By Phyliss Boatwright
In 2005, Kevin and Kimberly Moore followed their dreams and turned a former family tobacco farm into vineyards and a breathtakingly beautiful winery. Today it is one of the largest in North Carolina and it is right here in Person County.
The building, a warm, welcoming blend of old English, Italian and western lodge styles, offers a soothing symphony of natural colors and textures. Sitting on one of two front porches – first and second floor – visitors can relax with a glass of wine while enjoying the view over the rolling vineyards and four-acre lake.
The farm that is now home to Rock of Ages Winery, located at 1890 Charlie Long Road in Hurdle Mills, has been in Kevin Moore’s family for generations. And, he proudly acknowledges, the land produced wine years ago. He said, as a young man, his “granddaddy made the communion wine for Wheeler’s Primitive Baptist Church.”
Today, Kevin is equally proud of the fact that Rock of Ages is one of the largest wineries in North Carolina, and that the wines are consistent award-winners.
A lot of work went into these successes, however. When the Moores decided to bring their dream of wine making to fruition, they rolled up their sleeves and literally built the winery and vineyards themselves. When the first 26 acres of grapes were planted in 2003, both Kevin and Kimberly Moore were working full-time jobs. They owned and operated Hard Rock Marble & Tile in Hillsborough, and were also busy raising their three children. After planting those first grapes, Kevin also decided that, in order to do the job of making the best wine possible, he needed more education.
Already holding a degree in economics from NC State University, he returned to school at Surry Community College, earning an associate’s degree in enology and viticulture. From its inception, he has served as Rock of Ages’ winemaker.
After planting the vineyards and opening the winery, the Moores offered tastings and tours as well as renting the building for weddings and other events. The focus recently, however, has been on building the Rock of Ages brand by competing in shows and increasing distribution. Kevin Moore said the last wedding at the facility was held a few weeks before publication of this article. Tastings and sales continue to be available on a daily basis.
In order to meet the demand that has come with increased brand awareness, the Moores have recently installed a new bottling line and can now run 3,000 bottles per hour, which translates to 800 cases per day. Also, to keep up with demand, the Moores this year bought 95 tons of grapes to add to those from their own vineyards. Kevin said Rock of Ages wine is now available in “almost all Food Lion” stores. He is also working with his distributor to move into other retail outlets, but for now, Food Lion “drives the market” for wine sales, he explained.
Rock of Ages produces over 40 wines from the 17 varieties of grapes in the vineyards. In addition to the fruit, red and white wine varieties grown in the past, the winery is offering a new holiday wine, Christmas Honey Bear, in 2018. Kevin Moore said Christmas wines had, in the past, been “super popular.” Last year, he noted, the winery sold 1,400 cases of its Christmas wine.
Other offerings include sweets Bushy Fork Red, Flat River White, Cork and Pork, Triple Springs Muscadine, Red Mountain Red, Orange Grove, Black Cherry Tree, Strawberry Fields, Peach Orchard and Blackberry Patch.
Dry red wine offerings at Rock of Ages include Lemberger, Touriga, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, three Merlots, Old World Blend Barrel Select and Chateau Red Barrel Select. Dry white wine lovers can choose from Chardonnay, Chardonnay Oak, Chardonnay Stainless, Viognier, Chardonel, Petit Manseng, Traminette, and Chateau White. Also available are wine slushy kits and mulled kits, which Kevin Moore says, “taste like Christmas in a bottle.”
Rock of Ages Winery is open seven days a week, from 1 to 5 p.m., for tastings. No appointment is necessary. More information about the wines, and the new wine club, is available on the web site, www.RockOfAgesWinery.com or by calling 336-364-7625.