg, Virginia.
Above: Grandfather Mountain provides grand views in the High Country of
Stealing away for a romantic weekend, my wife and I head for the High
Country of North Carolina: our favorite go-to destination for a guaranteed good time. We love to see what's
new but appreciate tradition-even
our own in Blowing Rock, like dining on the delights of the Storie
Street Grill (828-295-7075), serving
pecan-crusted mountain trout and
tempura-battered asparagus fries.
We check into the Green Park
Inn (828-414-9230). Known as "The
Legendary Grand Dame of the High
Country," this Blowing Rock hotel
was built in 1891 and retains an antique ambiance. We both loved the
biscuits at breakfast; and I relished
the vibe of hearing a piano playing
in the lobby.
Still, the desk clerk brushed away
my inquiry about whether something supernatural may linger from
long-ago. Who knows? Famous
figures have, indeed, slept inside
the Green Park Inn's walls: Her-
bert Hoover, Annie Oakley, Calvin
Coolidge. It's said that author Margaret Mitchell penned part of "Gone
with the Wind" here.
"Everybody thinks the Green Park
Inn is haunted, I guess, because it's so
old," suggests Krystyl Harris, the music festival coordinator at The Blowing Rock (828-295-7111), an attraction with a grand view, lying within
walking distance of the hotel.
At mid-day, we take a brewery
tour with Micki Reed at the Blowing Rock Ale House (828-414-9600).
And, in the brewery's restaurant, I
savor a succulent duck breast sandwich, seasoned with peppered bacon
and sliced Fuji apples.
"The duck is phenomenal," says
our server, Lauren Olson. "We let it
sit for a really long time in this oldstyle marinade, so it gets a really nice
flavor from that."
From downtown Blowing Rock,
we spin about a half-dozen miles
south on U.S. 221 and find the folksy
Grandfather Country Store (828-2956100) at Blue Moon Gap.
Nicole Winder is the tasting room manager of
the Grandfather Vineyard & Winery at Foscoe,
near Banner Elk, North Carolina.
How to describe: It's a stackedand-packed structure, featuring a
rambling collection of books, snacks,
hats and toys inside a century-old
layout of "strange additions," says
the co-owner, Sharon Blair Tolbert.
And much of this store's business
comes from travelers using U.S. 221
-what Tolbert calls "an old-fashioned, two-lane road like they used
Following a two-hour visit to the
rock-capped peak of Grandfather
Mountain (800-468-7325), we follow
N.C. 105 to the terraced vineyard of
the Grandfather Vineyard & Winery (828-963-2400), bordered by the
bubbling Watauga River at Foscoe.
Tasting room manager Nicole Winder shares samples of Pinot Noir while
also pointing to Casey, her beloved
border collie and winery mascot.
"Our busiest time here in the tasting room is in the fall," Winder says.
"The vines are in full bloom. And
you kind of get a little bit of that
color change in the leaves of the
September/October 2017 47