This Month Vol. 27 No. 11 Wine & Dine

An Evening in the Bucolic Bliss of JOLO Winery and Vineyards


Nestled within the heart of North Carolina’s picturesque landscape of Pilot Mountain sits one of America’s hidden gems – JOLO Winery & Vineyards. With its sprawling vineyards strewn across the horizon and the majestic Blue Ridge Mountain range as a backdrop, stepping into JOLO is stepping into an exquisite symbiosis of nature and human innovation.

Founded in 2010 by husband and wife duo JW and Kristen Ray, JOLO Winery embodies a dream built on their shared passion for viticulture and producing excellent wines. They named the winery as a combination of their two sons’ names, Joey and Logan, further emphasizing the family-inspired character of the winery.

As you approach the winery, what strikes you first is the modern architectural craftsmanship seamlessly blending with its scenic surroundings. But what truly sets JOLO Winery apart is the remarkable vineyard practices, utilizing state-of-the-art technology to cultivate a selection of grapes that thrive in the balmy Carolina climate.

JOLO Winery boasts an impressive portfolio of award-winning wines. Their crown jewel, the Golden Hallows Reserve, is a white blend that captures the essence of a classic Chardonnay. Vidal Blanc, Chardonnay and Viognier grapes weave an intoxicating aromatic profile of honeysuckle, peach, and pear with a harmonious balance of acidity and minerality. No less impressive is the JOLO Twinkles – a rosé wine with vibrant notes of strawberries and cream intermingled with a refreshing, crisp finish. Twinkles just captured a best of Class and 97 point score in the Experience Rose competition in Windsor, California.

Santé: You were raised in Massachusetts. Where have you lived?
JW: I am a Massachusetts native, then moved to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, then moved here to NC.
Santé: What does the Smoky Mountain region of North Carolina remind you of?
JW: This area reminds me of the Turin, Italy region.
Santé: How old are the JOLO vineyards?
JW: The first planting was in 2010, but when we acquired a 45-acre vineyard in 2020, those vines were planted in 1999. We currently have over 90 acres planted, half of which we have planted over the years, the other half we acquired in 2020.
Santé: How did you fund JOLO?
JW: It was mainly bootstrapped. After retiring from a cloud-based software company that I co-founded and acquired in 2010, my wife and I decided to live out our dream of living on a vineyard, raising our children here, and crafting fine wines with a jewel of a restaurant on site. So far, so good.

Their Crimson Creek, an exquisite single varietal wine, was awarded 98 points at the East Meets wine competition held in California and is emblematic of JOLO’s dedication to crafting superb wines. Designed from the Chambourcin grape – a French-American hybrid, it unravels a myriad of red fruit notes, black pepper spice, and an undercurrent of dark chocolate. This wine is a testament to the winery’s ability to create a sophisticated, full-bodied red outside traditional winemaking regions. 

Navigating through JOLO’s expansive wine offerings, visitors can experience the joys and intricacies of viticulture via their wine discovery classes and annual grape stomp. These interactive sessions provide a deeper appreciation of the art and science of winemaking.

Brimming with the pride of their creations, JOLO extends its visitors the chance to enjoy a unique gastronomic experience at their on-site high-end restaurant, End Posts. The restaurant is just as inviting as the winery, with an open-plan design that reveals sweeping views of the encircling vineyards.

The culinary journey at End Posts complements the ethos of JOLO Winery, mirroring their commitment to quality and savoring the essence of local produce. The food menu is thoughtfully concocted to pair harmoniously with their wines, creating an unparalleled wine and dining experience. From succulent, herb-encrusted lamb chops to delicate pan-seared scallops – every dish is crafted to elevate the nuances of JOLO’s wines.

The team at End Posts also provides personalized pairing suggestions, giving guests an opportunity to explore different wine and food synergies. Dining here, beneath the Carolina sky with the vineyard in view, you better understand why JW and Kristen Ray fell in love with this land and the nectar it provides. It’s not just about the food or the wine – it’s about cherishing the moments created around them.

Sample End Posts Menu

Beer Glazed Momma’s Meatloaf
pommes puree, sauteed seasonal vegetable
*Apricot Pork Ribeye
8 oz ribeye of pork topped with apricot glaze, pommes puree,
seasonal vegetable
Wine Braised Beef
Served with root vegetables and pommes puree
Cuban Bistec Milanesa
filet of beef, red peppers, onion, tomato sauce, and mozzarella served
with chimichurri and mojo fries
Coq Au Vin
chicken thighs, Dijon red-wine sauce, bacon, mushrooms, pearl onions,
served with pommes puree and seasonal vegetable
Goat Cheese Provencal
goat cheese covered with olive oil, lemon, tomato, caper, onion, garlic,
and basil, served with crostini
Crab Dip
served with crostini
*Tuna Carpaccio (served rare)
arugula, parmesan, capers, onion, EVOO

Pommes Frites
truffle, parmesan snow, roasted garlic herb mayo, herbs
Hummus $12.95
kalamata olives, tomatoes, onion, EVOO, crostini, vegetables
pineapple salsa, Caribbean rice and beans
*6 oz Salmon Scampi
pan-seared salmon, topped with shrimp (3), beurre
blanc sauce, pommes puree, and seasonal vegetable
Amalfi Coast Pesto Haddock
pan-seared haddock with olive oil, lemon juice, tomatoes, pesto,
parmesan cheese and basil with pommes puree and seasonal
*Outer Banks NC Scallops (3) & Risotto
mushroom, asparagus, peas, bacon, onion jam
*Pork Porchetta
pork belly wrapped pork loin with rosemary fennel lemon, slow
roasted served with risotto and caramelized onions

JOLO Winery & Vineyards is more than just a winery. It’s a sanctuary for those seeking an escape into the peaceful rhythms of the countryside, an educational hub for wine enthusiasts, and a gastronomical paradise for food lovers. Through their award-winning wines and exceptional dining experience, JOLO has carved its niche in the winemaking landscape, not just in North Carolina, but the United States. To encapsulate the experience at JOLO winery, one needs to quote Robert Louis Stevenson, “Wine is bottled poetry,” indeed, you taste poetry in every sip of JOLO wines.

2 comments on “An Evening in the Bucolic Bliss of JOLO Winery and Vineyards

  1. Robert D'Amelio

    Amazing Wines!! Amazing Host!! Ray Family Rocks!

  2. scpinc44bc131b29

    JOLO Winery provides an outstanding experience starting with their wonderful wines, outstanding food choices and exceptional customer service. Highly recommended.
    Antonio – Winston Salem, NC

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