Story by Peter Berry with Phyliss Boatwright
Photos provided by Tunnel Creek Vineyards
Breathtaking, peaceful, relaxing, entertaining, and tasty are just a few of the adjectives I use to describe my visits to Tunnel Creek Vineyards, located in North Central North Carolina and Southside Virginia. The manicured grounds, exquisite facilities, and hand-trimmed vines magnify the grandeur. Tunnel Creek offers live music on weekends, and has an award-winning venue to host weddings, meetings, corporate events, and any other gathering one could think of. Oh yeah, did I mention the exceptional wine selection? When visitors drive through the entrance, it is like some sort of spell that draws us back time and time again.
I have visited Tunnel Creek many times over the last several years. Getting to know Sharon and Larry as they developed this stunning gem has been one of the highlights of my career. Sharing this place with our readers is simply a joy.
I’ll admit that my favorite time to visit is first thing in the morning, when I sneak down to the tunnel before a business meeting. With any luck, I’ll have a few extra minutes to relax in a rocking chair outside the front door of the tasting room.
My friend/writer/editor Phyliss Boatwright and I were talking about this upcoming story when she volunteered to visit Tunnel Creek with an old friend who just moved back to the area.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend contacted me and said she would love to visit Tunnel Creek. I jumped at the opportunity. Not only was I getting the chance to catch up with one of my favorite people, I was going to do it in one of the prettiest and most welcoming places I could think of.
We met in the tasting room on a Friday afternoon, appreciating the attention to detail and inspiring design. The custom cabinetry displaying the selections of wine, quartz countertops, and enormous exposed beams all add to the distinctiveness of Tunnel Creek Vineyards’ tasting room.
After we admired the beauty of our surroundings, Sharon greeted us with her signature smile. Busy with quite a large crowd of Wine Club regulars, she still took the time to acknowledge everyone who walked through the arched castle doors.
It was Wine Club Appreciation Day and I think every member was there. At our own little spot at the tasting bar, my friend and I were served by a charming young woman who went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and appreciated. She entertained us with descriptions of each wine before offering us a sample and answering our questions.
After settling on a glass of rosé, we chose a table on the balcony, overlooking the gorgeous scenery. Down below on the patio, a pianist offered nice background music. Wine Club members and other visitors were gathered near the fire pit, and everyone seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the spring afternoon.
On another visit, while I was talking with Larry, he told me their goal for the winery and vineyard has always been to ensure that every single person who visits is treated to an unforgettable experience. “From those who raise tobacco to those who raise the stock market,” he said, “I want everyone to know they are welcome here.”
Let me take you on a quick tour…
The first thing you notice as you drive to the end of Berryhill Road is a stunning gated entrance flanked by vines on either side. “Tunnel Creek Vineyards,” the sign reads; finally, you are home. Surrounded by rows of vines, the tasting room is the first building on the left. You enter through the massive arched doors to the main tasting room. Be sure to look to your right – that is where the wine slushies are served. Now head straight to the glass doors in the back to reach the balcony with the terrace below. Be sure to stop and enjoy the scenery as the balcony provides one of the best views on the property. From here you can see the entire terrace, main music stage, lake, helicopter pad, and venue in the background. Look to your left and your right and you’ll notice unused land. A space to add even more amenities, perhaps? Shhh, don’t let the secret out!
To get down to the patio you’ll need to head back inside and take the stairs or elevator. But not before you stop in the main room to get your glass of wine. Now that you’re on the lower level, peek in at the cellar. You might recognize this from the cover of our Spring 2021 issue. Through another set of glass doors is the patio, where you get up close with the musicians. They keep seating limited at events so guests can be comfortable, not crowded. Enjoy walking paths, picnic tables, and of course the oversized fire pit as well.
Now, tighten the laces on your walking shoes or hop in your car to head down and take a gander at the tunnel. As you travel down the road, of course you will see well-manicured grape vines. But keep an eye out for Tunnel Creek’s pet donkeys on your right.
The event venue will be on your left, and a right-hand turn will take you down to the tunnel. If you want to learn more about the tunnel, you can go back to our Fall 2019 issue and read the cover story. If you can’t locate a paper copy, don’t worry – it’s available at the winery or on our website.
Editor’s Note: This is a very different story than we had planned for our Summer 2022 issue. But with a worldwide pandemic, we had to learn to be flexible. Originally, we wanted to talk about the new bottling plant opening on the grounds because we love to share business successes with our readers. Unfortunately, due to supply chain issues, that story will have to wait until next spring.
And, sadly, Covid-19 also caused the delay of the official grand opening. But I have the inside scoop that big plans are in the works!
Peter Berry is the owner of Hyco Lake, River City Area, and SoBo Halifax Magazines. Residing at Hyco Lake, he drives a classic Mazda Miata chasing stories all around Danville Va., Person County NC, Halifax County Va., and Caswell County NC.
Phyliss Boatwright is a journalist who for years reported Person County news in The Courier-Times. She has published two books and several short stories. Her book review show, Turn the Page, can be heard on WKRX, 96.7. For the past 10 years, she has taught journalism and served as public information officer at Roxboro Community School. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.