Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Expert Advice: Wine Trends to Watch for in 2017

Dathan Kazsuk & Jennifer Primrose | Feb. 1, 2017
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

With the start of a new year, there are always new trends we as Americans love to follow. We want to be hip and cool to what's going on around us. From the sour beer craze to unfashionable pantsuits, we go by what the experts tell us. And that same mentality applies inside the world of vino. What are some trends we should be looking out for in 2017? 

We recently asked a handful of in-state wine experts what trends they foresee for this year. We talked to a bottle shop owner, wine shop managers, a winemaker, a winery owner and even Angus Barn's  
sommelier Henk Schuitemaker, who says sparkling wines are going to be big this year – by themselves and as mixers.

With all that's being said by our panel of experts below, we expect 2017 to be the year of the grape!

Joey Medaloni, winemaker and owner of Medaloni Cellars in Lewisville.
"In 2017, you will see more nontraditional varietals gain interest. Wine has been around for a very long time and there is more to it than Chardonnay and Cabernet. We have offered more less known varietals in the past few years and people have really loved them. I like to mix it up, keep it fresh, give people something different to experience. One of the varietals I will release for its second vintage is Traminette. It is a French American hybrid. Its more known parent grape is Gewürztraminer, in which it is very similar in flavor profile. Look for it Spring 2017."
– Joey Medaloni
Winemaker, Medaloni Cellars (Lewisville)


Joe O'Keefe is the owner of Wine & Beer 101.
"There will be a greater desire for new wines not named Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot will be making a comeback. Bubbly will continue its growth trend. The year 2016 was the year of mammoth Prosecco growth and it will drag Cava along with it into 2017. Lastly, wine slushies are on the horizon. Most restaurants have been tight lipped about their recipes, but we have and will continue to experiment with concoctions that are Rosé based. Yes, you might see slushy machines popping up in restaurants and bottle shops like ours, and they won't be for kids!"
– Joe O'Keefe
Owner, Wine & Beer 101 (Raleigh, Wake Forest, Wendell)


Sanctuary Vineyards John Wright out in the vineyard in Jarvisburg, N.C.
"I believe the trends for 2017 in overall wine is for consolidation of top brands of wine, where your favorite wines from medium sized producers are purchased by big wine companies. I'm afraid we'll see less variety on the shelves of stores, but, in some good news, I believe that the dollar is strong globally, so we'll see lots of cool imports from South America, Australia/NZ as well as more variety from Europe. Locally, I see NC wine shops and restaurants stepping up and embracing NC wine the same way they have with craft beer.  The quality is there and there's no reason not to have NC wine on the list."
John Wright
Owner, Sanctuary Vineyards  (Jarvisburg)


Eliza Kraft Olander, center, at the 2016 Triangle Wine Experience Gala.

"It seems that while there is some trend in larger companies taking part ownership in wineries, I am hopeful that there is going to be much more collaboration with smaller wineries and growers.  

I also see women taking a larger role in winemaking, growing and ownership - more than ever before. It is my hope that we as consumers are moving to a lower alcohol level in wines and towards an old world style of winemaking. While I may be wrong about this, because a huge amount of wine buyers and drinkers love a fruit forward, higher alcohol wine - I feel we are also primed in many ways to gravitate to more natural, biodynamic and old style in wines while leaning on modern amenities for production.  

I personally have a lot of respect for the wine programs that lean toward that way of production ... but like a lot of small to medium businesses, it is sometimes difficult to balance business practices with the reality of costs associated with that practice - however, the important part to the consumer is how those benefits translate to the shining juice in their bottles. There is a re-dedication of and to natural farming and winemaking across the board. These trends and the revival of practices that renew the Earth remind us to 'walk as if you were kissing the Earth with your feet.'"
Eliza Kraft Olander
Chair, Triangle Wine Experience (Raleigh)



"The wine industry is in state of constant evolution and improvement. The strong dollar makes European wines cheaper and has resulted in a boom for French wines. But technological improvements and better winemaking techniques is improving the quality of wines throughout the world, and global warming is changing where winemaking is possible.

So in the near future, you will see the rise of Sparkling wine from England to rival Champagne, and wines from the Languedoc in France will reach incredible heights to challenge Bordeaux and Burgundy. Elsewhere in the world you will continue to see the rise of New World wines from Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and a strong rebound for Australian wines. You will also see a trend towards more balance in wine – gone are the days of massive fruit bombs. Instead we are seeing the rise of wine that is more approachable earlier, with lower levels of alcohol and more food friendly.
Ken Place
Director of Operations, Triangle Wine Experience (Raleigh)


Jack Hicks with his current favorite bottle of wine.

"More bubbles from all corners of the world (Tasmania anyone) – in bottles and cans. More esoteric red California blends featuring Valdigue, Gamay, Picpoul and Bobol. More great Rosé choices than ever. Look forward to the 2015 vintage German and Austrian wines that will 'Wow' people, and more love for small producers with integrity!"
– Jack Hicks
Wine Manager, BottleMixx (Raleigh)

 "Here at Tasting Room we offer wines from all over the world. We really focus on getting people out of their comfort zone with drinking different grape varietals and wines from different growing regions. More and more we see people more willing to branch out. I think too, we will see the younger demographics getting interested in wine. We are located right down the road from UNCG and we see many professors, staff and graduate students. The younger generation or 'millennials' are coming of age and are looking for a more 'grown up' experience.''
– Alison Breen
Manager, Partner, Winetender, The Tasting Room (Greensboro)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Raleigh's bottle shop shares a passion and vision for wine and beer

Annette Henson owns the Greenway Beer and Wine shop in Raleigh.


Dathan Kazsuk | January 25, 2017

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

Five Questions With ... is a new series that we'll be featuring in 2017. The premise of this series is to spend some time with local small businesses or people in the community or state that we feel are doing something great or unique. 

Greenway Beer and Wine's Annette Henson opened up her bottle shop for the love and social aspect of craft beer as well as the joy of sharing the telling stories of her adventures around beer. Growing up in Missouri, Henson, after graduating high school, started working for the Department of Natural Resources. There she worked construction in addition to designing and maintaining hiking trails.

At the age of 24, she then joined the United States Marine Corps. While in the service, she started to branch out and that is when she tried many varieties of wine and beer. She still recalls coming back to the U.S. after a 9 month deployment in Iraq where she had a layover at an airport in Ireland.

"This was the first drink I had in nine months," says Henson. "I asked for the largest pour of the bartender's favorite beer. It was dark and amazing. I mark that experience as the official jumpstart to my beer and wine adventures."

After her active duty ended in 2010, she went to Raleigh's Wake Technical Community College where she completed her Associates in Science. Then she got a job working at Wine 101 in Wake Forest, keeping the glasses clean. After time her role continued to grow ... from working part-time for a year she moved her way up to full-time, and then the beer program manager for the Raleigh location. "Shortly after, I managed the entire Raleigh location," Henson says. "I continue to be grateful for my three year tenure at Wine 101. I learned more about wine than I ever expected, and my passion for great beer only grew as the days flew by."

After leaving Wine 101 in mid 2016 she dove head first into opening her own shop. On October 1, Henson had the official soft opening of her own creation. With an assortment of wine and beer, tastings, food trucks and a loyal following, Henson is now living her dream. We recently caught up with Henson for our latest 5 Questions With ... Below are excerpts from the conversations.

You are the owner of Greenway Beer and Wine, which is located on 7530 Ramble Way in Raleigh. What made you decide to open your own bottle shop? I decided to open my own craft beer and wine shop because I wanted to share my passion and vision with others. I enjoy getting to know my customers and figuring out their palate, so I can find new beer and wine that they will love and be excited about. There is an enormous amount of work that goes into opening a shop like this, but it is my passion, so it is, and will be, worth it.

So we've heard horror stories of opening a brewery or bottle shop. What's the largest hurdle you had to leap through in order to make your vision happen? There are a lot of hurdles opening a beer and wine shop, especially if you plan on using actual glassware to pour drinks into. The whole health code for bottle shops does not exist. We get treated like a restaurant, even though we don't serve food. Dealing with all the extra stipulations of the restaurant health code is the most frustrating part of the build for me. 

Related Story: Five Questions With ... Raleigh realtor mixes wine with real estate

So what would you say you learned from your experience with Wine & Beer 101 that you have brought to Greenway Beer and Wine? I will say from my previous three years experience, that it is not only difficult to run a beer and wine shop in the beginning, but it stays that way because everything is always changing. North Carolina is growing in the beer and wine industry. I grew up on a farm, so I am very use to working nonstop – so this is not new to me. I'm not sure how I stay sane, but at the same time I'm not sure I ever was. I have turned my garage into a relaxing spot for me, so that's where I am when I am relaxing. I have all the things I enjoy in it: There is a beer fridge, gun safe, television, relaxing couch, my dogs and my wife in her recliner, all out in the garage. That is definitely my happy spot.

Working at a bottle shop you must have a divinity for wine and beer, or course. What would you say is your favorite style of beer. As well as your favorite varietal of wine? What about other selections such as ciders or Sake? It is very hard for me to pick my favorite style of beer, as I love IPAs and sours so much. But we will go with IPA as my favorite beer style, just because I can drink more of them than sours before my taste buds quit working. My favorite style of wine is easy. I love the big and bold red wines. I call them dirty wines, because every sip you take, it taste different and better. I enjoy how the big wines open up and evolve as they get more contact with the air. We are working on our cider and sake section here at Greenway. As the gluten free movement keeps evolving, so does the need to excite everyone's palate and that's where the cider and sake section comes in.

What would be the best advice you'd give to someone who might want to venture into opening their own bottle shop in the future? I would say the best advice I would give someone looking to open their own shop is take the time and do the research, so you know exactly what you want. The image of your store should be something you are proud of and that will reflect your personality. If it is a happy place for you, your customers will feel that and be comfortable there too. I did my research and knew exactly what I wanted when I built my shop, so there is very little I would change.

Greenway Beer and Wine is located at 7530 Ramble Way, Suite 103, Raleigh, NC

Follow us on Facebook at Triangle Around Town for local blogs and photos from local events. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

In The Kitchen: Chicken Enchiladas & Green Tea Wine Cocktail

It's been awhile, but years ago I used to make amazing green enchiladas with shredded turkey. It was a hit with my friends back then, and would be requested at every pot-luck I would attend. 

Years later, I decided to make them again, but with a twist. This time using rotisserie chicken, a red sauce and burrito-sized tortillas. To go with the dinner we decided to make a Green Tea Wine Mojito, that we learned about visiting Native Vines Winery in Lexington, North Carolina. And for our snack, while putting together the dinner, we had tortilla chips and blueberry salsa from Blueberry Haven, that we picked up the last time we were in Grand Haven, Michigan.

For the enchilada sauce:

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 cups chicken stock (I used Knorr chicken bouillon cubes)
  • 10 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
Heat oil in a saucepan, then add the flour. Mix and cook for 60 seconds. Then add chili powder, mix for another 30 seconds. Add chicken stock, tomato paste and cumin. Mix. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for around 15 minutes. Let the sauce rest while you work on the rest of the enchiladas.

We used a rotisserie chicken from a local grocery store - shred the chicken and place in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. Then add 1 cup of diced onions and a small can of sliced black olives. Mix together.

Lay a tortilla down and put a small amount of chicken mixture in the middle. Sprinkle with some cheddar cheese and fold it over and roll it up. Repeat and fill up a large casserole dish. Once you have all the casserole dish filled with enchiladas top them with the red sauce to cover, and then cover the enchiladas with cheddar cheese.

Have the oven pre-heated to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.

We paired that with a Green Tea Wine Mojito.

  • Muddle a couple mint leaves at the bottom of an old-fashioned glass with the juice of half a lime.
  • Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice
  • Fill the glass with Native Vines Winery's Green Tea Wine
  • Splash the top with Gin
  • Garnish with a lime wedge
For the Gin we used Copper Fox's VIR Gin Single Malt that we picked up while visiting the distillery in Williamsburg, Virginia. With its Mediterranean juniper berries, citrus, spices and botanicals, it makes for one of our favorite Gins to mix with.

Related Story: Day Trip: Exploring the Wineries in Lexington, N.C.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New Mediterranean restaurant opens in Raleigh's Glenwood South

By Jen Primrose | January 22, 2017
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

The Mediterranean comes to Raleigh's Glenwood South with new restaurant, Vidrio, born from the creation of Raleigh restaurateur, Lou Moshakos, along side, George Bakatsias. Vidrio will celebrate its grand opening on Monday, Jan. 23, but we were fortunate enough to get an invite to sample the experience at its soft opening this past week. As soon as you open the doors you are welcomed to the vibrancy of the Mediterranean with its bright colors and energy.


We were seated along the wall of handmade glass bowls which is simply beautiful and breath taking. It took one and half years to make the bowls from an artist in Colorado. Vidrio is Spanish for "glass," I learned. The array of colors transcends from cool to warm and reminiscent of the ocean to the sunset.

There is dining on the first floor as well as event space on the second floor overlooking the downstairs. The upstairs bar/lounge, Fiera bar, has a cozy atmosphere with an indoor fireplace and 50 wines on tap! The first floor Library also provides another private, event space to accommodate up to 30 people.

Upstairs Private Event Space
Mezzanine overlooks the 1st floor dining

Fiera Bar - 2nd Floor


The menu consists of family-style, shareable small plates with flavors of the Mediterranean by the creation of Executive Chef Ian Sullivan and Chef de Cuisine, Saif Rahman. Food is prepared on a wood-fired grill and stone hearth oven. Our choices for the evening were:

Small Plates:  Hummus and Beef Tartare, which was phenomenal
From the Garden: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Large Plate: Rotisserie Pork Shoulder

In addition to the cocktail menu, there will also be 50 wines by the glass on tap.

Be sure to check out Vidrio's web page for more information, hours and of course, to make your reservation for a dining experience you are sure to enjoy! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

N.C. wineries win awards in largest American-made wine competition

Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda won three awards including a gold for its Vermentino.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently released its 2017 Wine Competition medal award winners and several North Carolina wineries landed on this prestigious list. There was a total of 7,000 entries and below is the list of North Carolina wineries that made the list. This really goes to show that wine in the Tar Heel State is starting to gain some traction in the world of wine.

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, or SFCWC, is considered the largest wine competition that consists solely on American-made wines, and is judged by a list of sixty experts – ranging from media, trade, education and hospitality.

Below is the list of North Carolina wineries that won:

Biltmore Estate – 2013 Bordeaux Blends ($25-$34.99) – Award: Silver
Biltmore Estate – 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon ($15-$18.99) – Award: Gold
Biltmore Limited Release – 2015 Roussane ($16.00) – Award: Gold

Jones von Drehle – 2014 Cabernet Franc (up to $24.00) – Award: Bronze
Jones von Drehle – 2015 Chardonnay ($22 - $25.99) – Award: Silver
Jones von Drehle – 2015 Petit Manseng ($26) – Award: Bronze
Jones von Drehle – 2015 Viognier (up to $24.99) – Award: Gold

Mountain Brook Vineyards – 2013 Petit Verdot ($25) – Award: Bronze
Mountain Brook Vineyards – 2015 Pinot Gris/Grigio ($20 and above) – Award: Bronze

Related StoryThe Best Wineries of North Carolina in 2016

Raffaldini – 2014 Montepulciano ($32) – Award: Bronze
Raffaldini – 2015 Vermentino ($22) – Award: Gold
Raffaldini – 2014 Sangiovese ($20 and above) – Award: Bronze

Sanctuary Vineyards – Cabernet Dominate Blends (up to $24.00) – Award: Bronze
Sanctuary Vineyards – 2015 Muscat/Albarino/Chenin Blanc ($25) – Award: Gold
Sanctuary Vineyards – Wild Pony White ($15) – Award: Bronze
Sanctuary Vineyards – The Triangle ($20) – Award: Gold

And we don't want to leave out our friends at the Williamsburg Winery in Williamsburg, Virginia, which also received some hardware of its own. The winery won awards for its Gabriel Archer Reserve (Silver); Four Barrel Cuvee (Bronze); Adagio (Silver); Chardonnay (Bronze); Viognier (Silver) and its Petit Fleur (Silver). 

We now we have another goal for 2017 – to drink all these award winning wines!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hottest Chefs in the Triangle pose for new calendar for charity

Chef Serge Falcoz-Vigne of Saint Jacques French Cuisine in Raleigh.

Dathan Kazsuk | January 17, 2017
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

How does one support thousands of people facing hunger each year in North Carolina? You put together a calendar of the Triangle's hottest chefs. No. I'm not kidding. You sell a 12-month calendar featuring a diverse range of culinary chefs based out of the Triangle.
The calendar came to existence thanks in part to Taste Nutrition Consulting, Tabletop Media Group, Glover Corporation and of course the local chefs. All proceeds of calendars sold will go towards the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina – which is a nonprofit organization that helps feed starving people and families in the 34-county service area here in North Carolina.

But how difficult was it to find 12 chefs to grace the pages of this nonprofit calendar. "It was hard choosing only 12 chefs," says Tessa Nguyen of Taste Nutrition Consulting. "We had a short turnaround time to get things done before the end of the year, and submitting things to the printer, so it ultimately came down to scheduling."

And this all came to fruition on January 16 for the launch party held at Crank Arm Brewing Company in downtown Raleigh. The event was fro 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., with more than 100-plus culinary fans who came out to see who made the cut.

Many of the chefs were on hand, happy to pose with their new favorite month of the year. Some of the chefs that wound up inside the pages of the calendar include Daniel Benjamin of lucettegrace; Teddy Diggs of Il Palio; Kim Hunter of Kimbap Cafe; Regan Stachler of Little Hen; and Mike Lee of M Sushi and M Kokko – who also happens to grace the cover of the calendar.

"We determined him to be the 'hottest chef' because he has recently opened two restaurants and has plans for expansion of two new concepts in the Triangle very soon," says Kristen Baughman of Tabletop Media Group.

If you are interested in obtaining a calendar for yourself, one can be ordered online for $19.99 here!

Chef Mario Huante says this is the first time he's ever graced the inside of a calendar.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Videri Chocolate Factory celebrates 5 years of chocolately perfection!

Jennifer Primrose | January 15, 2017
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

It's hard to believe it's been 5 years since Videri Chocolate Factory opened its doors in the Depot in Raleigh's Warehouse District. I remember when they first opened their doors and continue to enjoy paying them a visit whenever the opportunity arises.

The 5th anniversary party took place on Sunday, January 15 and included chocolate door prizes, chocolate raffles, hot chocolate, special promos, coloring books, special chocolate products, and more! The "pre-party" included edible chocolate posters strategically placed around the Triangle at such places as The Wine Feed, DECO Raleigh, Wine Authority Raleigh, CAM Raleigh and Runologie. You read that correctly, chocolate POSTERS which they were also raffling off at the event.

For those not in the Raleigh area, you may now be a little curious about this little gem in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Videri is a bean to bar chocolate factory and retail space. The business is owned by Sam Ratto and his wife Starr alongside friend, Chris Heavener.

As soon as you walk through the doors you are greeted by the aroma of sweet chocolate along with a smiling face offering free samples. The retail space offers up fresh coffee or hot chocolate, you can stroll to the back where the magic happens and witness the chocolate making process from start to finish and there is even an outdoor patio to enjoy that fine chocolate bar with a fresh cup of coffee.

Product offerings include the flagship chocolate bars; classic dark chocolate, dark milk chocolate, dark chocolate with sea salt (my favorite), seasonal favorites, confections pack and more. Can't get enough? They also offer 6- and 12-month subscriptions! Every month delivered right to your door. Convinced to pay downtown Raleigh a visit and check out Videri Chocolate Factory? Need an idea for date night? How about pre-dinner drinks at Crank Arm Brewery or Circa 1888, dinner at The Pit Barbecue or Jose & Sons, dessert at Videri Chocolate Factory and then hop on a rickshaw and head on over to CAM art museum!

Happy Anniversary Videri!! We wish you many more years of helping to satisfy our sweet tooth!  Cheers!!

Upcoming 19th Annual 2017 Blowing Rock Winterfest!

Chilly and Crystal are the Winterfest mascots. They're always spotted during the Polar Plunge at Chetola Resort.

Jennifer Primrose | January 15, 2017

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

The 19th Annual Blowing Rock Winterfest is right around the corner. This annual event, sponsored by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, will take place January 26-29, 2017. In addition to the annual events, this year brings even more fun for winter and snow lovers. Blowing Rock just happens to be one of our absolute favorite small towns in North Carolina, and if you have the chance to visit, we highly recommend it.

The first Winterfest took place in January of 1998 after several business owners in the area decided to create a festival to celebrate winter. We attended our first Winterfest back in 2013 and had a great time, especially if you are lucky enough to experience some snowfall while you are there. The festival includes so many great events that just keep evolving over the years and the best part is the money raised all goes to various charities and you cannot beat that!

Here is just a sampling of what you can expect at the 2017 Blowing Rock Winterfest:
  • The Polar Plunge
  • WinterTastings and Auction at the Green Park Inn
  • WinterFest Family Night at Appalachian Ski Mountain
  • WinterFeast at Chetola Resort
  • Beer and Wine Tastings
  • Cork and Canvas Classes
  • Silent Auction and Raffle
  • Hayrides
  • Ice Sculptures
  • Bonfire
  • WinterFashion Show
  • WinterPaws Dog Show
  • Pancake Breakfast

And new for 2017:
  • First ever Beer Garden! From what I've read, this event will feature local breweries sampling their "Hops and Barley Pops" under the tent at the Inn at Ragged Gardens. It will also feature a new chili challenge with local restaurants competing to beat The Best Cellar's 2016 Chili Champion!
  • Appalachian State WinterFest Snowflake Parade featuring the Appalachian State University Mountaineers Football team
  • Friday evening, the WinterFest Ice Stroll, where you can take a stroll after dark through Blowing Rock to see all the ice sculptures crafted by Travis Dale, owner of Artisan Ice Sculptures.
If you are looking for some winter weather, weather permitting, or even if you've had enough, come on out to Blowing Rock and "Don't hibernate. Celebrate!"

Click here for the full schedule of events 2017 Blowing Rock WinterFest Schedule of Events