Vines Go Dormant in the Winter, Vineyards Don’t…

As the holiday season arrives, and the official start of Winter is just around the corner, you may be thinking that the 200+ wineries in the Carolinas are seasonal and take a break during the cooler months.  The vines certainly do:

Dormant Vines

Yes, the vines are going to be brown and dormant like many trees and plants during late Autumn and Winter.  Grapes are a deciduous perennial plant that really don’t do too much once the temperature drops.  The vines may often look like a lifeless gnarled woody plant that has seen better days.  They are, however, still alive and they are just hanging out until the warmth of Spring awakens the vine back into action.  This stage of the vine is still beautiful to see but it is different from the typical green that is pictured when you think of a vineyard.


What About the Wineries?

While the vines are dormant, the majority of wineries are most certainly not.  Yes, a few may close to visitors during the winter months but many of them are open year round and have adjusted their activities, atmosphere and events to accommodate the cooler weather months.   Most adjust their hours and even close on slower days of the week but you can count on the majority of them to be open on more popular days like Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  The bottom line is that the wineries of the Carolinas are year round destinations!

The cool weather and shorter days mean that you will have uniquely winter experiences at the wineries that you just couldn’t have during the Summer months:



Most wineries close early and further reduce their hours in the Winter except for special or private events.  In the Summer months, you may not get to experience the wineries at night since the sun is up far later than the wine maker.  While there could be an argument made for winery “nightlife”, that’s not the point we are trying to make here; Wineries are beautiful places and wouldn’t it be nice to see them all lit up?  The Winter is when you have the greatest opportunity to capture a scene like this:

Mountain Brook Vineyards at Night

The designs, effects, and magnitude of lighting will be as varied as the wines themselves; but isn’t that what makes wine and wineries such great destinations?  Lights can set the mood of a place like nothing else.  They can make an area almost magical:

Lights at Antler Hill Village

This just couldn’t be done in the Summer when it doesn’t get dark until late, almost 10pm.  The effect of the lighting is also multiplied when you consider the next cold weather benefit…


There are many ingredients that contribute to a perfect winter night…A crisp evening, a sweater or comfy jacket, lights, maybe a glass of wine or cup of hot chocolate, and the cherry on top of it all – fire, a fire pit or fireplace.  This is yet another vineyard experience you are not going to have in the Summer months.  You need cool weather to enjoy the vibe and comfort that only a fire pit or fireplace can create:

Campfire at Biltmore Winery

Much like the lights, there will be a lot of variance between fire pits or fireplaces at different wineries, some may not even have one.  If that is the case, plan your visit accordingly, visit those wineries early in the day on your tour so that you strategically end up at the perfect spot at the end of the day where you can relax and enjoy a nice fire with your glass of wine!


Not entirely exclusive to Winter, but definitely something that is difficult to experience in the middle of Summer, since many wineries close early at 6pm or 7pm, sunsets are just not an option until daylight savings time expires and we return to standard time.  You may catch a sunset in late Autumn or early Spring, but the timing is perfect to see a beautiful sunset all Winter long.  This is truly a special way to experience these wineries and vineyards, inherently beautiful places:

Parker-Binns Sunset
Shadow Springs Sunset

What Are You Waiting For?

The fun of touring the beautiful Carolina wine regions and wine tasting is something to be enjoyed year round.  Don’t let the lack of warmth and/or sunshine stop you!  The wine tastes great year round!  The vineyard may look different but experiencing what each winery or vineyard has to offer in each season helps make wine tasting a year round attraction.

Avatar for Ryan Watts

I am the founder of Van in Black. I also started HD Carolina (the first Carolina themed channel on Roku and Amazon Fire TV) and several other service based companies located in North Carolina. I am also a musician, photographer, wine geek (WSET Level 3 in Wines Certified with merit and Level 1 with the Court of Master Sommeliers), computer nerd, and lover of all things cool. Most importantly, however, I am a husband, father, and very proud (newly minted) grandfather.

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