At WoodMill Vineyard, wine isnâ€™t the only thing visitors can get a taste of.
â€œWeâ€™re selling an experience,â€ said owner Larry Cagle Jr.
In addition to five acres of muscadine grape vines nestled into west Lincoln Countyâ€™s rolling hills, WoodMill Winery is also currently under construction.
Once finished, the winery will feature a 32-foot-by-52-foot banquet hall that can accommodate weddings, receptions, reunions and wine tastings. A 16-by-60 back deck offers views of uninterrupted countryside, and a 16-by-12 front deck is just yards away from the grape vines. The banquet hall and decks can seat nearly 200 people. The entire building is handicap accessible.
Ambiance is a major focus for Cagle. There will be vaulted ceilings, a floor-to-ceiling rock fireplace with gas logs and three chandeliers. When creating the space, lighting was important.
â€œWe can turn on the atmosphere lights to create a nice area,â€ he said. â€œWe try to make it a place you enjoy coming to and feel comfortable in.â€
Although the sound of hammering still echoes throughout the area and construction equipment takes up space inside, Cagle has already had interest and commitments from several groups. A West Lincoln High School class will hold its reunion there and the Eastern North Carolina Christmas Tree Growerâ€™s Associationâ€™s annual meeting could bring up to 150 people to the winery in September.
He hopes to be licensed to sell the wine â€” which is produced in the downstairs of the winery â€” by mid-May.
In addition to catering to special events, regular wine tastings will also be held. For about $3, customers can sample up to five different wines. Theyâ€™ll then get to pick their favorite, which will be served in a keepsake glass.
And the action wonâ€™t stop inside the facility.
In 2007, Cagle hopes to hold concerts on a sloped area behind the winery. There are also possible bike, tractor and car shows in the works.
Cagle said the winery â€” situated on 52 acres off John Beam Road â€” is in the perfect location to draw visitors from Lincoln County as well as nearby Morganton, Hickory, Shelby, Gastonia and even Charlotte.
He hopes visitors who are in the area to visit nearby Helmsâ€™ Christmas Tree Farm will stop by, as well as those on their way home from the annual Cat Square Christmas Parade.
School kids will also be able to tour the vineyard and learn about the grape-growing process.
â€œWe feel like weâ€™re a central hub,â€ he said.
Cagle hopes to have the entire facility open by mid-summer.
Cagle was inspired to start the vineyard after his fatherâ€™s deteriorating heart condition grew worse. While researching cardiovascular health, he came across an article suggesting that consumption of red wine, over a long period of time, reduced the occurrence of heart disease.
The study credited Resveratrol as the chemical component primarily responsible for the heart-healthy benefits, according to Cagleâ€™s Web site. One of the highest known concentrations of Resveratrol is found in muscadine grapes.
When the winery opens, it will offer five varieties of wine, three of which will be available in combinations of sweet, semi-sweet and semi-dry sugar combinations.
For more information about WoodMill Vineyard and WoodMill Winery, go to www.woodmillvineyard.com or call Cagle at (704) 736-7733. The vineyard is located at 1506 John Beam Road.
by Alice Smith