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  • Writer's pictureKelly Cave

North Carolina Wine Month: USS NC Battleship

When we travel, we make it a point to visit new wineries along the route. Our North Carolina Wine Month celebration kicked off with the Taste of North Carolina event held on the USS North Carolina battleship in Wilmington.

Following brunch and a short visit with family, we journeyed to Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram, our second visit to this eastern vineyard. Cypress Bend's tasting experience doubles as a history lesson of Scotland County. The vineyard property has been in the Smith family since 1807. Who says you can't go home again. Dan and Tina Smith returned to the family property in 2002 with the dream of growing native Muscadine grapes such as, Carlos, Noble and Magnolia. Not only have they grown the grapes they have taken muscadine wine to new heights. They have created wines that range from dry to sweet. Danette, our tasting room host, guided us through a tasting of their dry-to-sweet wines, while Amanda, the events coordinator, joined in our wine discussions. Our favorite white, Christina's Magnolia Estate, offered a blend of dry muscadine with citrus hints and the distinct flavor of the magnolia grape. Autumn, our favorite red, surprised us with its aromatic muscadine profile, both at room temperature and chilled. After our tasting, we shared a bottle of their To-Morrow, a North Carolina Muscadine Cup Winner, on the patio looking over the vineyard and their event space. Running into Tina, the owner, outside, we delved into conversations about muscadine wines and even got a behind-the-scenes look at their production facility, meeting James, their winemaker. Tina talked at length on the health benefits of the muscadine grape. I have since then began my own reserch on the health benefits of North Carolina's native grape. It was an enriching experience, tasting the various muscadine wines and learning about their operation. Whether you favor sweet or dry wines, Cypress Bend has something for everyone. For upcoming events, visit their website.

Our next stop was Grapefull Sisters Vineyard, Inn and Campground in Tabor City, owned by sisters, Amy and Sheila. From the outset, the staff, including Happy, exuded warmth and hospitality. Their pet-friendly policy resonated with us, being pet lovers ourselves. Situated near popular beach destinations like Myrtle, Ocean Isle, and Sunset, Grapefull Sisters provides a perfect getaway for both locals and tourists. The wine tasting is only the start of your experience. Cam, our tasting room host, offered her favorite pairings with each wine. You also get to sample their various locally made jams and jellies. Nestled in tobacco farmland that has been in the Suggs family for 9 generations, the tasting room offers a serene escape, reflecting their commitment to creating a welcoming environment. After the tasting, we couldn't resist lounging on the porch swing with a glass of wine. The Cellar, their event venue, adds to the charm, hosting various summer entertainment. They also offer peach and quiet lodging upstairs or camping with full hook ups. This winery experience was truly a relaxing experience. For details, check their website.


The Taste of North Carolina, organized by the North Carolina Wine Growers Association, offers a delightful wine and food pairing experience. Held in different wine-growing regions, this was the first in Wilmington, hosted on the USS North Carolina. Fifteen North Carolina wineries and local restaurants/caterers showcased their offerings on the battleship's deck, complemented by tours of the ship. This was our third Taste of North Carolina event. Most wineries presented both red and white wines, with some offering more varieties. Childress Vineyards sold a commemorative USS North Carolina red wine, with proceeds supporting the ship's upkeep. Winery owners and winemakers poured their creations, providing a unique opportunity for interaction. The event's setting, overlooking Wilmington at sunset, was truly breathtaking, offering newcomers a chance to explore the diversity of North Carolina's wine industry in one place. This month is a great time to start or continue your wine journey by visiting our great wineries. Not sure where to start? You can check our website, Winey Friends, where we blog about our experiences or for a complete listing of all North Carolina wineries check out this website.

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