Asheville may be best known for its impeccable beer, but a savvy traveler knows that the fermentation doesn’t just end there. The Blue Ridge Mountains are host to some of the most idyllic vineyards anywhere in the Southern U.S., and Asheville’s enthusiasm for food and drink has made the best of those conditions.
Tasting rooms, wine-bars, and wineries abound here in Asheville, perhaps not in the multitudes of our craft breweries, but with equal aplomb. Wine is, after all, the beer of grapes. To discover some of the best places to enjoy the fine wines of Asheville, I invite you to read on.
On the banks of the French Broad, at the southern end of the River Arts District, Pleb Urban Winery continues the area’s tradition of mixing industry with art through their “minimal intervention” fermentation process, which produces some of the best wines in Asheville.
Tours are held on Saturdays at 2pm, and admission comes with a complimentary wine tasting in their spacious lounge. If you’d prefer to sample Pleb’s wine without the tour, visit their Aventine wine-bar in downtown, just across from the Grove Arcade.
If you happen to visit on a Wednesday, however, I would suggest their River Arts District location. It lies right next to the River Arts District Farmer’s Market, held every Wednesday from 3pm to 6pm. An excellent opportunity to sample the produce of WNC, both fermented and fresh.
Hours: Monday through Thursday 3pm to 8pm. Friday through Sunday 1pm to 7pm.
This West Asheville wine bar provides locals with not only stellar beverages, but food to match. Sharing a founder with The Admiral and Bull and Beggar (two of Asheville’s most sophisticated eateries), here sommeliers can enjoy a vast spread of wines from pink to amber, alongside breaths of fresh air in their extensive outdoor seating.
As far as the food: charcuterie boards with chicken liver mousse, foie gras toast with fennel jam, steak tartare, prosciutto tartines with strawberries, and beef cheek fusilli. It's enough to make you believe you’re dining in la France. Finish off your meal with a slice of chocolate cake or honey semifreddo, paired with the wine-of-choice, of course.
Visit this wine bar on a Friday or Saturday for their “Prix Fixe” lunches: $25 for a sandwich, soup, salad, and sorbet. On “Tap Tuesdays” all tap wines are only $25 a bottle.
Hours: Monday through Thursday 4pm to 10pm. Fridays and Saturdays 12pm to 10pm. Closed Sundays.
A visit to Asheville would be incomplete without a tour of the Biltmore Estate, especially for first-time travelers. Luckily for wine-lovers, admission comes with a complimentary tasting at their winery in Antler Village, nestled within Biltmore’s placid grounds. Reservations are required on the day of your visit, the suggestion being you set a time for your tasting as soon as you arrive.
The vintages here are made with grapes grown right on the estate. They pair excellently with the winery’s charcuterie boards and locally made truffles, and perhaps a walk about the Biltmore’s grounds beforehand. For those interested in the wine-making process itself, they also offer tours of the facilities.
Hours: 11am to 7pm daily. Open until 8pm on Fridays.
Back in the RAD, Bottle Riot’s a chic wine bar with all the flair you’d expect from Asheville’s most artistic district. You can get small bites—pimento cheese sandwiches and sunburst farms trout dip standout to me—alongside a veritable cornucopia of libations. Vermouths, ports, Madieras, reds, whites, petnats, roses, a full cocktail bar, and a whole other half of their drinks menu devoted to imported beers and ciders.
Bottle Riot frequently hosts special events, from live music to tasting with guest sommeliers, giving good reason to make this wine bar in Asheville your own local favorite.
Hours: Monday through Friday 4pm to 10pm. Saturdays 2pm to 10pm. Sundays 2pm to 8pm.
Right on the corner of downtown's Grove Arcade, the Battery Park Book Exchange is both a local landmark, and one of the best places for wine in Asheville. Their extensive collection of used books covers nearly all subjects and genres—a true labyrinth of literature—while interspersed huddles of couches and chairs offer the perfect place to enjoy a drink with your most erudite companions.
Their menu offers champagne flights, sparkling wine cocktails with a literary zeal, cheese boards, charcuterie platters, and espresso. Their pastry cabinet bursts with some of the finest selection of local baked goods. If you need yet another reason to visit, you can call ahead to arrange to sell your own used books for cash or champagne credit, making the Battery Park Book Exchange the only place I know of where you can not only read while you drink, but drink what you read.
Hours: Thursday through Saturday 12pm to 8pm. Wednesdays 12pm to 7pm. Sundays 12pm to 6pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Pleb Urban Winery
289 Lyman St, Asheville, NC 28801
Leo's House of Thirst
1055 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
Biltmore Estate Winery
1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803
37 Paynes Way #009, Asheville, NC 28801
Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar (828)-252-0020
1 Page Ave #101, Asheville, NC 28801