The Blue Ridge Mountains serve as backdrop for the grapevines at Raffaldini Vineyards.
North Carolina’s heartland includes the densely populated Triad region of Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and High Point; the Triangle region of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill; and the state’s largest city, Charlotte, with its never-ending sprawl. Far more people live in the Piedmont than in the western and eastern regions of North Carolina combined. At first glance, you might not think the Piedmont would be particularly favorable for scenic backroads, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, you don’t have to drive very far outside any of the metropolitan areas to find scenery and historical features every bit as good as anywhere else in the state.
The region’s beauty lies largely in its pastoral settings. Agriculture has always been important to North Carolina and remains so today. In the Piedmont, you’ll see rolling fields of corn, wheat, and soybeans. And of course, tobacco. North Carolina was built on a foundation of tobacco farms, and the state remains the largest producer in the nation. In the last few decades, dozens of vineyards have popped up in the Piedmont region, adding another picturesque quality to the countryside.
While much of the Piedmont landscape has been altered by man, there are still places where nature holds a good grip on the reins. Uwharrie National Forest protects some fifty thousand acres of the gentle Uwharrie Mountains, and a number of state parks and nature preserves are here. We’ll visit many of these places and explore the rich history of the region.