JOLO is one of the newest wineries on the scene in the Yadkin valley area, so when we finally had a free Saturday we knew we had to go. We decided to start with brunch and then do a tasting.
We were greeted by a copious, standoffish waitstaff: Several busboys and waitresses who were incredulous that we hadn't made reservations for the (mostly empty) restaurant. You know how first impressions are so important? If I were on a date with JOLO, I would have walked right out after 5 minutes, making up some fake emergency. Instead, we were hungry and sober, so we decided to stick it out. We were escorted into the dining room, decked out in velvet finery not quite befitting the rural North Carolina setting. The menu was full of Southern staples like a BLT, a fancy burger with a steep price point, fried green tomatoes, scallops and risotto and so on. I settled on the Parisian salad, and Jesse got the special: Roasted chicken with succotash. The wine list was numbered so you could select a wine to go with your food choice. We both settled on a glass of the JOLO rose.
In all, the food was good, but it just seemed a little over the top and incongruous with the setting. For example, they brought us a tufted ottoman to put our purses on, there was a crystal doohickey to rest your knife on, and so much velvet it looked like a fabric store. We paid our bill and moved to the tasting room to see if they could redeem themselves.
Instead, we waited at the counter for over 5 minutes without anyone even greeting us or making eye contact. A waitress finally took pity on us and got us set up for the tasting. You could try 5 wines for $7, or for $15 you could try 8 wines and keep a fancy glass. We opted for the lower-end tasting, since our cabinets are already chock full of glasses. Once they found out how cheap we were, they shuffled us to the end of the bar where the poor people tastings were set up. We were ready to continue hating on the whole experience, but we actually really did like all of the wines. Our server remained distant throughout the tasting, so at the end of our tenure we came to the unanimous decision that we've been there, done that, and don't need to do that again.
The people: 1
From the moment we arrived, we felt out of place and unwanted. While we were having lunch, the owner even walked right by our table and didn't say a thing. (There was only one other table full in the whole restaurant.) We were ignored before and during the tasting, and felt like an imposition during our lunch. You could tell that the owners were not Southerners by birth...
The place: 3
The setting is actually gorgeous, with views of Pilot Mountain in the background. The restaurant looks like an old hunting estate, and it has an exposed kitchen. You can see the food prep during your tasting, which wasn't our favorite. The staff was all so haughty that it really brought them down a few points.
The wine: 3
Despite everything else, we actually liked their wines. Big, bold reds, crisp whites. The price point was a bit high, but we both left with a bottle. It irked us that they didn't have a bucket to dump out wine you didn't like (how pretentious!) and that they didn't rinse our glasses for the transition from red to sweet. However, they did have a wine tap that they used to serve the tasting, which we hadn't seen before.
So, all in all I'm glad we got this one off our list. It's a beautiful place to visit, so maybe if you're trying to impress a date or some friends from out of town, it'd be a good choice. Otherwise, we'll stick with our quaint little wineries and call it a day.
#YOLO #JOLO #NEVERAGAIN