Don't let that deluxe background fool you, Frank operates out of a barn. Unlike many of the local wineries his land wasn't purchased because of the southward facing slopes with the ideal soil conditions to mimic the Italian countryside. After three generations of farming cattle, tobacco and corn, the farm on the corner of Reynolda and Rockford roads in Booneville, NC made the transition to an estate.
While the Yadkin River Valley is home to many wineries there is something about RagApple Lassie that stands out. Other wineries I had previously visited phoned in an air European influence constructing their replica Chateaus and Villas where trailers once stood. A novice to any wine grander than a Boone's Farm or Night Train finds these environments unsettling. As the wines are sampled hosts read from a glossary of $5 words which lead the conversation into a series of nods.
'I find the Sangiovese brings hints of cinnamon and violets which add to the bright flavors of red plum in this thin skinned vintage that teases the palate.'
' Our Vermentino varietal produces a clean mineral note revealing layers of citrus enhancing the palate flavors of honey and pear '
While these are indeed fine wines I found it a rather pretentious way to spend an afternoon. This writer has other concerns to attend to, not about to spend time ruminating aftertastes and pondering the imponderables.
Frank's winery operates in a more direct method of explanation.
'This salmon colored vixen, just as soft, gentle, and tempting as your "First Blush..."
'Just like good sex, this delightful full bodied jewel of a wine teases the palate'
'This here makes for a real good back porch sippin' wine'
The RagApple wine list reads like a mix of Wine Aficionado, a Jack Daniels commercial, and a romance novel. For the low price of $8 you get a healthy sampling of 12 wines, a souvenir wine glass, and all the southern stories you'd ever care to hear.
While it may just be a glorified barn, this barn was voted a finalist for the best new winery in the USA by the Wine Appreciation Guild. Where else can you walk into a winery and meet the owner who asks if we are here for the wine or for the cattleman's meeting starting in a half hour. If you're ever so fortunate as to travel in Western North Carolina, just a few miles east of Booneville you can taste excellent wines, get a pretty healthy buzz, and a whole mess of Southern culture all for the low introductory price of $8.