The Yadkin Valley is located between the Blue Ridge and Brushy Mountains. Both of these mountain ranges are among the oldest in North America. Over thousands of years the rocks have weathered to produce rich soils and spectacular scenes. Any season in the Yadkin Valley is breathtaking. Autumn brings vibrant foliage and during winter we can view beautiful snow-capped mountains. Spring arrives with the bloom of Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel, and then summer follows with wildflowers at every turn.
My ancestors came to the beautiful Swan Creek Region of the Yadkin Valley from London, England in 1773, settling less than 8 miles from our vineyards. For 10 generations, the Myers family has farmed the land and preserved the beauty of the valley.
My wife, Kim and I met in October 1975 on a blind date to the Dixie Classic Fair. We were married on New Year’s Eve 1977, exactly two hundred years to the day since the first Myers was born on American soil. (Of course, we did not know this until many years later.)
I followed in both my father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by going to work for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. in 1978, while farming on the side. Kim pursued a career in advertising and graphic art. In 1981 our daughter Ashley Laurel was born and then 2 years later, our son, Taylor Gray.
Many residents of the Yadkin Valley have made their living by tobacco farming and factory work in the local textile industry. In the 1980s and 1990s, we saw a decline in these industries in the Yadkin Valley and across North Carolina. Because we owned such beautiful farmland, Kim and I began researching agricultural alternatives that we hoped would allow our children the opportunity to live in the area. Through the years, we had the opportunity to visit wine-growing regions in the United States and Europe. When we realized that our land, an 84-acre former dairy cattle and tobacco farm, was a perfect spot for a vineyard, we began seeking information and training.
In April 2001, we planted our first French Vinifera grapevines in the heart of the Yadkin Valley and named the vineyard for our two children, Ashley Laurel and Taylor Gray. We were looking for a simple name depicting southern hospitality with a touch of elegance. By combining the middle names of our children we had the perfect name: Laurel Gray. Our tasting room, a renovated milking parlor, opened in 2003.
Also in 2003, Ashley graduated from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences. She went on to complete a M.S. in Plant Pathology from NCSU, concentrating in grape diseases. After her graduate studies, she spent time working as Virginia’s Grape Pathology Extension Specialist and is currently the Science Division Chair at Surry Community College in Dobson, NC. Taylor completed a double B.S. in Financial Planning and Risk & Insurance from Appalachian State University in 2006. He is currently employed in the insurance industry in Raleigh, NC. Kim is the general manager, overseeing the vineyard and the tasting room. She continues to use her artistic background by creating original artwork for each of our wine labels and is director of advertising and marketing.
Laurel Gray expanded in 2007 with the opening of our winery, the Yadkin Valley Wine Company. Located on the hillside above the tasting room, the YVWC is a state of the art 20,000 case capacity winery. I spend a portion of my time in the winery consulting with our winemaker, Charlie Kidd. Charlie joined the Laurel Gray team in April 2013. He is a talented winemaker, having won multiple awards in both California and Texas before relocating to North Carolina. Charlie believes that great wines are made in the vineyard, therefore, he has studied viticulture and vineyard practices extensively. We are all very excited about the coming vintages from LGV. The vineyard is old enough now to produce very high quality fruit, and with Charlie’s guidance, we are looking forward to many more award-winning wines.
Working together, Kim and I have pursued our dream of keeping the family farm intact for future generations. Laurel Gray Vineyards currently has over 10 acres dedicated to grapes including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Pinot Gris. Ten awarding-winning estate wines are sold primarily at our tasting room. Our wines’ success is a direct reflection of 10 generations of Yadkin Valley farm experience and a family commitment to excellence.
Stop in and taste our wines. We’d love to meet you.
Benny Myers – Owner