Flat Rock vineyard makes its mark
Henderson County’s wine scene is continuing to boom, with four wineries opening just in the past year. A highlight is Lance Hiatt and Tim Parks’ Marked Tree Vineyard in Flat Rock, named for the trees shaped by Native Americans to mark paths and trails. The scenic 46-acre facility opened its tasting room last year but has been bottling since 2016. Featured wines include German- and Austrian-inspired varietals (Grüner Veltliner and Lemberger), French standards such as Cab Franc, and hybrid varietals — Videl Blanc, Chardonel. Marked Tree is a new stop on Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend, which highlights the county as a certified American Viticultural Area, a designation established in 2019.
How do you decide to open a winery?
Tim Parks: We were the family that always went on vacations where there were wineries. We’d go to DC, but we’d stay in the parts of Virginia where there were wineries. Or we’d go to visit Lance’s brother in Idaho and end up doing wine tastings in the Columbia Valley Gorge.
What brought you to this area?
TP: When we were living in Atlanta, we had a cabin in [the town of] Blue Ridge [Georgia] and found Crane Creek Vineyards. It’s one of my favorites because it’s smaller, it’s more intimate, it’s all about the outdoors. It got us to see for the first time that you don’t have to be a 30-case production facility to do it, you could start small. … Anyone can go to Trader Joe’s and get a $10 bottle of wine. But there’s something about going to the winery and getting the wine from that place … just like that song that you heard in 2000 on vacation, and every time you hear that song now, it makes you think of that vacation. In all of our travels, our favorite wines are the ones that remind us of a sense of place, and that’s what we try to do at our vineyard.
You’ve opened a second tasting room in downtown Asheville. How is that affecting the winery here in Flat Rock?
Lance Hiatt: We were thinking of putting a billboard up on the highway. But we got to looking at how much a billboard costs! So then we found this beautiful little space in downtown Asheville, and we thought, well, instead of spending that money on a billboard, why don’t we have a live space to show people what we can do with wine in North Carolina, and if they want to come see the vineyard, they can come see the vineyard!
TP: Over the past few months, we’ve started to get guests coming into our Asheville location who hadn’t even heard of Hendersonville having wineries. We’ll have groups that come to the tasting room first — and then they’ll come out to the vineyard.
Cheers to the Crest of the Blue Ridge
Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend highlights Henderson County as the “Crest of the Blue Ridge” American Viticulture Area. These local wineries and hard cideries will participate in events running Thursday, April 15 through Sunday, April 18, with live music, facility tours, educational demonstrations, and special menus: Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Cider, Burntshirt Vineyards (Chimney Rock and Hendersonville), Marked Tree Vineyard, Point Lookout Vineyard and World’s Edge Meadery, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards (Hendersonville and Flat Rock), Sawyer Springs Vineyard, Stone Ashe Vineyards, and the Horse Shoe Farm. Many events are free; some are ticketed and require reservations. For more information and a full schedule, see visithendersonvillenc.org or the “Cider, Wine & Dine Weekend” event page on Facebook.
Marked Tree Vineyard, 623 Deep Gap Road, Flat Rock. Visit markedtreevineyard.com for current hours and more information.