Once upon a time in the land of Yadkin, near the heart of what is now the Yadkin Valley Wine appellation Region, Frank W. Hobson, Jr. and his wife, Lenna, grew 125 acres of tobacco, rotated the land with crops of corn, wheat, and soybeans and expected to happily continue this routine for many years to come. Then came the demise of tobacco giving rise to Frank’s worst nightmare: that his beloved family farm would become a housing development. So, with the unwavering goal of finding a ‘Plan B’ that would allow the farm to remain agricultural and profitable, Frank began a hunt that ended with the planting of a vineyard in 2000 and the subsequent construction of a winery in 2002.
Confident that the burgeoning viticulture industry had great potential and would also honor the goals of Frank and Lenna to keep the land agricultural and profitable for the next generation, planting a vineyard was a natural choice. Frank planted the first vineyards in April 2000 and after a season of watching the first grapevines take root, grow and thrive, Frank and Lenna looked at each other and said: “Let us get both feet wet! Let us plant more vines, hire a professional winemaker, build a winery and become real vintners!!”
After the decision was made to enter the arena of vintners, Lenna and Frank Hobson named their vineyards and subsequent winery after Frank’s championship show calf. RagApple Lassie, a registered Holstein, was given to Frank by his father to raise as his 4-H Show Calf in l956. In the fifties, it was de rigueur for farm boys (and girls) to have a show calf, and Frank did such a good job caring for and training RagApple Lassie that together they won the Grand Championship Trophy at the 1957 North Carolina State Fair.
Hence, the RagApple Lassie Vineyards logo is RagApple Lassie wearing the ubiquitous black cocktail dress, appropriate jewelry baubles, and swinging on the ‘Carolina Moon’ with knees together and ankles crossed just as all Southern belles are taught. This depiction of RagApple on a new moon, indicative of a “new” beginning, venture, etc. adorns all things RagApple Lassie, including, of course, the signature Holstein design. An additional nuance of the logo is the left-facing crescent which is a symbol of ‘Good luck in Chinese lore (as opposed to the traditional right-facing crescent)!
RagApple Lassie Winery is constructed of common galvalume and concrete. Designed by UNC Charlotte School of Architecture Graduating Seniors led by their Professor Greg Snyder, it was designed to look like typical farm buildings in Yadkin County complete with the requisite silo. However, that is where typical’ ends. The silo houses a circular staircase that leads to the underground wine cellar that now hosts the famed
RagApple Lassie tasting room. A forty feet wide mural painted by a local artist depicts the romance and mystique of vineyards. The winery’s main entrance is via a catwalk running along the North wall ceiling allowing one to look down upon the fermentation tanks and the entrance to the Wine Cellar tasting room. The catwalk displays pictures of Frank with RagApple Lassie, pictures of the first grape harvest, and other family mementos. Parading across a large wall at the end of the catwalk is a storyboard titled “A Year in the Life of a Vineyard” outlining the monthly activities required to maintain a vineyard.
RagApple Lassie Vineyards, its owners, and winemaker have garnered lots of great publicity and many awards for its stable of fine wines, but don’t take our word for it! Come taste for yourself! As one of the few wineries in North Carolina owned by career farmers, you will be welcomed every day year ‘round except Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day, noon to six pm, as a special guest, and at least one family member is always present in the tasting room.
Guests are encouraged to linger, ask questions, check the score of the day’s big game on the big screen TV, enjoy a leisurely glass of wine, walk through the vineyards, or enjoy a picnic on the grounds.
According to Frank, getting from ‘Point A’ (a five hundred acre farm growing tobacco, corn, wheat, and soybeans) to ‘Point B’ (the planting of a vineyard in 2000) to THE ‘PLAN B’ (construction of a winery in 2002) was a “hell of a ride,” but both Frank and Lenna say the ‘trip’ has been phenomenal, and they would do it all over again! They had a great time! Frank passed away in June of 2019 after a two-year fight against cancer and Lenna followed closely behind in 2020. They left their legacy to continue to be nurtured to Brad, their son, and his wife, Lori, along with "grandson #1" Tanner.
As you will see when you visit us we are still a full operation farm, Frank would be very happy knowing that. We still grow corn, soybeans, wheat along with our grapes. We also grow a little tobacco too!
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