Did you know there is a winery near Raleigh in Apex? Like a legit vineyard with grapes growing on the vines? Neither did I until it popped out on the map when I was planning a bike ride along the Tobacco Trail.
What? You mean I can ride 30 miles from Durham and stop off at this winery in Apex for a chilled glass of wine and a charcuterie board?
Yep. Nestled in the scenic beauty of Apex, North Carolina, Cloer Family Vineyards is a true gem for wine enthusiasts and those seeking a delightful escape from the daily hustle and bustle.
It is the only family-owned winery in the Triangle area that grows its own grapes and produces them onsite. We’re talking about growing, harvesting, bottling, labeling, and selling.
It’s one of two wineries in the Raleigh area. Except the other, Chatham Hill Winery makes wine from grapes grown in the Yadkin Valley, North Carolina.
When our friends from Australia came to visit in the last weekend of October, and the sun warmed up to 80 degrees, we put wine tasting on our “Show off Raleigh to friends” list.
They are big wine connoisseurs like us, and live close by to Margaret River in Western Australia – easily the best wine region in Australia (and who we’ve visited that area with).
While NC Wines can’t really compete with Margaret River ones, our friends gave Cloer Vineyards a thumbs up for serenity, and easy to drink white wines. They also got to experience the sweet wine varieties North Carolina wine is known for.
Let’s take a closer look at the Cloer Family Winery near Raleigh, NC so you know what to expect.
A Location of Tranquility
Cloer Family Vineyards is conveniently located in Apex, a short drive from Raleigh and the surrounding Triangle area. Tucked away in a serene rural setting, this vineyard offers a peaceful retreat from the city’s fast pace.
You won’t even realize there are subdivisions backing onto the vineyard from all directions, and you’ll say a silent prayer of thanks that the developers did not touch this slice of grape heaven.
In keeping with a farm feel, the winery has a red barn tasting room with several outdoor seating areas surrounding it.
Choose your view: Over the landscaped gardens and pine forest with horse barn in the distance; over a small pond with geese in them; over the small rows of vineyards (bursting with Fall colors on our visit and horses trotting through them)
There’s even a small playground for kids with nearby tables where you can relax while they play.
It’s the perfect backdrop for a day of wine relaxation and enjoyment with friends – especially if the sun is warming. If you visit during the heat of summer, there are plenty of shady spots and you can also sit inside the tasting room.
I had planned a bike ride here on the White Oak Creek Greenway trail for Craig’s 50th but then we both got sick! Thankfully our friends visiting a few weeks later finally brought us to this wonderful North Carolina winery.
Locally Owned & Operated NC Winery
One of the first things we commented on when sitting down outside was their beautiful, landscaped gardens and wondering how they take care of them.
They even had an Australian frangipani plant in the garden (one of my favorites). This was our first time seeing this in the USA and gave us a thrill (even though no flowers were on it) especially since we were with our Aussie mates.
So, we weren’t surprised when owner Pam Cloer, who was working in the tasting room on our visit, shared with us more of their story. Their main business for 31 years has been Cloer Nursery, a landscaping business.
Pam’s husband Tam has a Bachelor of Science in horticulture from NC State and learned how to make wine over many years from a neighbor. After inheriting his neighbor’s wine making equipment, he planted 3,000 vines across five acres of his 18-acre farm and began experimenting.
All good success stories have a foundation of years of mistakes. It took Tam 12 years to figure out how to overcome the challenges of growing wine in the NC Carolina soil and climate. Eventually he planted muscadine and found the success he was looking for. (Did you know this North Carolina grape has its beginnings in the Outer Banks with the mother vine – the oldest cultivated wine grape in the USA?)
Then in 2010, the Cloer Family opened the doors to Cloer Family Vineyard to share their good wine with friends and visitors. It’s not just muscadines that they grow now, but other varieties as well.
Wine Tasting at Cloer Family Vineyard
I was surprised that Cloer Family Vineyards had a wide selection of wines from whites to reds, dry to sweet NC wines. I’m not a typical sweet wine drinker but have developed a palette that will tolerate them more. You have to in North Carolina, as muscadine grapes are our signature variety.
But, recently there has been a growing number of wineries in North Carolina experimenting with more European style grapes and creating quite good wines out of them. I think NC wines are quite up and coming because of this.
The Cloer family takes great pride in producing an assortment of wines, ranging from crisp and refreshing whites to bold and robust reds.
Since wine tasting at a real vineyard in Raleigh is a rare event, we decided to start with a wine tasting flight each. For $6 you can taste all five wines made at Cloer: Wines include: Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Merlot, Carlos and Noble.
Moving down the flight from dry to sweet, we started with the Veranda, a semi sweet sauvignon Blanc. I don’t usually like Sauvignon Blanc, but I liked the crisp, dry taste of this wine. It didn’t feel too fruity for me like Savvy B normally does.
Next favorite for me, but favorite for our friends, was Riesling. This dry white had great hints of peach and apricot in it.
Next was Matador, a medium bodied Merlot that’s been barrel aged for 18 months in American and French Oak. An easy to drink wine that I would enjoy over Thanksgiving.
The last two wines were typical North Carolina muscadine, so expect sweet. The Carolos and Noble weren’t overly sweet and easy to drink. I wouldn’t drink a glass of it, but I enjoyed the sample.
Noble is the most popular red muscadine grape and its sweetness makes it a perfect dessert wine and is best served chilled.
We visited on a Friday, but on Saturdays they have their seasonal drink specials: wine spritzers in the spring, wine slushies in the summer, sangrias in the fall, and mulled wine in the winter.
Wines & Charcuterie Boards
It’s not just wine tasting here though, you can buy wine by the glass or bottle to enjoy on the property (or take home)
After our wine tasting we bought a bottle of the Veranda and Riesling to enjoy with a charcuterie board bought at Cloer’s.
Choose from a variety of NC products such as cheeses, salamis, cheese straws, cookies, peanuts and much more. They also have gluten free crackers (thank you!) We loved the cheeses and salami that we bought.
What an enjoyable afternoon we had with our friends, eating local cheese, drinking wine (from the Raleigh area) and catching up on six years of stories since we last saw them!
As we were on school pickup duty, we were able to take our bottle of Veranda home to finish on our veranda the next evening during a steak cookout. You can bring your own picnic, (but no outside alcohol) and your own chairs and picnic blankets.
You can also bring well-behaved pets to the winery – but keep them on a leash. There are sheep and horses on the farm you can visit, and pet, but do not feed them.
Check the event page for what’s coming up, including some fun seasonal and holiday events. The vineyard is open Fridays from 12-5 and Saturdays from 11-5 year-round (but closed for holidays)
Final Thoughts on This winery near raleigh
Cloer Family Vineyards goes beyond being a winery. It’s a destination where you can enjoy wine, food, and relaxation.
The beautiful tasting room and outdoor patio provide a tranquil urban escape and a cozy atmosphere to savor your favorite wine, soak in the scenic views, and make lasting memories with friends and family.
Whether you’re a wine enthusiast or someone looking for a delightful day in a forested farm setting, Cloer Family Vineyards has something for everyone.
We are thrilled to have discovered such a unique place close to home with decent wine. I know for sure we’ll be taking all our friends who come and visit us in Raleigh from now on.
Why wouldn’t we show off the fact that the Raleigh area has all these great things including a very enjoyable legit vineyard? I’m sorry to all my previous visiting friends that it’s taken me 11 years to discover it. Time for y’all to come back!