Sunday, December 14, 2014

Rating some of our favorite North Carolina wineries

By Dathan Kazsuk | Dec, 2014
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

North Carolina is home to some 126 wineries –  from the mountains to the coast. With that many wineries, one should be able to find a variety of reds or whites that should quench your thirst. Sure, North Carolina doesn’t compare with the quantity of California’s 3,600-plus wineries and vineyards – but this actually gives one a chance to make a dent in what our own state has to offer.

Over the course of the past couple years, Jen and I have visited 30 of the 126 wineries. Yes, we still have our work cut out for us. And we’re always waiting for an opportunity to take a day trip to visit some more.


So what we decided to do is take those 30 wineries we have visited and make up our Top 10 list. And just how did we rank these wineries? We used a combination of cost of the wines, the atmosphere surrounding the location, an overall taste of all the wines the winery has to offer, as well as the ambiance and the hospitality received from the staff at each location.


So here is our Top 10 list … so far:






No. 10: Medaloni Cellars, Lewisville

Relatively new to Jen and myself, this winery impressed us with its 22-acres of vineyards, indoor and outdoor tasting rooms and cabin rentals (including one tree-house rental). The tasting room was nice and rustic with a burning fireplace and many tables and chairs to enjoy your wine and picnic. 


The winery has around 10 wines available to sample and purchase, which include a couple Chardonnays, a Merlot, a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Rosé. Medaloni’s cabins are available for a 2-day rental that range from $150 to $250 per night.





No. 9: Childress Vineyards, Lexington

Next on our list is Childress Vineyards. NASCAR team owner Richard Childress opened the doors to his vineyard in 2004, fulfilling a dream he had when he would race back in California race tracks. Childress sits on 72 acres where they produce over 30 different types of wines – from Cabernet Franc all the way down to Muscadine.


While the tastings are a tad on the higher side ($12-$15 per person) for either the Cellar Select or Barrel Select tastings – the atmosphere of this larger vineyard could make up for it with its outdoor patio, shopping and down-home hospitality.






No. 8: Windsor Run Cellars, Hamptonville

Windsor Run Cellars produce a blend of wine and fortified wines, such as their Cherry Smash, Ratafia and Midnight Run. These fortified wines are made by adding brandy which is produced in Windsor Run Cellars own legal moonshine still. The staff at Windsor Run Cellars has always been incredibly friendly and is quick to suggest food pairings for each of their wines.


Here’s a word of advice. If you are coming in as a couple, purchase two full tastings for $9 each. Yes, for $18, you and your partner will be able to try all 12 wines (Windsor Run Cellars and Ferguson Vineyards) as well as all four of the fortified wines. And you come home with two wine glasses and two shot glasses. Score.






No. 7: Laurel Gray Vineyards, Hamptonville

Nice and quaint. Easy to find. Friendly staff. And a great selection of wine is why Laurel Gray should be on your list while exploring the wines in the Swan Creek area of Yadkin Valley.


The winery features 6 red wines, 4 white wines and 3 dessert wines on their tasting list, and they pair some of those with their personal line of sauces which include a Chardonnay Caramel Sauce, Crazy ‘Bout Butts Barbecue Sauce and the always amazing Chocolate Cabernet Wine Sauce.


So be sure to swing by and visit the Myers family inside the old 1930s milking parlor for a great time and some worth-tasting N.C. wines.






No. 6: Banner Elk Winery, Banner Elk

Resting on top of a picturesque hill overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, Banner Elk offers its guests award winning wines and a place to stay at The Villa – a luxurious bed & breakfast on the premises.


Although the price of tastings has gone up since the last time we visited the winery, they still serve up great wines such as its Cabernet Sauvignon, Seyval Blanc, Marechal Foch and the ever popular Banner Elk Blueberry and Ice Wines. 


Banner Elk is a hop, skip and a jump away from Blowing Rock and Boone – so be sure to look them up next time you are in the mountains.





No. 5: Hanover Park Vineyards, Yadkinville

People can make a place very inviting, and that’s exactly what Michael and Amy Helton will do as soon as you step foot inside Hanover Park Vineyards. The Old World style this couple puts into their wines really shows in some of their red wines such as the Chambourcin, Mourvedre and the 1897 (a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in oak for almost 5 years).


This family run business produces quality wines with only 8 acres of land – so you’ll need to act fast on some of the most popular wines here, because they will sell out quick. You can taste all the wines they have to offer for $10, which is a great value.




No. 4: Round Peak Vineyards, Mt. Airy

This one ranks high in Dathan’s book because not only do you get to sample Round Peak’s wines, but they’re housed in the same building with Skull Camp Wines and Skull Camp Brewing. Yes. Beer! 

First, Round Peak has a great selection of dry French- and Italian-style wines. They will typically have wines such as Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon available. As well as some other different styles in the likes of the Matrimonio Parfait and the La Petite Vendange (a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Viognier).

Skull Camp wines features more obscure style wines with names like Dedication, Confusion, Flirtation and Temptation. These are all worth a try if you like more fruit-style wines with blackberry, cherry, honeysuckle and apple. 

While we were there, we sampled a flight of 5 different beers which included a pumpkin beer, brown ale, and a couple IPAs, including the DIPA, Knuckle Dragger.


No. 3: Shelton Vineyards, Dobson

Sure, it’s one of the oldest wineries in the Yadkin Valley, so most people have heard or drank a Shelton wine in the past. But it’s a fun place to visit. Enjoy shopping in the vast tasting room, where you can try flights of red and/or white wines. Take a tour of the establishment for an interesting trip along this tobacco farm. Catch a live show on occasions during the weekend, or enjoy an amazing lunch or dinner at the Harvest Grill right next door. 

For $5 per person, you can sample wines on the regular tour and tasting, or for $20 you can take a tour of the 33,000-square foot winery, and sample 6 reserve wines, chocolates and a souvenir crystal wine glass.

You can easily spend a couple hours enjoying all Shelton Vineyards has to offer.



No. 2: JOLO Winery & Vineyards, Pilot Mountain

On a nice day, JOLO offers enough of a scenic view to keep you there the entire day. With Pilot Mountain literally the backdrop to this winery, it’s a perfect place to unwind with a bottle of wine for lunch or dinner in the End Posts.

This 80-acre property offers indoor and outdoor seating, fishing in nearby Cox Lake, a private dining room available for rentals, and of course, great wine. Be sure to try JOLO’s wines such as Jolotage (a red wine blend), Crimson Creek (Chambourcin) and the Happy Endings (dessert wine).


No. 1: Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery, Ronda

We’ve finally reached the No. 1 winery in our opinion thus far. This Tuscan-style villa is a picture perfect place to spend the afternoon. This scenic winery offers great wine, artwork, snacks and a beautiful view of the surrounding area as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains.


Downstairs you’ll find the tasting stations, where an employee takes you through a flight of all their available wines for $7 per person. Raffaldini offers an assortment of reds, whites and some sparklings all done in an Italian Old World style. They also offer one a chance to take a “Private Label Tour” which runs $30 per person. On this tour you see the behind-the-scenes of the winery as they walk you through the creation of a bottle. Vineyard tours are also available for $5 per person.


Upstairs you can hang out in the meeting room with family or friends and still enjoy the view from on top of the villa. On normal days, it’s a great place to escape from all the people downstairs taking part in the tastings. But during events, the entire villa fills up rather quickly.


Great wines. Lovely views. Nice and knowledgeable staff. Raffaldini has it all – and it why we ranked this winery first in our list of wineries we’ve been to so far.



Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas ideas: Artisan gifts, local shops, shelters and stocking stuffers

LOCAL FEATURES

By Dathan Kazsuk | Dec, 2014
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

With Christmas rearing its ugly head, I’m sure there are a lot of people who have no idea what to buy for family and friends. I’m one of them. I’m at that point in my life where I really don’t “need” anything. I need food. I need water. I need sunlight. But I don’t need that Xbox One or Yeti cooler just to be trendy. There are a lot of less fortunate people out there that really do need items to survive the winter months. Jackets for children whose parents can’t afford to pay their energy bills. Homeless men, women and children that go to shelters during the holidays to get nourishment in the form of donated foods like turkey, ham and all the fixings.


The Salvation Army does something known as the Angel Tree. This seems like a good idea for the less fortunate. With close to 9,000 kids registered in this program, individuals can help these kids by donating clothes and toys.

There’s also those furry ones we call pets. They need homes and love from generous families. It was really nice to see how many families after Thanksgiving went out to places like the SPCA of Wake County, SAFE Haven for Cats and Second Chance Pet Adoptions to pick up a shelter animal, and give them loving homes. This is by far the best way to go. Sure, every animal should have a loving home, but I think families going through a shelter prove their weight in gold. 
  
                       
Shelter animals, local artisan gifts, chocolates and more 
are perfect gifts for Christmas this year.

So, if you’re looking for great stocking stuffers, there are so many great local places to check out. Right down the road from my house is the relatively new shop, Going Local NC. The shop has over 75 artisans from the mountains to the coast. There you can find soaps, jewelry, paintings, candles and specialty-made cards for all occasions. You are bound to find something for a loved one.

Lafayette Village also features a slew of local businesses with presents to fill the stockings. With places such as The Olive Wagon, Gigi’s Boutique, Savory Spice Shop, The Chocolate Shop and Novel Tea, the stuffings should be stuffed – and please do so with care.

If you plan on placing craft beer or fine wine under your tree – or to open up during a holiday party – Raleigh has many shops that can fulfill your needs. It all depends on where you live, but shops like BottleMixx, Wine 101-Raleigh, Tasty Beverage, Ridgewood Wine & Beer Shop, The Hop Yard, Uncorked, Seaboard Wine & Tasting Bar, Bottle Revolution or Lincoln Bottle Shop will have what you’re looking for.

One thing I like to do for my parents back home in California is send them a package filled with North Carolina goodies. And we have a lot to choose from. Larry’s Beans (Raleigh); Counter Culture Coffee (Durham); Videri Chocolate Factory (Raleigh); Escazu Chocolate (Raleigh); Forever Bella Soaps (Raleigh); Wicks for Wags (Raleigh) … and this is to name only a few.

So in hindsight, Christmas can be fun, just don’t be obnoxious about it. Don’t gloat over gifts. Don’t run over people trying to find a parking spot. Respect those less fortunate than yourself. Buy gifts that have a sentimental value. And buy local when trying to fill the space under your tree.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

North Carolina Winery/Brewery Shines in Mount Airy

By Jennifer Primrose | Nov 8, 2014
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown
_________________________________________________________________________


North Carolina boasts some wonderful day trips and our day trip to Mount Airy did not disappoint as we discovered two great wineries that we plan to visit again in the future. 

Read about our first stop at JOLO Winery & Vineyards here.

After visiting “Mayberry” for a bit we headed over to Round Peak Vineyards, just minutes from Mount Airy. Little did we know, or perhaps Dathan knew, that Skull Camp Brewing was part of Round Peak’s establishment.  His face lit up knowing he would not only be able to sample some wine, but also beer.

When we arrived, the place was crowded with a group of 20 or so visitors placing their orders for both wine samples and flights of beer as they headed directly outside to the patio area overlooking the scenic foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As we patiently waited for the crowd to place their orders and retreat, we took our time scanning the wine and beer list while watching Michigan State football on the flat screen.



Round Peak Vineyards, along with Skull Camp Winery/Brewery is located in Mount Airy, NC
Wine samples were $1 a pour – which included both Round Peak and Skull Camp’s repertoire. We found the Round Peak wines to be pleasant, aged in both French and Italian barrels. Skull Camp Winery describes their wines as “fun semi-dry wines” with names such as Anticipation, Indulgence, Dedication, Flirtation and Infatuation. We tried a rosé named Confusion as well as Infatuation, a red dessert wine. Both wines were good and not overly sweet.

Next we decided on a flight of beer to split. The beer samples range from $1.25 to $1.50 for 3 oz. pours. We tried all five they had to offer with Dathan’s favorite being the Knuckle Dragger, a Double India Pale Ale.

Overall, we had a great experience at Round Peak/Skull Camp Winery. When visiting wineries, I not only base my opinion on the wines but also the atmosphere and service. I have to say, when we first walked in and saw so many people crowded around the bar, I was a little concerned. However, the staff promptly had everyone served as they all shuffled outside with their libations and left a near empty tasting room for ourselves.

Following our tasting, we walked around the grounds to check out the area. They have a great patio area out back overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a couple of cabins for rent that I am curious to check out sometime. They are pet and RV friendly. Before leaving we picked up our his-and-hers Skull Camp T-shirts. They also sell pint glasses and tulips in addition to their wines and growlers of beer.

The question of the day ... Will we be back?  Yes! We look forward to another trip to Mount Airy to visit JOLO, Round Peak and hopefully some new discoveries the next time we return.

New N.C. Winery in Pilot Mountain impresses with wine, food and scenic views

The wine-making room at JOLO can also host private
parties to enjoy food and drink
.

By Dathan Kazsuk | Nov 8, 2014
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

Day trips take a lot out of me – especially when I’m consuming my first flight of wine before noon. But I am celebrating. Celebrating six great years of marriage to my partner in crime, Jennifer Primrose. Last weekend Jen decided we should do a day trip to Mt. Airy to visit “Mayberry” and take in a few wineries along the way.

Of course I agreed. I needed a break from work. So on Nov. 8 we got in our car and headed west on I-40, the third-longest Interstate Highway in the U.S., into Winston-Salem and up U.S. 52 towards Pilot Mountain. From there we headed to our first winery of the afternoon, JOLO Winery & Vineyards. One of the newest wineries in North Carolina, JOLO has only been open to the public since April of this year.

Approaching the wineries entrance I thought to myself, this would be a wonderful place to hang out for the afternoon. The properties 80-acres showcases the beauty of the fall foliage all around, with it’s backdrop, the infamous structure that is Pilot Mountain propped up slightly to the estate’s port side. Down the hill resides Cox Lake, a public fishing hole, where finds such as channel catfish, bass and sunfish lie claim to someone with the patience to wait for a nibble.

Once inside JOLO, the first thought was this looked more like a restaurant than a winery.  To the left, inside the “tasting lodge” were wine bottles stacked from floor to ceiling, and waiting in front of us was a marble-slab bar lined with dozens of wine glasses, just waiting for someone to request a tasting.






Tasting room hours are Thursday through Saturday 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 5:00 p.m. The cost for the tasting is $7 per person for 5 samples.

Some of these wines include a Chardonnay, a Merlot based Rosé, Chambourcin and a medium-bodied dessert wine aptly titled “Happy Endings.”


Each wine we sipped was a good as the next. I have to admit, sometimes it’s difficult to find a great North Carolina winery that embodies the essence of tasting that fine California or French wines. Many N.C. wines are a lot lighter in body and lack the tannins I enjoy in robust reds such as a Cabernet, Malbec or Merlot. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, just stating that my taste buds don’t accept these wines with the same enjoyment as those wines that coat my teeth purple by the end of the evening.


Named after owner’s JW and Kristen Ray’s two sons, Joey and Logan, JOLO offers guests a welcoming day of wine, food and scenic views. The winery offers lunch and dinner in its Napa-esque dining room – and it’s rather fitting, since JOLO’s chef hails from Napa. Besides the regular tasting, the winery also offers private tours, barrel tastings and events such as “All About Truffles” – a five course wine and truffle pairing which runs $125 per person.


This was definitely a new hidden gem we stumbled upon. During our lunch, we both decided this would be a perfect destination for a day trip with members of the Falls River Wine & Beer Club that we both spearhead. The atmosphere. The wines. The food.  We will be back for another visit.





Wednesday, October 8, 2014

SPCA Fur Ball raises funds for homeless pets


LOCAL FEATURE

By Jennifer Primrose | Oct 8, 2014
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

As an animal lover, there is nothing I enjoy more than supporting our local animal shelters whether it be volunteering my time or attending a fundraising event.   My all-time favorite local fundraiser has been the SPCA of Wake County’s Annual Fur Ball to raise funds to help homeless pets in Wake County.  This year, the event celebrated its 19th annual Fur Ball on Sunday, Oct. 5 at the State Club in Raleigh and both my husband and I had the pleasure of attending this black-tie event again for the 3rd year in a row.   This year’s event brought in nearly 600 guests with ticket prices at $125 or $150 at the door and the dress was black-tie preferred with many women seen adorned in cocktail dresses and ball gowns.

The evening began with perusing the many silent auction items ranging from trips, tickets to local sporting events, jewelry, wine, and of course, items to bid on for your pets as well as many more!   We were lucky enough to walk out with two auction items that night and knowing the money raised will help Fido and Fluffy is just another added bonus!   The live auction presentation took place under the tent outside.   We opted not to bid on the live auction items this year, however, the highest bid of $5,000 for “Christmas in New York” which was donated by David Basnight of Beechwood Tours was won by Terry Evans of Black Rhino Enterprises, Inc.

The Fur Ball would not be complete with the puppies all decked out in their Sunday best!   Six yellow lab/pit bull mix puppies attended this event this year and it was just what this event needed to remind us all of why we were there – for the homeless animals!

There was plenty of food and beverages including passed hors d’oeuvres, plates, salads and garden bar, hot dishes and ‘merican made desserts.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), with our late arrival that evening and our focus on bidding on some excellent silent auction items, we missed the “main courses” but not the desserts!   We enjoyed banana pudding “shots”, Dr Browns and Howling Cow ice cream floats, sweet and savory popcorn and even milk and cookies!

All in all I would say this event was another great success by the SPCA of Wake County, raising nearly $224,000!







Look for these upcoming events to benefit the SPCA:

Oct 26  Down by the Tracks
http://seaboardstationshops.com/event/down-by-the-tracks-spca-fundraiser/

Nov 16  Santa Paws 5K
http://www.spcawake.org/site/TR/CommunityFundraising/General?fr_id=1190&pg=entry


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Chapel Hill Festival draws crowd for food, beer and peppers

LOCAL FEATURE

By Dathan Kazsuk | Oct 5, 2014
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

So, you haven’t heard of Abundance NC? Well, let me tell you a little bit about them. They are a local nonprofit organization dealing in bringing people together to celebrate great ideas and to help build an ideal community that we should all want to live in. A community based around being self-sufficient. A community where bringing local produce into school cafeterias could help our children with a healthier diet. A community where local farmers and chefs work together to give us farm-to-table meals on our plates.

And for the past seven years, Abundance has hosted the ever-so-fiery Pepper Festival. This year the event took place on Oct. 5 at Chapel Hill’s Briar Chapel neighborhood. Tickets for the event started around $20-$30 in advance and $35 at the door, and once inside, you can taste samples of all the local, gourmet food from over 20 chefs – all infusing locally grown peppers into their dishes.

From sweet to hot. From smoky to creamy. If you like peppers this was an event that shouldn’t have been missed. Usually events based around peppers, the chefs or contestants try to make the “hottest” dishes imaginable, but that was not the case here. These chefs thought out their dishes, and the peppers accommodated every ingredient in the dish. Nothing here was going to make you breathe fire and run for a gallon of milk.


Lilly Den Farm of Goldston, N.C. was serving at the 7th Annual Pepper Festival.


Oh, and I forgot to mention, I was there to be part of the judging of the pepper beer competition. It was myself, the N.C. Beer Guys (Dave Tollefsen and Glenn Cutler) and 99.9 The Fan’s radio host, Joe Ovies.

Along with clipboard in hand, Jen and myself slowly made our way around to taste all the beers. First was Pittsboro’s Carolina Brewery. Though I do enjoy the beers the gang at Carolina Brewery craft like Sky Blue Golden and Oatmeal Porter, I thought the contribution to this year’s Pepper Festival fell slightly flat. Carolina Brewery infused peppers with its Flagship IPA – which normally is a great IPA, but the peppers had next to no ‘zing’ in the overall flavor of this beer.

Next up was newcomers, Regulator Brewing Company, out of Hillsborough. There we met co-founder Ryan Dodd, who gave us a couple samples of the Pepper Pale Ale. This beer was refreshing and it had the right amount of heat in the back of your throat. I could have easily kicked back a full pint of this pale ale.


Glasshalfull is a restaurant and wine bar based in Carrboro.
Now it was time to sample some food. At Carborro’s Glasshalfull, we sampled a pepper soup with sweet corn and shrimp. Cary’s Tribeca Tavern served up a peppered polenta with shredded peppered confit pork and a pepper jelly. And Top of the Hill Restaurant, out of Chapel Hill, had carved roast beef with several pepper condiments (from mild to hot). Of course I went straight for the hot!

At Top of the Hill, we picked up sample No. 3 of my beer judging, and that was the Habanero IPA. Wow! Did this one pack a punch! You felt the heat in your mouth, and moments later after you took a swig, the heat still lingered. Jen, who generally isn’t a fan of most IPAs, also enjoyed the flavor of this beer. By the time we came back for seconds, the beer was tapped out! Way to go.

A couple booths over we tried some N.C. grits and peppers with house made Italian sausage and bacon tobago jam from Raleigh’s 518 West. There I ran into blogger/author Johanna Kramer (a.k.a. the Durham Foodie) and 518‘s chef, Serge Falcon-Vigne. It was nice to see the two of them again. I haven’t seen Chef Serge isn’t his last stint in the annual Fire in the Triangle competition.


Food blogger/author Johanna Kramer and 518 West's chef Serge Falcon-Vigne.

The next beer on my list was from Carrboro’s Steel String Brewery. It was the Spicy No Quarter Coffee Stout – infused with three different peppers. A nice hint of heat resided towards the finish of this beer that made this another great beer to have on a nice Fall evening. I could have taken a growler of this home with me to enjoy out by the fire pit.

We could have spent a lot more time at the Pepper Fest on that day, but we had to get ready to head towards another event that evening, so we made our way towards the last beer to sample for the afternoon. Last up was another newcomer in the craft beer world, YesterYears Brewery, out of Carrboro.

At YesterYears we sampled the Fiddlehead PJB (pepper jelly beer). Another great beer! This beer had the heat from the peppers, but also sweetness of the jam. The guys also had 5 other beers available to sample that afternoon, including a peppermint stout and a citrus hefeweizen. Their brick-and-mortar taproom will be opening up by the Cat’s Cradle venue in Carrboro in early 2015 … definitely worth checking out.

This afternoon I only sampled the pepper beers, but there was more than enough food and beverages for all ages. Crude Small-Batch Bitters & Sodas had a variety of sodas to sample, such as the Habanero Lime Soda. Fair Game Beverage Co. had a Tobago-Scuppernong Spritzer. Larry’s Coffee had a Mayan chocolate with pepper flakes, and Durham’s Mystic Bourbon Liqueur was on hand pouring samples of its sweetened, spiced bourbon. That reminds me, I need to pick up a bottle of that.

Festifall Arts Festival offers arts, music and outreach

Chapel Hill's Festifall Arts Festival was an afternoon of arts, music and awareness.
Photo by Gina Sanders

LOCAL FEATURE


By Gina Sanders, Guest Blogger | Oct 5, 2014

Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

It could not have been a more beautiful Fall day for Chapel Hill’s Festifall Arts Festival. At 65 degrees, W. Franklin Street was a hub of activity. My daughter, Haley Reeder, talked about how cool it was to see all the creative energy alive and my husband Gary said he really enjoyed the variety of music that was playing. One of the vendors spoke of how they appreciated the organization of the early set up because it allowed her to walk around before the public arrived so she could see all that was being represented today.

I would encourage you to check out some of my whimsical favorites: Hand crafted mixed media mosaics by Gina Boyle at www.ArtfullyOutLoud.com, sculptures by www.stevekarloski.com, copper art at www.dlweathervanes.com, gorgeous wooden bowls by Al Hartman at www.bawoodworks.com, and pottery by our friend Nancy at www.redmanpottery.com.   Paintings done with bee’s wax, felted florals, stained and fused glass creations, hand painted silk scarves, not to mention various styles of jewelry – these events are perfect for finding something local and unique for gift giving!  Hint-hint!


Music danced in the air from one end to the other. The Koolest had the crowd energized from the Live & Local stage when we arrived.  I’m a little sad that I didn’t plan enough in advance to catch Lynn Blakely’s performance on the DSI Stage, because I love the tone in her voice. A delightful surprise was a group of four guys sitting on a low wall; strumming, plucking, and spooning their bluegrass jams - calling themselves Piedmont Regulators.

This was also a great venue for public outreach!  We were asked if we were registered to vote and encouraged to make ourselves aware of any new voting laws. Library cards, Triangle Transit, and smoke detector awareness were also represented.


Gina Sanders and Haley Reeder at the Festifall Festival on Oct. 5
Photo by Gina Sanders

The Interactive Zone was alive with families with children learning how to create (and take home) their own Spin Art. Poetry Fox wrote custom poems and the North Carolina Symphony let kids try and learn about a variety of instruments. Let us not forget about the NCLUG Lego sculptures with tables of free standing Legos for kids to get their own creative juices flowing.  I really love events like these that are also kid friendly!

It was a great afternoon to enjoy some of the creativity that makes living in the Triangle such a treat! Buy local!




Sunday, September 28, 2014

Triangle Heart Walk draws record crowds




LOCAL FEATURE

By Jen | Sep 28, 2014

Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

On Sunday, Sept. 28, the Triangle turned red in the fight against heart disease at the American Heart Association’s Triangle division Heart Walk, held at PNC arena. The walk route consisted of either 1- or 3-miles beginning and ending at PNC Arena and Carter Finley Stadium. We were fortunate to attend the walk on what became an absolutely beautiful sunny day which brought out the largest numbers to date for this annual event.

The walk raises awareness and much needed funds in the fight against heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease, which is the No. 1 killer of all Americans.  Sponsors and vendors lined the parking lot of PNC Arena with booths and educational materials in the likes of Duke Medicine offering lessons in CPR onsite, the Tribute and Survivor tents and Selfie station. Other sponsors included Subway, Quintiles, Belk, BASF and Crabtree Valley Mall to name a few.

At the time of this blog, AHA has raised a grand total $1,001,740 with a goal of $1,000,000. If you would like to help in the fight against heart disease, consider a donation and help save a life!

To make a secure, tax-deductible online donation to raise funds for critical cardiovascular disease research and education, click here http://heartwalk.kintera.org/trianglenc/jenprimrose and click “Give Now.”









Saturday, September 27, 2014

Argentine wines shine at Wine 101-Wake Forest

By Dathan Kazsuk | Sep 27, 2014
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

It was an evening of Argentine-style wines in what ended up being a very intimate setting at Wine 101-Wake Forest on Thursday, Sept. 25.


The class of 11 attendees were greeted by both Jay Holland (wine manager at the Wine 101-Raleigh location) and Sara House Doom (new wine manager at Wine 101-Wake Forest). The two told us a little about the wine regions and soils of Argentina before  launching into generous pours of some special wines.

First up was the 2013 Catena Chardonnay from the Zapata Family Vineyards. Not being a fan of most oak-barrel Chards, I thought this would be a wine I wouldn’t like … but that was not the case. It still had that “buttery” taste that I steer clear of in Chards, but it was a smooth, crisp wine that ended up something I could handle. And at a discount price of $17.99, it would be a steal for all the Chardonnay fans out there.

Next was the 2013 Zolo Signature Red Blend from the Mendoza area of Argentina. This supple, yet smooth wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Bonarda, Merlot and Malbec. An inexpensive wine at $10.79 – so it’s one of those wines you don’t mind opening after a long day at work.


Wine 101-Wake Forest's wine manager Sara Doom has some fun with the guests.
Following the Zolo was my favorite of the night – the 2011 Luca Malbec Valle de Uco Mendoza. Rated 92-points from The Wine Advocate, this wine left a berry taste on the palate, and lingering notes of espresso on the back end. My friend and I both agreed that this would be an amazing wine to add to some wood chips and add to an upcoming home brew. But take in mind, this wine isn’t cheap. At a regular price of $28.99, and a sale price of $25.99, it’s a wine to open for a special occasion.

Our final wine, in comparison with the Malbec was no slouch. The 2011 Bodega Gratia Cabernet was one I’ve had before, and it didn’t disappoint then, and it didn’t now. This Cabernet had hints of dark cherries and chocolate, and at a discount of $18.89 that evening I had to pick up another bottle for our cellar.

Wine classes at Wine 101 have always been informative, and like I mentioned earlier, always give you a generous pour with each wine. Saying it’s a “class” might not be the right name for these tastings, but always well worth the admission to try some worth while wines.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Raleigh's Lafayette Village celebrates Oktoberfest



LOCAL FEATURE

By Dathan Kazsuk | Sep 20, 2014
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

If I lived in Germany, it would be time to put on the Lederhosen, dust off the porcelain beer stein, head to Munich and consume as much German Oktoberfest beer as possible.

But since I’m here in Raleigh and down the road from Lafayette Village, Jen and I took time out of our busy schedule to check out our first Oktoberfest of the year – which also featured wiener dog races!

It was Lafayette Village’s Oktoberfest, and many of its merchants took part in the festivities, with a majority of the fun taking place in the quad around the shops. Crafty Beer Shop was outside serving up pints of Southern Tier’s Pumking and Worlock as well as a few others. In my opinion, $6.99 a glass was a little steep for beer, but it did beat having to stand in line to purchase tickets to buy my beer elsewhere.


Many people came out to view the wiener dog races at Lafayette Village.


I mentioned tickets. Yes, tickets. From what I saw, people were standing in line to purchase tickets to buy beer outside of the Village Grill – which featured beers courtesy of Aviator Brewing and Triangle Brewing Co. There also appeared to be a place to purchase brats and kraut as well. Driftwood Southern Kitchen, which we love, had a table set up outside selling Moonshine Lemonade for anyone looking for something a tad stronger than beer. Thinking back on that day, I should have tried one of those!

Other shops had samples available, such as Savory Spice, which had a spicy mustard available to taste. We also stopped in Novel Tea and tried a couple samples of tea – two of which infused hard apple cider and a pumpkin beer. Nice! I also found some loose leaf tea which might go well in an upcoming beer recipe I’m working on next.


Crafty Beer was in the spirt, serving up several pumpkin-style beers.
Wiener dogs! Yes! I forgot about them. So, one of the main reasons for coming to Oktoberfest, in Jen’s opinion, was for the races. We only stuck around for a couple races, but it was pretty entertaining watching these hot-dogs with legs race against one another. Some had no idea what they were doing, while others like Tar Heel, ran straight down the course and actually was the winner of that wiener dog division. Way to go Tar Heel.