By Wendy Byerly Wood
Walking the streets of downtown Mount Airy it’s no secret that the town is all about Andy Griffith and Mayberry, as it is his hometown, proudly announced to visitors by the silhouette of Andy and Opie going fishing on the water tower seen prominently a few blocks from Main Street near the intersection of U.S. 601 and U.S. 52.
For shop owner Sandra Barnett, the focus of the Main Street store sitting amongst the tourist stops in downtown is to share a taste of the Yadkin Valley wine country with those visitors, but not without a touch of Mayberry hinted at on the store’s house wines and in the shop’s name.
Uncorked in Mayberry, what once was primarily a retail shop for Yadkin Valley wines, is growing into something much more with Barnett’s recent purchase of the established store.
Originally owned and operated by another downtown business owner, who still has a presence at another store in the historic district, Barnett acquired the wine shop in August 2014.
“We were looking at opening a shop on Main Street and were looking for a building,” explained Barnett. She learned that the previous owner was wanting to sell, so she jumped at the chance to own her own wine store.
“Liz (Blevins)and I were going to open a gift shop, but when this came available, I bought it and she works part-time with me,” said Barnett, who said she’s always enjoyed drinking wine and has learned a lot more about it in the last year she’s owned the shop.
Blevins, a transplant from Florida who moved to the area with her husband who is originally from Surry County 10 years ago, had worked for seven and a half years at downtown winery, Old North State Winery, serving as tasting manager so she was familiar with the ins and outs of the wine industry.
“I wanted something more fun, and I found out about the wine industry,” Blevins said.
“Our focus is on a lot of the smaller wineries not being mass distributed in the grocery stores,” said Blevins. “It’s like a one-stop shop for Yadkin Valley wines. We introduce people to the Yadkin Valley wine region.
“People from out of town don’t realize it is a wine region until they come in,” she said.
While Uncorked in Mayberry had been for its five or six years of existence simply a retail shop, Barnett and Blevins are transitioning it into a wine bar, tasting room and shop with wine accessories. They also have added craft beers, as Barnett secured her ABC license to expand the offerings.
“You can come in and drink wine and sample craft beer. We have Ashe County cheeses that can be snacked on, and we do Nancy’s chocolate-covered truffles,” said Barnett, noting that Nancy’s candy is made in nearby Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Another offering is local wine jellies, and hand-rolled cigars from Mark Bullin.
The shop offers varieties from 20 Yadkin Valley wineries now and the duo is hoping to add more in the near future.
The walls display local art, and a couple of times a month Uncorked is the site of live music, with a schedule found on the shop’s Facebook page and website.
For those seeking out a place to entertain or host an event, Barnett said they will open at night for private events and parties.
While all of the wines aren’t available for tasting all the time, Barnett said weekly the shop rotates out varieties for tasting availability. “We are not just a wine retail shop,” she said, with Blevins adding it is a wine shop and wine bar.
“We are trying to transition to somewhere people can come out and have a glass of wine, relax and visit with friends,” said Barnett.
“I like being involved in my hometown and being downtown,” she said of why she wanted to join the dozens of other downtown entrepreneurs. “To me, this is home.
“I enjoy meeting the tourists and those traveling on vacation. I’m excited to be here. That’s what I love — the wines, support locals and meeting the people. I’ve had visitors from Australia, Europe and a lot from Ohio, and it’s exciting. It’s fun being part of it, the town growing,” said Barnett.
“And we’re producing some great unique wines,” added Blevins of the region. “We are supporting the locals with the wine, jellies, beer and more.”
In addition to other Yadkin Valley wines, the shop offers four of its own house wines — Floyd’s Flat Top, a semisweet made with a Niagra grape; Andy’s Blend, a sweet muscadine; Otis’ Own, a pinot chardonnay blend; and Barney’s Nip, a merlot.
“That is a big thing for us, and they are good wines,” said Barnett of the wines sitting a top a barrel on display as visitors walk through the front doors of the shop.
Uncorked in Mayberry is open seven days a week at 126 N. Main St., Mount Airy, and can be found on Facebook at Uncorked.