Westbend Vineyards closing to public March 2

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Westbend Vineyards and Brewhouse will close its winery, brewery and tasting room to the public on March 2. (Andrew Dye/Journal)

LEWISVILLE, N.C. — Westbend Vineyards in Lewisville, the first winery in Forsyth County, will close its winery, brewery and tasting room to the public on March 2.

Owner Lillian Kroustalis said that after more than 20 years, it’s time to move on.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve done here, but it’s an extremely time-consuming business, and I want to quit while we’re ahead,” she said.

Lillian and Jack Kroustalis planted their first vineyards in the 1970s. Instead of planting native muscadine grapes, they planted such European vinifera varieties as chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon — despite experts telling them the grapes wouldn’t grow well here.

Westbend became a bonded winery in 1988 and opened a tasting room in 1990. Even in 2000, Westbend was one of only about 20 wineries in the state. Now there are more than 100.

Jack Kroustalis died in 2006 at age 74, and Lillian has carried on the family business.

Lillian Kroustalis said that Westbend will continue to maintain the vineyard, which has some of the oldest — and thus prized — grapevines in the Yadkin Valley.

Meanwhile, Mark Terry, Westbend’s winemaker, has announced plans to open a wine and beer shop downtown. His daughter, Nicole Terry, will be the owner of Corks, Caps & Taps, which will be at 626 W. Fourth St., a couple doors down from Foothills Brewing. Mark Terry will be the manager.

The shop will focus on North Carolina beer and wine, but will carry beverages from around the world.

“With my years of experience, I want to offer a lot of educational classes as well — like pairing wine with cheese, the fundamentals of making wine,” Terry said.

Corks, Caps & Taps will sell beers and wine by the glass, as well as bottles to take home. The shop is expected to open in April. It also will sell Westbend’s existing inventory.

Kroustalis said that wine currently in tanks and barrels in the winery will be completed.

“Everything in the winery will be bottled as Westbend wine,” Kroustalis said. “We also have some custom-crush (private-label) customers, and all of those contracts will be honored.

“Westbend wine won’t be distributed to grocery stores, but it will be in Corks, Caps & Taps, and we can sell it to wholesalers if they ask us.”

Kroustalis said she has not made a decision about what to do with the grapes that will be harvested this summer.

“I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it,” she said.

Kroustalis said she will consider selling the vineyard, and even the Westbend name, if the right buyer comes along.

“I would love to see someone continue this as a vineyard and winery,” she said.

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