« Museum membership: LIke a free pass at other museums | Main | Exotic birds in Everglades National Park »

Can you trust your GPS? A North Carolina adventure

We plugged the street address of South Creek Winery into the GPS unit as we left Asheville and drove east for a little wine-tasting. About 45 miles later, we found an ugly warehouse and an asphalt parking lot just off Interstate 40, with no vines, no sign of wine-making. But it was not yet noon, and as we checked the list of wineries we’d brought with us, we saw on the listing that the winery wasn’t open for tasting at this hour anyway. Rather than investigate, we decided to go to lunch and come back afterwards. It was a pretty fall day, and we didn’t mind a scenic detour.

We headed for Morgantown, and ate at Judge's Riverside Restaurant, which specializes in BBQ. We sat out on a wooden deck in the October sun, overlooking the Catawba River. I was on a pulled-pork kick at the time, and Judge’s version was a fine one.

Back in the car, I wasn’t quite ready to give up on the GPS unit. I was showing it off to my friends, who had not been sold on the value of the device when we set out, and were even more dubious now. WineryThe small map we had wasn’t detailed enough to get us to the winery. After some circling and doubling back, though, even I was ready to throw the GPS unit out the window.

We eventually got to South Creek Winery  in Nebo by asking directions from people we passed. It was nowhere near where the GPS unit had taken us. We parked next to the grapevines and went inside. When we told our story to the woman behind the counter, she threw up her hands and said she’d called the people who do the mapping, but they had not done anything to fix the problem. We were not the first people to be led astray by a navigation system. "People should just call us for directions," she said.

The woman was Mary Rowley, who owns the winery with her husband, James. They had bought it about 15 months earlier, and were still selling mostly wines made by the former owner. We were far from North Carolina’s prime wine grape region, the Yadkin Valley, but these wines were good and we left with several bottles.

GrapevinesMary Rowley gave us directions, and we got back to the highway without any more trouble. I turned on the GPS unit as we left, and it couldn’t even tell me the name of the street we were driving on. It was a worthy lesson for me not to rely solely on technology, even though this was the first time in 18 months that the GPS unit had misled me. When I got home, I put my big road atlas back in the car.

Photos: South Creek Winery