Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Raleigh couple plans to bring first cat café to town

By Jennifer Primrose | June 20, 2017
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

Over the past several years we've noticed a new trend with our furry little felines. And that trend is the rise in cat cafés across the U.S. - including right here in the Carolinas. Being cat lovers, and even having people suggest we ourselves entertain the idea of starting up our own cat café in the past, got us thinking. What exactly goes on at a cat café? Would our cat Waffles be invited in for a spot of tea or cup of coffee? It was time to investigate, the best we could, without having ever visit our first café - yet.

Step 1. What is a cat café? Where's the best place to start? Wikipedia, of course!

"A cat café is a theme café whose attraction is cats that can be watched and played with. Patrons pay a cover fee, generally hourly, and thus cat cafés can be seen as a form of supervised indoor pet rental."

As we dug a little deeper into the interwebs, we learned a lot about this latest trend, that made its emergence back in 1998, but mostly in China and Japan. The first North American cat café opened its doors in 2014 and since then, this phenomenon has taken off, including right here in the Triangle. And now, Sarah Newton and Arthur Hailey are planning to open the first ever cat café in downtown Raleigh, Purr Cup Café. There is also a cat café planned for Wilmington, The Scratching Post, as well as in Charleston, Pounce Cat Café, which will also be a wine bar.

To bring our readers the best inside scoop on this latest trend, we caught up with Sarah Newton to find out what they have planned for Purr Cup Café and exactly where they are in the planning stages.

What made you decide you wanted to pursue opening a cat café in Raleigh and how do you think it will be received? Upon my retirement from my seven year ballet career with the Carolina Ballet, I wanted to devote myself to a meaningful project that would give back in some way. Ever since I learned that cat cafés existed and were popping up around the United States, I thought starting one would be the coolest thing ever. I left the ballet in May 2016, and since then cat cafés have continued to spread all over the country. This inspired me to just go for it. Raleigh is an exciting city that is friendly to new ideas and Raleigh, as well as the Triangle, has been growing so much I knew it was ready for a cat café. So far it has been received really well, so I can only imagine that will continue. Our number of social media followers has been steadily growing and everyone we talk to is super excited.

You are teaming up with Meow House Cat Rescue. How did this collaboration come about? We are lucky to have some great rescues in our area, and they are all awesome in their own way. I began reaching out to rescues a little over a year ago because I had some extra time on my hands over the summer and wanted to use that time helping cats. I was originally attracted to Meow House Cat Rescue because they were very flexible and had opportunities that fit my schedule. The more I got to know them, the more I loved them. They are a small organization and don't have any big money making events, but they give every cat a chance, no matter how "unadoptable" they may be. They take on many special cases and cats that need extra love and medical attention. They are also a foster based organization, so I knew the cat café would be a huge help in getting their cats more exposure and helping them find homes for more cats.

Related Story: How Shelter Cats Changed Our Lives: Purr Partners

Approximately how many cats will be in the Cat Lounge at any given time? And will adoptions be conducted there as well? All the cats will be adoptable and the adoptions will be handled through Meow House. We will have nine cats in the lounge. Any more than that, and we will have to register and be inspected as a private shelter. We spoke to the person in charge of these inspections, and he was super helpful. He would be glad to help us out and advise us, but would recommend we stick to nine cats and avoid the official inspection.

Arthur Hailey and Sarah Newton of Purr Cup Cafe 
c/o Sarah Newton
What type of events do you foresee in the future that would feature the cats? The possibilities for awesome events involving cats is endless. Caturday morning cartoons, kitty story time, yoga classes, movie nights, trivia ... you name it, we will do it ... with cats! We will also host private parties in the cat lounge.

What menu items will you be featuring? Will you be hiring a barista? Any baked goods? I have barista experience, and we will be hiring additional baristas. We will have a full espresso bar, so people can get any of their usual coffee shop drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos. We will also offer drip coffee and cold brew. We have not made a final decision as far as which coffee roaster we will use, but we will be using something local. We will also have a large selection of non-coffee beverages such as teas and bottled sodas and juices. Our baked goods will come from local shops and will be fresh each morning. We will definitely have cat treats as well!

So there you have it, the Cat Café. Our first question was answered, "No, Waffles, you can't join us at the café!"  

To follow along on Purr Cup Café's journey, be sure to follow them on Facebook at Purr Cup CafeInstagram at @purrcupcafe and Twitter and also be sure to check out their Indiegogo. There are some great incentives and perks for donating. 

And don't forget, this endeavor would not be possible without adoptable kitties! Check out those awaiting forever homes by checking out Meow House on Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Brewery Profile:
Big Boss Brewing Company

Big Boss Brewing Company in Raleigh.

Big Boss Brewing Company
1249 Wicker Drive, Raleigh

Phone: (919) 834-0045
Web: www.bigbossbrewing.com
Owners: Geoff Lamb and Brad Wynn
Head brewer: Bobby McInerny
Brewing system: 20 barrel
Year established: 2006
Flagship beer: Bad Penny, Hell's Belle, High Roller
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 3 p.m. - 12 a.m.; Friday: 2 p.m. - 2 a.m.; Saturday: 12 p.m. - 2 a.m.; Sunday: 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Parking: Paved parking lot, street parking
Free Wi-Fi: Yes
Dog friendly: Yes. Offers water bowels and dog treats
Stickers: Yes

Beers on draft: 22 beers on draft
Pints/costs: $4 to $5, some higher-gravity beers, $6
Flights: $8 for four 4-oz. pours
Cans/bottles for sale: Yes
Growler/howler fills: Yes
Crowler fills: No
Wine available: Yes
Food: Local food trucks, delivery menus
Within walking distance: Lynwood Brewing Concern; Sub Noir Brewing Company
Sampled during our visit: Blanco Diable with Cucumber and Lime Zest; Blood Orange High Roller; Foeder #2 with Cranberry; Bumps & Bruises with Guava; Space Mistress Saison

• Related Story: Find out how Big Boss' Blood Orange High Roller compared against other NC IPA's in our Sweet Sixteen IPA Challenge. 

Big Boss Brewing is one of Raleigh's oldest breweries, celebrating its 10-year anniversary in late 2016. It is the collaboration of Geoff Lamb and Brad Wynn, who has an extensive brewing experience with places such as Victory, Wild Goose and Native Brewing Company.

• Related Story: Bottle releases from Big Boss and Crank Arm breweries fill up weekend adventures.

Today you can find Big Boss in just about every grocery store in the state. Just head to the beer aisle in stores such as Publix, Harris Teeter, Lowe's Foods, Total Wine, etc. But if you're looking to try something that's not the mainstream, head to the taproom, where they serve up 22 beers on draft. There you can sample the Bumps & Bruises Gose series – while we were there they had a Strawberry, Guava and Pineapple variants. The brewery also offers its Strange Cargo Drafts, which featured a Belgian Dubbel, sour Blonde, an American Wild Ale, and a sour straight out of one of its Foeders.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Grand Rapids: Becoming a Beer City 'Brewsader'

Grand Rapids, Michigan – it has many accolades. It’s best known as one of the U.S. cities that’s won the coveted title, "Beer City USA." It’s also been voted as one of the "Top 16 Best American Beer Cities" by Thrillist and "America’s Best Beer Town" by USA Today. Not to mention being one of the "Top 10 Best Beer Cities" by Livability and HopCat is always on a list of most popular bars in the U.S.

And with over 20 breweries nestled around Michigan’s second largest city, we knew we had to take the opportunity to explore what Grand Rapids and its breweries had to offer.

Through the help of Experience Grand Rapids, a local visitor’s bureau, all the breweries in the city can offer up a nifty passport for you to keep track of your destinations. The best part – visit eight of these breweries and get your passport stamped and you’ll receive a free “Brewsader” t-shirt to commemorate your adventures.

Let our adventures begin.

The Hideout Brewing Company 
This was our first stop of the trip. It looked pretty scary from the outside – like an abandoned dive bar – but don’t let looks deceive you. Inside we were impressed with the selection of beers on draft and the employees knowledge of North Carolina beer – primarily Wicked Weed and anything Asheville. As far as beers go, we sampled the Moll’s Cheesecake Milk Stout, Hazelnut Java Cement Shoe and a couple IPAs. 

Jaden James Brewery 
This brewery is housed inside what is known as Cascade Winery. While we were there we did a flight of beers and a tasting of Cascade’s wines. Although not bad, we felt they needed some improvement in both the wine and beer departments. Jaden James also offers up hard ciders as well as homemade root beer. Some of the beers we sampled that day included a sour beer, peanut butter porter, Russian stout, cherry hard cider and seasonal strawberry cider

Harmony Brewing Company
We made a quick stop into this neighborhood pub located in the Eastown area of Grand Rapids. A small-batch brewery, Harmony also features wood-fired pizzas as well as artisanal foods and crafted cocktails. Think something similar to Raleigh's Trophy Brewing's Morgan St. location. We ordered up a couple healthy sandwiches and a pint of beer. Jen had the Albius Vanilla Porter, and I forgot to log my beer into Untappd, but it was one of the best Flanders Red-style beers I’ve had in a long time.

Elk Brewing
Just down the road from Harmony is Elk Brewing. This brewery features a large outdoor patio with fireplace, while appearance inside is a bit rustic and a bit industrial. Elk serves up small bites such as salads, appetizers and paninis. The staff were very friendly as we discussed, yet again, North Carolina beers with everyone. We ordered up a flight which consisted of the Dank-alicious IPA, Rowster Coffee Porter, PB & J’ale’y, Oatmeal Stout and the Double Whammy IPA. Good beers and nice employees makes this a place we’d hit up again.

Brewery Vivant
Other than Founders and Grand Rapids Brewing Co., Brewery Vivant might be the next most known brewery in the city. Vivant claims it's the first LEED-certified microbrewery and the brewery is housed inside a refurbished funeral home. Yes, this place is awesome! Imagine sitting inside a dimly lit funeral home with outside lights casting colored hues through the stained glass windows as you enjoy Belgian and French-inspired beers. Plus the brewery offers European-style fare from its kitchen. There we split a flight that included a dubbel, a sour, a saison and an IPA. Anytime we go back to the city, we know Brewery Vivant will always be a must stop.

Grand Rapids Brewing Company
We were looking to eat at HopCat a couple buildings over, but with the wait being over 50 minutes, we walked right into Grand Rapids, sat down and ordered up food and beer. Along with some deep fried pickles we had several pints of The Fishladder IPA and the Downtown Dank, an Imperial IPA, which we brought home a couple bombers with us. GRB is your typical restaurant/brewery – service was good and the food and beer were above average. It’s a nice stop if the line to get into HopCat is too long.


Railtown Brewing Company
Railtown offers a variety of beers that are crafted on a 3-barrel brewing system. The name pays tribute to the old Hammond Station stop on the Michigan Central Railroad. This was one of our final stops of one of our evenings and the taproom was getting ready to shut down for the night. The owner was kind enough to let us enjoy a beer while he cleaned up and talked shop with us. Jen selected the Peanut Butter Cocoa Time and I had the Eh! Maple Porter. We didn’t spend much time in there, but the beers up on the wall seemed interesting. Maybe next time.

Founders Brewing 
This was like meeting your idol, and not being impressed after the visit. The view of the brewery from the outside leaves you in awe. The brewery fills up an entire city block! Once inside we sat down at a table and looked over the menu. I’m not a huge KBS fan, but to get it on draft at the source is a must. It was listed on the menu, but when I went to order it, it was gone – and so was the backwoods bastard. Essentially everything on draft was stuff we could buy at a bottle shop. The Porter, Centennial IPA, Double Trouble, Pale Ale, etc. I think the most “rare” item on tap was Mango Magnifico. The staff was very robotic, and acted like how you would expect a "huge brewery" to act. Would I go back again? Probably not. There are still over 12 other breweries in Grand Rapids that we didn't check out!

Yes ... we did get our shirts!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Brewery Profile:
Sub Noir Brewing Company

Michael Stagner of Sub Noir Brewing Company in Raleigh.
Michael Stagner's passion lies in sour beers.

Sub Noir Brewing Company
2039 Progress Court, Raleigh

Phone: (919) 480-2337
Web: www.subnoir.net
Owner: Michael Stagner
Head brewer: Michael Stagner
Brewing system: Half barrel
Year established: June 2013
Flagship beer: Eccentrica; Cassis; Zee Count
Hours: Friday: 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.; Saturday: 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Parking: Paved parking lot
Free Wi-Fi: No
Dog friendly: Yes
Stickers: Yes

Beers on draft: 4 beers with 1 guest draft
Pints/costs: $6 to $7
Flights: No, but offers half pours
Cans/bottles for sale: No
Growler/howler fills: 32-oz fills (members only)
Crowler fills: No
Wine available: No
Food: No
Within walking distance: PineTop Distillery; Lynnwood Brewing Concern; Snoopy's Hot Dogs
Sampled during our visit: Violet Beauregarde; Cassis

The taproom at Sub Noir Brewing Company in Raleigh.
Guests at Sub Noir enjoy beers during Memorial Day Weekend.

If you're looking for a small boutique brewery that specializes in sour beers, you might want to head over to Raleigh's Sub Noir Brewing Company. Head brewer Michael Stagner operates the smallest brewery in North Carolina, or pretty close to the smallest, with his 1/2 barrel system. The brewery, however, has an incredible cult following looking to sample any of the new beers Stagner releases – just look at some of the lines he gets at local beer events such as the annual Brewgaloo festival.

A couple things that make this small boutique different than other local breweries is that Sub Noir does accept BitCoin – so if you're looking to spend your BitCoin money, go buy a beer or two there. Also, in the taproom is an assortment of classic video game consoles. From Nintendo 64 to the Nintendo Gamecube, hook up your favorite system and pick from over 60-plus games to play.

• Related Story: Sub Noir celebrates its 3-year anniversary.
• Related Story: Sub Noir celebreates 1-year anniversary with a bang 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Brewery Profile:
Lynnwood Brewing Concern

Lynnwood Brewing Concern's head brewer, Bill Gerds.

Lynnwood Brewing Concern
1053 E. Whitaker Mill Road, Raleigh

Phone: (919) 424-7533
Web: www.lynnwoodgrill.com
Owner: Ted Dwyer
Head brewer: Bill Gerds
Brewing system: 20 barrel
Year established: Brewpub/restaurant, July 2013; Taproom, Oct. 2015
Flagship beer: Hop on Top; Huberis (most popular)
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.; Friday: 12 p.m. - 1 a.m.; Saturday: 12 p.m. - 1 a.m.; Sunday: 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Parking: Paved parking lot
Free Wi-Fi: Yes
Dog friendly: Only on patio and outside; no dogs allowed inside taproom
Stickers for sale: $1

Beers on draft: 22 beers on draft; plus home-made root beer
Pints/costs: 9-oz. and 16-oz. glasses, ranging from $2.50 to $5.50-plus
Flights: $9 for four 4-oz. pours
Cans/bottles for sale: Yes
Growler/howler fills: Yes
Crowler fills: No
Wine available: Yes
Food: Local food trucks
Within walking distance: PineTop Distillery; Sub Noir Brewing Company; Big Boss Brewing Company; Snoopy's Hot Dogs
Sampled during our visit: Saison du Bois; Hop on Top IPA; 342 Pale Ale and 430 Pale Ale

A flight of beer at Lynnwood Brewing Concern.

If you're from the Raleigh-area, you probably already know about two of Lynnwood Brewing Concern's biggest accomplishments in 2016. Head brewer, Bill Gerds, along with brewers Andy Gallagher, Darryl Wells, Sarah Sinning and Ben Ames brought home two gold medals in the annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Those two beers include the Once you go Black IPA and the Drop Bear Australian Pale Ale.

If you've been to Lynnwood you know you can find something that suits your palate relatively easy – with a total of 22 beers on draft, ranging from IPA, Blondes, Porters, Stouts, Saisons and even a very easy drinking Raspberry Wheat.

One thing new to Lynnwood is the sour program they've began earlier this year with the release of Violaceous, a sour Belgium ale aged in Chardonnay barrels and black currants. For its second release, Lynnwood put forth Luciferous, another sour beer aged with apricots. While at the taproom, we talked with head brewer Bill Gerds, who shared with us the next release in the sour program – a Flanders Red aged with cherries. We can't wait for that release. The gang at Lynnwood would like to be able to release a new sour beer to the public every 6 to 8 weeks.

How Shelter Cats Changed Our Lives: Purr Partners

In loving memory of Mai-Tai, 2000-2012
This blog is in memory of our little girl Mai-Tai, who left us way too soon but who lives on in our hearts forever and in honor of all those shelter kitties seeking their forever homes.

In 2012 we lost Mai-Tai to kidney disease at the age of 12 years old. Two years later, in 2014, we lost Oreo to feline hepatic lipidosis at the age of 18. After Oreo’s loss, left behind were Sleestak, age 12 and Hamilton, age 11. The decision to adopt again did not come easily. Slee and Hamilton seemed lost without their matriarch but how would they adjust to someone new at their age. Several discussions around this topic occurred and then we finally decided to go meet some potential companions.

After no love connections, a friend posted this photo of this little girl to our Facebook page simply stating she needed a home.

Her name is Waffles and she was in foster care through Purr Partners. I do not know what it was about her. We gravitate toward black cats and tuxedo cats yet here we were looking at this photo thinking “maybe?” We soon contacted the foster family and went to go meet this little one and learned of her rough start to life.

Her and her sisters were rescued by Purr Partners and placed in foster care. One by one they got sick and one by one they crossed over the Rainbow Bridge, except Waffles! They all had feline panleukopenia, a very fatal disease, but clearly not for all! This little one has the same fight in her as Mai-Tai. She was placed in the hospital for up to a month before she was able to go back into foster care.

Our first meeting
When we first met her at her foster home she was busy. Busy playing with her toys. Busy running around the house. We said we’d think about it and went home and talked and looked over at our seniors wondering how they would handle a new baby in the house. Afterall, we were looking for at least a 1-year old and she was just 9 months old at the time. We decided to give it a go. She wasn’t getting any younger and unfortunately, teenagers/adults start to get overlooked and she was not one who enjoyed spending time in an enclosure at PetsMart with people tapping on the windows. Not this prima donna!

So, we adopted her and our house lit up again with activity and kitty drama. It’s wonderful! For months, she would bully her kitty big brother although I always warned her not to poke the “bear." Now he is in charge. She has actually got that boy up and out of bed and running around the house again. She adores Slee who wishes she would just go away. But I think she’s good for the seniors keeps them young! She’s even become Triangle Around Town’s unofficial mascot. I often wonder who rescued who when we brought her home. We often joke that it takes a village to raise a Waffles as we have also become good friends with her foster parents as well.


Purr Partners Feline Rescue

Purr Partners was founded in 2009 and like other established shelters today, started with a love for animals, a couple of volunteers, no budget, but the drive necessary to take action and work with rural shelters where cats have less chance of survival and are overlooked and sometimes forgotten about. Just think, without Purr Partners, Waffles and her sisters would have had very little, if any, chance of survival and no one to fight for them.

Now, in just 8 short years, Purr Partners has grown to over 100 volunteers. The rescues are placed in loving foster homes where they are socialized and loved. They partner with PetsMart to showcase these cats with adopt-a-thon events on most weekends. In our case, we were fortunate enough to first meet Waffles in a home environment to see how she interacts with other cats and people. Which was good since she did not care for PetsMart.

Like other rescues, they could not do what they do without the dedication of its volunteers. Some of the volunteer roles needed are foster families, PetsMart cleaner, helping at adopt-a-thons, transportation, and fundraising. To consider volunteering with Purr Partners, click here for more information.

We decided that the best way to honor and remember Mai-Tai on her 5th anniversary was to sponsor a kitty in need of a home. We are currently working with Purr Partners on this so be sure to check back as we hope to feature a sponsored Purr Partner kitty in the hopes of finding him/her a new forever home.

To make a donation to Purr Partners, click here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wedding planner with a passion for wine helps make dreams come true

Kimberly Williams, owner, Weddings by the Vine                                              c/o Catherine Davis Photography


By Jennifer Primrose | May 31, 2017
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

In this edition of Five Questions With ... we reached out to the creator/owner of Weddings by the Vine, Kimberly Williams. Weddings by the Vine, based in Cary, is a boutique wedding planning service specializing in vineyard weddings here in North Carolina. We first met Kim and her husband, Ron, through our connections with Triangle Around Town. Not only did we enjoy talking with them about Kim's wedding planning business but also discovered that Jen and Kim were from the same hometown in Michigan.

Being from Michigan, it is no surprise that North Carolina is an attractive place to relocate. Kim knew from the time she was 14 years old she wanted to move from Michigan, so two years after graduating from college, she and her husband moved to Cary. After volunteering as a wedding coordinator at her church for nine years, and combining her love of wine and weddings, she started Weddings by the Vine as a side project while working as a financial analyst. In 2014, Weddings by the Vine went full-time.

Related Story: Carronni's Hand Crafted Creations have N.C. wineries in mind

Your business is called Weddings by the Vine. You plan weddings around the perfect winery location. How did you get into wedding planning, and better yet, what made you decide to specifically work with North Carolina wineries in planning the perfect wedding?
I went back to college when my kids were a little older to focus on finance. During my time at Meredith, I was able to meet with some of the NCSU students who were researching the growing NC wine industry. Back in 2004, there were only about 50-55 vineyards, and now, we have well over 100. Not all of them accommodate weddings and events, but they are all fun to visit, and I love hearing the unique stories behind the beginnings of each vineyard.

With my love of wine and hobby of going to wine tastings, I just knew that the industry would continue to grow. I began considering services that I could offer the vineyards and sent out a survey to assess their needs. I even attended a full day class at Surry Community College about how to start a vineyard.

Related Story: Check out the top North Carolina wineries of 2016!

While some of my clients have already selected a NC vineyard as their wedding venue, some contract me to assist with the selection, which is the favorite part of my job! They are just not aware that NC has well over 100 vineyards to offer all beautiful, unique spaces giving them a number of additional options than they originally thought. I've even had couples who have had a hard time making a decision because there were several vineyards that fit their wedding vision.

c/o Cameron Ingalls Photography

You're a wedding planner that works primarily with wineries. Tell us a little about that. Is it easier or more difficult to work with wineries than typical event facilities? Most event facilities you can, technically, work with year round. Do you find that with winery weddings you have a smaller window to work with, due to when the vines are in bloom. If you would have asked me this question last year, I would have definitely said it's very seasonal. But I had two vineyard weddings this winter which were beautiful. I will admit that there weren't any photos by the vines, but one of the ceremonies was able to be held outdoors since the weather was so mild. A number of the vineyards have increased their indoor/covered spaces so they can now accommodate both the ceremony and reception indoors, if needed.

I wouldn't say it's harder to work an event at a vineyard, but it's definitely more spread out than a typical venue set up. I also love the variety that vineyards can offer clients. They can easily have a rustic setting for their ceremony near the vines, then move onto a lovely patio for cocktail hour and finally make their way inside to a dinner with an upscale feel it's just amazing when you can have slightly different cohesive styles at the same venue. I will say that I definitely get my exercise in for the day though!

How many wineries have you worked with in the state so far? Do you have any favorites you prefer to work with? While I have personally visited and toured most of the vineyards that have wedding space, I have had events and worked with about 30 vineyards. I have to say that they all have an aspect that I love and are all my favorites in their own unique ways.

There are so many perfect moments in planning a wedding. Can you tell us some of those? But also, many weddings have slight to epic disasters. Can you give us a few examples of those? Interesting question! I'll start with no wedding is perfect and it's my job to hide/resolve any issues that arise. Of the few major issues I've experienced, weather has always been the reason and is the biggest concern with any outdoor wedding. I've learned a lot from these experiences and am better prepared for future weddings. It shouldn't deter brides from wanting an outdoor wedding we always have a weather plan in place. Some of those weddings though have turned into the most fun when the bride and her family have a good attitude and remember this is their one day to celebrate regardless of the weather.

c/o Treasured Moments Photography
There are two really special moments that I remember specifically. One was actually at a wedding where wind was a factor, and I had to take down some of the items so they wouldn't break. When the bride was walking up to meet the groom, the wind was blowing and she looked absolutely stunning because her dress was tiered and all of the overlapping layers were blowing in the wind. It was so pretty, and right before she started her walk, she said to me, "this is exactly what I had pictured for my wedding!". Definitely one of my favorite memories.

Another favorite memory is from my first out-of-state couple who I got to know really well. They were just so happy, and I saw it the whole day. They weren't afraid to show their emotions and you just felt happy for them. It was one of the most fun weddings I've worked on.

You recently started doing event planning, private parties, anniversaries, etc. in addition to weddings. What made you head into that direction? Are these new paths going to still stay in the winery field? Yes, definitely! It's just another avenue to bring events to the NC vineyards. Weddings are still my main focus, but I had a few requests last year for these types of events at the vineyards and local wine bars. It's a nice change and these events can happen year round. My new fun service is choosing and serving NC wine at corporate events, seminars, etc. just another way to introduce NC wine to people who may not make it out to the vineyards.

What's next for Weddings By The Vine? Anything new we might see in 2017?
That's a great question! I'm always coming up with new things, but you'll have to subscribe (sign-up form is at the bottom of my home page) to my new newsletter to find out! I will say that my goal, as it's always been, is helping clients turn a stressful process into happy planning while promoting the NC wine industry!

Related Story: Raleigh realtor mixes wine with real estate

Keep up-to-date with Weddings by the Vine by visiting the web page at www.weddingsbythevine.com

If you or someone you know would like to be featured in our monthly Five Questions With, please send an email to trianglearoundtown@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Shelton Vineyards Hosts 7th Annual Running the Vines 5K & 10K

By Jennifer Primrose and Dathan Kazsuk | May 24, 2017  
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

It was our goal for this year. To participate in as many 5K runs as we could manage. Earlier this year we participated in the Chetola Resort Corkscrew 5K run during the annual SAVOR Food and Wine Festival in Blowing Rock. And now, we decided to try our luck at the 7th annual Running the Vines hosted by Shelton Vineyards in Dobson.

If you haven't noticed the trend of our first two runs, they revolve around ... you guess it ... wine! And just to let you at home know, we are by no means "runners." We both have issues with our feet, but we don't let that stop us ... for now anyway.

Check out our video from our day at Shelton, click here.
Running the Vines 5K takes you along a route from the Hampton Inn & Suites at Shelton Vineyards to the winery while the 10K takes you through the vineyard (or so we are told!) This event is co-hosted by the Mount Airy Parks and Recreation, Surry County Parks and Recreation, and the Town of Dobson. Here's a look at our day:

5:45 AM: The alarm clock went off way too early for us on this Saturday morning, but we eventually rolled out of bed. Donned in our Running the Vines t-shirts and running gear, we headed downstairs for breakfast at the hotel. Scrambled eggs, sausage patties and yogurt - the breakfast of champions!

7:15 AM: We arrived at the Hampton Inn and Suites at Shelton Vineyards and quickly sized up the other runners in the hopes that surely there would be some that would be walking so we wouldn't come in last place! Jen was starting to worry as she was witnessing some serious runners in this group. Yikes! "I should have trained better," she was heard saying.

8:00 AM: Those running the 10K are directed to gather at the start line to get ready to head out on their journey through the vineyards. The countdown begins and off they go.

8:15 AM: It was now our turn. Jen was feeling OK, but it was Dathan who saved the day with his patience and keeping her on track with intervals resulting in Jen's best time ever. Before long we hit the 1-mile marker. Continuing on, passing the corn fields and cow pastures in search of the vineyard, we were on our way to mile 3. Dathan decided it was time to pick up his pace and run the last mile, while Jen found her groove with her speed walking. Before long, with vines in sight up ahead, a right turn to enter the gates of Shelton and the view was breathtaking. Vines on both sides, the mountains in the background, and tasting room up ahead ... what more motivation did one need for this last push? With the finish line in site, Jen decided it was time to run to the end. Dathan, after already finishing, came back and joined in as the finish line got closer!

So, Jen, the non-runner who is always foolishly suggesting we do these 5K runs, finished another 5K asking "why did I decide to do this again?" soon became "I did it! Can't wait for next year!"

9:30 AM: We're not sure on the exact time, but we stuck around for the 5K awards to be handed out. Not that we were expecting an award, but it's always fun (and motivating) to see who had the best times and what those times were. We even pretended we came in 1st and 2nd place for a photo op!

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10:00 AM: We decided to head back to our hotel in Jonesville and get ready to check out the scene at the 16th Annual Yadkin Valley Wine Festival. With more than 25 wineries in attendance and close to 3,000 visitors, according to the Elkin Tribune, this wine festival was worth checking out. Shocking that a wine festival would just so happen to be taking place on the exact weekend we were in town!

12:00 PM: When we arrived at the wine festival, it occurred to us yet again why we no longer enjoy going to festivals in general. Too many people is the first thing that comes to mind ... and on a hot day no less! Now, this is not to say wine festivals are not for everyone, just not us. Personally, we prefer to visit the wineries which affords us an opportunity to talk wine with the winemakers, winery owners, managers, employees and other guests rather than feeling rushed like you do at a festival.

Lines formed early at the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival in Elkin.
But, nonetheless, it was fun to walk around and see which wineries were in attendance. We were fortunate to run into and chat with Amy Helton from Hanover Park Winery and a quick hello to the NC Wine Guys who were helping out at the Hanover tent.

The wine was definitely flowing and some wineries also had some good deals for purchase. We even walked out with three bottles from Raffaldini on a whim. Unfortunately, the scene was just a little much for us perhaps because we just finished a 3-mile run/walk? So, off we went to Angry Troll Brewing in downtown Elkin.

1:00 PM: The last time we were at Angry Troll brewing was probably a few months ago so we decided it was time to pay them a visit again. The taproom was empty at this early hour, the air conditioner was on and we were happy. No crowds, no heat and refreshing pomegranate beer and we finally got our second wind. After all, our day at Shelton was not quite over yet.

3:00 PM: We arrived back at Shelton Vineyards for the tour and tasting. Melanie (Mel) did an absolutely fantastic job as our tour guide. She was funny, animated, informative and made the experience great. Following the tour, we did our tasting and retreated to the patio with a glass of Dry Rose´and a Two-Five-Nine Estate Bottled Petit Verdot. 

We took a break on the Shelton patio to enjoy a glass of wine each before dinner.

4:30 PM: It was time for dinner, so instead of staying and eating at the Harvest Grille, we headed down the road to Putters sports bar, and then back to Shelton for the first of the Summer Concert Series featuring the 80s band, The Breakfast Club. We settled in with our lawn chairs and a bottle of 2013 Merlot as we were transported back in time to some of our favorite music to dance the night away or in our case, watch others dance the night away!

Breakfast Club played songs from Vanilla Ice, Devo, Van Halen, Corey Hart, Motley Crue and other 80s bands.
All in all, we had a fantastic time. When we first entertained the idea of doing this race, we were really impressed with the day-long events with two bands (we did miss the Afternoon Cool Down with the Mediocre Bad Guys), tastings and tours, hay rides through the vineyard we are so glad we decided to sign up and will do the same next year and hopefully more years to come.