Days of wine and song
“This is a great latitude for growing grapes, the same as South Sonoma,” says Max Lloyd, owner of Grove Winery & Vineyards near Gibsonville. The former high-tech entrepreneur who fell in love with wine culture during a business trip to Sonoma in 1992 and transformed himself into one of our region’s most respected winemakers.
Part of the reason behind his success is indeed the set of characteristics of the land where Lloyd produces grapes for a limited production of roughly 3,100 cases of high-quality wine a year. The unique microclimate of his main 44 acres of vineyards in the agricultural heart of the Haw River Valley — the state’s third federally designated American Viticultural Area — features splendid draining soil that is high in mineral content with elevations that make growing European varietal grapes a natural.
After a decade of learning the craft and experimenting with various grapes on family land in Virginia, Lloyd planted the first vines of his Gibsonville estate vineyard in April of 2002. Almost two decades later, the grapes in cultivation include cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese, nebbiolo, merlot, cabernet franc, chardonnay, traminette and tempranillo grapes. Lloyd has not only served as a judge in important competitions around the country, but has also written for a host of important industry publications and taught classes on the art of making wine.
As one of the state’s earliest wineries, the proof of Grove’s enduring success is in the quality of its pressings. Since rolling out his first estate bottled wines in 2005 — which won a gold medal — Grove has claimed more than 200 medals in local and national competitions, making the operation one of the most awarded wineries on the East Coast.
The firm’s award-winning 2015 Reserve Malbec and 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon may arguably be the headliners of Grove’s impressive variety of hand-made European-style wines, but its wildly popular Jug House Blush — a semi-sweet rosé that’s Lloyd’s answer to traditional white zinfandel — is a people-pleaser that perfectly captures the laid-back charm that makes this unpretentious boutique winery just 7 miles from the city limits of Greensboro such a hit with its large and loyal fan base.
Part of that appeal, Lloyd acknowledges, comes f the versatility of the setting and diverse outdoor entertainment Grove has become known for over the years, such as outstanding monthly concerts that feature many of the region’s finest musical and comedy acts. Not surprisingly, the winery is also a popular gathering spot for area cycling clubs and canoeists paddling the nearby Haw River. It even has a hitching post for customers who choose to come by horse. Special events, family reunions, private parties, vineyard walks and lakeside weddings are also commonplace happenings.
Since reopening from the coronavirus crisis, the winery is staging weekly evening concerts — overlooking Lake Cabernet — from 7 to 10 p.m. every Saturday, from now to November.
“Normally we would have anywhere from 400 to 600 people come out for a concert,” Lloyd explains, “but now — even with safe-distancing — we can accommodate 140 visitors at tables with no problem. Folks will be safe and have great time.” h — Jim Dodson
Grove Winery & Vineyards is located at 7360 Brooks Bridge Road in Gibsonville and suggests calling ahead at (336) 584-4060 for updated information of scheduled concerts and events. For more information: grovewinery.com.