Off The Beaten Path

Off The Beaten Path: Small town wine markets with character and spirit
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(Left to right) Crocodile Wine; Hoopers Creek Wine Market & Crate Wine Market & Project.

Lets face it, despite all of the online wine clubs, subscription services, and deep discount deals at Trader Joe’s, you still see the same labels again and again. The consolidation and simplification of the wine industry in recent years seems to have left us with more ways of getting the same boring wines. We think that might be why we’ve seen the increasing resurgence in the popularity of the neighborhood wine shops all over Western North Carolina lately. After all, it’s nice to know that on the drive home there is a place to drop in where a friendly neighbor can help make the hard decisions for you. Decisions like, “Which wine pairs best with pork loin?”, “What’s the appropriate wine to say ‘I’m sorry’,” or even simply, “do I want red, white, or rosé tonight?” 

Crocodile Wine Asheville
Hidden in plain sight like any good camouflaged croc on the prowl, Crocodile Wines is tucked behind and under a pizza shop on a busy downtown strip. But through the quiet doorway, you’ll find a wellspring of curated wines from around the world. Specializing in natural wines made organically and with natural yeasts, you’re sure to find the funk you’ve been looking for, or perhaps, didn’t even know you’d been craving. 27 Biltmore Ave. #003; (828)505-2551;

Hoopers Creek Wine Market Fletcher
Tucked away on the back roads of Fletcher is a tiny bottle shop with a big personality. A family owned mom-and-pop shop, Josh and Mollie Feierstein opened the shop after Josh left a career as a geologist, a background that gives him a deep understanding of the terroir that gives wines their unique flavors. The shop revolves around unique, natural, and low-intervention wines. Hosting free weekly Thursday tastings and food truck Fridays, it’s a great place to find your next favorite libation. 142 Hoopers Creek Rd.; (828) 483-6309; 

Crate Wine Market & Project Hendersonville
A pristine boutique look with a neighborhood wine shop feel, Crate offers a carefully-curated selection of wines that run the gamut of nearly every price point. So whether you are looking for something swanky for a special occasion or an affordable porch-pounder for the bonfire this weekend, they’ve got you covered. They also offer the Crate Loot wine club, where for $48 a month you get three specially-curated bottles of wine that are not otherwise available at the shop, as well as a 10% discount on everything else on the shelves. 100 Daniel Dr.; (828) 696-3283;