By Charles King, Owner
The origin of Dobbins Creek Vineyards really became an idea in my mind in 1998 but, we need to go back seventy-four years to 1946 to talk about the true origins of the vineyard. When I was four years old, my father, Isom King, purchased 50 acres of land on Hemric Mountain that Dobbins Creek sits on today to be used as a tobacco farm. Granted, nobody in my family at that time even remotely thought about a vineyard on the property much less anything about wine itself…it was all about tobacco then. But since the land is a very important component of a vineyard, I would consider 1946 to be the indirect starting point for the vineyard for without my father making this purchase, Dobbins Creek might not be in existence today. I just wouldn’t realize this until 1998 when the idea for vineyard formed and I was fortunate to have still retained ownership of this valuable piece of farmland.
A chance reading of a Sunday edition of the Winston-Salem Journal in the late spring of 1998 at the home of my mother-in law in my hometown of Hamptonville, NC is where the idea of Dobbins Creek Vineyards first started. The paper featured two stories about the building and planting of two of the earliest vineyards and wineries in the Yadkin Valley. The first story related to Ed and Charlie Shelton and the building of Shelton Vineyards while the second story featured my future close friends Amy and Michael Helton regarding the startup of their Hanover Park Vineyard. Reading these articles, I was struck by the limited amount of viticultural experience they had but even so, they were pursuing their ideas and visions to get their wineries established. Reading these articles, I knew how to drink wine but I had absolutely no experience in growing grapes, but I thought that if they could do it with limited experience why couldn’t I? And I had the land to get started with.
At the same time, along with the two featured stories, there was a byline in the paper about a meeting being set up a few months later in 1998 by the N.C. Agricultural Extension Office in Winston-Salem to talk about growing grapes. I attended this meeting along with about forty other grape growers. The vineyard idea was beginning to jell, and with enough confidence that it could work, in 2000, I enrolled at Surry Community College in Dobson N.C. and took a year of viticultural courses.
In 2001, the real work began. I began to clear the farm and laid out the vineyard planning a North/South orientation for the vines in relation to how the sun traveled over Hemric Mountain. I brought in consultants to walk the vineyard and to give me an idea of what grape varietals would grow well and in the spring of 2002, I planted the first vines for Dobbins Creek, which were one acre of Merlot of which most is still in production today. My original plan only called for planting of just one acre figuring that I would grow the grapes and then sell them to other vineyards but I quickly changed direction and decided to keep the grapes, process them and make and sell wine. So, in the spring of 2003, I planted an additional four acres consisting of Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc bringing the number of acres planted to five acres total. Having made the decision to produce wine, I turned my attention to building a tasting room, designing and clearing the land for it in 2004 and starting construction in 2005. Completed in late 2006 Dobbins Creek Vineyards officially opened for business in the Spring of 2007.
It was a journey of nine years. What started out as an idea to give me something to do in retirement had morphed into a full production vineyard and tasting room producing award winning wines. I am extremely grateful for all the help I received along the way from 1998 to when we opened for business in 2007 from my family, friends, mentors and my fellow vineyard owners in the area. Without their love, help and guidance, Dobbins Creek Vineyards may have never been.