Asheville’s Top Wine Experiences: Tours, Tastings & Wine Bars


People all over the country are raising their glasses to Asheville’s wine scene. Travel Channel has named Asheville one of the “New Top 10 Cities for Wine Snobs.” In other words, the wine opportunities here are so plentiful and delicious that even the true wine aficionado can appreciate the selection.

Why is the area such a fertile ground for good wine? Local winemakers attribute it to the area's natural resources and climate.

“The Appalachian soils are really very good. The sun here and temperatures — and the rainfall is tremendous,” explained Peter Fland, former president of Asheville area wine organization French Broad Vignerons.

In blind tastings organized by the French Broad Vignerons, expert judges ranked many top area wines above or equal to similar wines from California and Europe. 

"In a few years, everyone who isn’t already talking about Western North Carolina wines will be," says Jeff Frisbee, a winemaker at Addison Farms Vineyard in Leicester just outside of Asheville.

Nearly 60 wineries dot the mountains of Western North Carolina, including intriguing family-owned outposts and household names such as Biltmore Winery (the most visited winery in the United States). The more than a dozen wineries within an hour of Asheville are ripe for exploration.

Cropped Copy of Jeff Frisbee - Addison Farms

Asheville Wineries You Can Visit

With so many wineries and vineyards in the area, how do you choose where to visit?

A great place to start is Biltmore, where you can pair your wine adventure with a visit to America's largest home. Located on the estate grounds, Biltmore Winery paved the way for the local wine industry beginning when the first wine was created in the 1970s. Today, wine is built into the Biltmore experience: a visit to the winery and a wine tasting is included in Biltmore admission. 

In the River Arts DistrictPlēb Urban Winery draws attention for its emphasis on using grapes from local farmers and growers. From six farms in Western North Carolina, Plēb produces more than 20 small-batch wines that represent the Asheville area. The winery has become known for having one of the area's most interesting wine selections on tap. Sip wine and enjoy the atmosphere in the tasting room, which features colorful murals by local artists.

Just 17 miles northwest of downtown Asheville, you'll find Addison Farms Vineyard in the beautiful rolling hills of the rural Leicester community. This family-owned and operated vineyard, winery and tasting room boasts 360-degree mountain views. In fact, Jeff Frisbee's family has owned the land since 1937. In 2009, Addison Farms planted 600 Cabernet Sauvignon vines and now has five more acres producing Gold Medal award-winning wines from Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Petit Menseng. Take a tour, savor a personalized tasting experience or simply enjoy the mountain views while relaxing in the rocking chairs on the porch. 

For a well-rounded wine experience, Blue Ridge Wine Tours offers six-hour driving tours that take groups of six or more to three nearby wineries, such as Marked Tree and Stone Ashe, that are part of the Crest of the Blue Ridge AVA. Guided tastings and an Instagram-worthy picnic lunch are included. Blue Ridge Wine Tours also offers an Imbibe Walking Tour in downtown Asheville that takes in a winery, brewery, craft cocktail bar, and a private tour of a local gallery with a champagne toast.

Other surrounding communities with wineries include the cities of Hendersonville (35 minutes) and Tryon (50 minutes). 

In addition to tours and tastings, area wineries also host a series of events and educational programs throughout the year. The French Broad Vignerons organize the activities. Visit the French Broad Vignerons website for more information. 

Cropped Copy of Battery Park Book Exchange

Where to Sip and Savor: Wine Bars

Wine isn’t just part of Asheville’s culture. It’s shaping the culture of this mountain city. Asheville has a number of distinguished wine bars to sip and savor.

  • Bottle Riot in the River Arts District — brings you wine from around the world, offering 60 wines by the glass. The bar focuses on wines that are "sustainable, biodynamic and ones that are unique, rare and just plain geeky." They also serve beer, spirits, and small bites, and host vinyl nights most weekends.

  • Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar in the historic Grove Arcade pairs a beautiful bookstore setting with an extensive wine selection. This wine bar has been featured on Wine Enthusiast's list of "Top 20 Wine Bars in America." Live jazz music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday adds to the ambiance. 

  • Enjoy a glass of wine at 5 Walnut Wine Bar in downtown Asheville, NC5 Walnut Wine Bar serves wine with live music almost every night in downtown Asheville. In warmer months, large open windows allow the overflow crowd to enjoy the jazz, rock, blues and soul from the sidewalk.

  • The Weinhaus, in downtown has the distinction of being Asheville's oldest beer and wine store. Inside is the Cork and Keg Bar, which offers a variety of wine and beer by the glass as well as a selection of cheese plates and snacks. Cork and Keg maintains a busy schedule of live music throughout the year.

  • The Aventine is Plēb's tasting room in downtown Asheville across from the Grove Arcade. In a pretty lounge setting, the aventine features its own wines alongside other producers with a heavy focus on local terroir and use organic, biodynamic or minimal intervention practices.

  • On the west side, Leo's House of Thirst is an intimate wine bar with a phenomenal seasonally fresh menu that can provide casual accompaniments to the wine list or a full dining experience. They serve natural wines by the glass, bottle, and on tap. All tap wine bottles are half off on Tuesdays.

  • At WALLS Wine Bar downtown, you can sip on wines from around the world while perusing the large-than-life landscape and wildlife photography by Benjamin Walls. There's also outdoor patio seating, which is perfect for people-watching when the weather's nice.

Wine Stores and Unique Experiences

The Asheville area is also home to wine stores that provide unique tastings and experiences.

  • Table Wine (South Asheville) — has not only established itself as a top wine retailer in Asheville but also has become known for its frequent tasting events.

  • Metro Wines (North Asheville) — focuses on wine and food pairings and hosts frequent tastings

  • Appalachian Vintner (Biltmore Village) — has a rotating list of wines and draft beers on tap to drink in the store. It also has a large selection of hard cider, mead, vermouth, sake, and natural wine.

  • Crocodile Wine (Downtown) – specializes in natural wine and sells over 300 low-intervention international and domestic wines made from organic grapes, and wild fermented with native yeasts. 

  • Maggie B's Wine & Specialty Store (Weaverville) — is not only lauded for its tastings but for being especially dog-friendly. The store is named after the owners' yellow Labrador retriever.

In addition to these dedicated wine bars, Asheville's nationally-acclaimed dining scene serves up an award-winning selection of local, regional and international wines. Spanish tapas bar Cúrate has earned the title of "One of the 100 Best Wine Restaurants in the U.S." from Wine Enthusiast.

Map of Asheville Wineries and Wine Bars 

North Carolina Wine History  

It was in the 1800s that Sir Walter Raleigh declared that the region would become revered for its wine. He was referring to scuppernongs grapes (a large variety of muscadine) growing on Roanoke Island. But with a long stretch of Prohibition, the industry faded from the forefront. 

A key next chapter in area wine history traces its beginnings to the 1890s. It was then when George Vanderbilt was inspired by the mountains and the French Broad River to build Biltmore Estate. Vanderbilt had envisioned his estate as a large-scale working farm. Many years later, Vanderbilt’s grandson, William Cecil, figured out how to bottle that inspiration. He created the estate’s first wine in the 1970s and founded Biltmore Winery in 1983.

Biltmore led the charge for the experimentation and research in the North Carolina Wine industry as Cecil worked with experts from around the world to experiment with various kinds of grapes. With Biltmore's investment paving the way, North Carolina wine industry has grown leaps and bounds.

According to the North Carolina Wine and Grape Council (NC Wine), there are over 500 commercial vineyards and nearly 200 wineries across the state, as well as six designated Appalachian Viticultural Areas (AVA), three of which are in Western North Carolina.   

Writer Emily Patrick contributed to this story.

Updated February 27, 2024