ASHEVILLE – While brewery tours abound, there hasn’t been much in the way of wine tours in Asheville. Now, two local women have decided to change that.
New wine tours for WNC
Kelly Denson of All American Food Fights and Kasey Hotchkiss of Asheville Detours have launched Blue Ridge Wine Tours, which explores the growing world of Western North Carolina wine.
Tour groups will meet local winemakers, explore vineyards with mountain views and, of course, drink locally made wines.
Hendersonville’s main tourism department says its wine region, known as the Crest of the Blue Ridge, was named an American Viticultural Area in 2019, joining fewer than 300 similarly federally dedicated areas in the United States.
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards was the first to open in the county in 2012, according to the tourism department.
Van tours depart downtown Asheville, then hit three different Hendersonville wineries. Included in the tours are wine tastings and field and facility explorations, all led by a guide knowledgeable in what makes this particular wine region distinct.
Blue Ridge Wine Tours start at $165 per person. Tours begin May 1, 2021
Madness Sushi, Burger officially open
The Madness Sushi, Burger and Bar just hosted its grand opening on April 8, and already has an expansion planned.
Aaron Cheng, who is behind Asheville’s two locations of Yum Sushi and Poke, is also the restauranteur behind The Madness, now open at 275 Smokey Park Highway.
As the name suggests, The Madness combines a sushi, burger restaurant and full bar under one roof. You can go for restrained fare like ceviche or snapper carpaccio, or you could try entrees like The Madness, which piles spicy crab salad on an Angus beef burger.
Now, city permits indicate Cheng plans to take over several units at 1020 Merrimon Ave., the former location of Early Girl North.
The Scarlet Bee moves
One local restaurant is moving at the end of April after lease renewal negotiations fell through.
The owners of North Asheville restaurant The Scarlet Bee, Matt and Kristin Sawaya, knew their lease was ending this year. Then, they found out other restaurant owners were negotiating for their space.
Helen Kaltsunis, the owner of the Merrimon Avenue building where Scarlet Bee has served Mediterranean fare since 2018, said in early April she had not yet signed a lease with a new tenant, but that she needs to be able to afford her ill husband’s care.
The Scarlet Bee owners are determined to reopen elsewhere and say they’re leaning toward a food truck. “Financially we believe it will be our best option at this time,” the couple said in an email. “We will miss our brick and mortar location, but will not let this experience be our downfall.”
They’ve since launched a GoFundMe to support their venture.
“Luckily, the neighborhood and community have really gotten behind us with donations, new space ideas and ordering as much as they can to help us out,” they said. “We have really felt the love and support from all of you.”
Scarlet Bee remains open until the end of April at 853 Merrimon Ave.
Table gets ready to open
Table restaurant, closed since March 15 of last yea, is ready to reopen in the coming weeks in a new space with a cozy footprint at 18 N. Lexington Ave., the former home of Calypso.
The restaurant will also get a tweaked name: Table Right Here. It will also get an adjoining bar: Right There Bar, serving straightforward bar fare and a whisky-forward cocktail menu.
This new version of Table will still serve modern-American fare, though there will be a bit of a Mediterranean feel in pasta dishes and other ingredients.
Table Right Here should open in the coming weeks, though it’s been a bit delayed due to staff hiring challenges similar to what other restaurants in the city and beyond are experiencing.
At the newly reimagined Table, there will be space for up to 35 in the dining room, which longtime Asheville residents will remember as the BoBo dance floor. More can line up at a window-side dining rail. A 500-square-foot terraced patio in the alley will hold up to 30 and accommodate late-night bargoers.
Mackensy Lunsford has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years, and has been a staff writer for the Asheville Citizen Times since 2012. Lunsford is a former professional line cook and one-time restaurant owner.
Reach me: [email protected].