Monday, December 31, 2018

Yes! Quality Wines are Available in Raleigh

Falls Village Wine & Beer located in Raleigh, North Carolina

By Dathan Kazsuk

Finding a high-quality wine in Raleigh isn’t really that difficult. Just look around. You’re bound to find something amazing at just about any wine shop in town. Yes, we all know you can easily pass through the aisles of Total Wine and find a great wine. Usually as soon as you walk in the door you can stop in front of the locked glass armoire and find that magnum-sized bottle of Dom Pérignon – but is that really you?

Here in town we have many places we go to purchase our wines to add to our collection. From downtown’s Raleigh Wine Shop to north Raleigh’s BottleMixx and the unexpected displays of valuable assortments at Taylor’s WineShop. The next town over is Wine & Beer 101 in Wake Forest. I can go on. But I wanted to mention one shop that recently hosted a high-end wine tasting, with great wines from around the world.

On December 16, 2018, Falls Village Wine & Beer, which is located off Falls of Neuse Road, hosted its first high-end wine tasting. For $25 per person, one got to sample wines from Italy, France, Oregon, California and Portugal. In all, twenty wines and ports were poured that afternoon with great discounts available to guests after the tasting was over.

Falls Village Wine & Beer's owner Jim Soffe talks about how the bottle shop got its start. Click here! 

Falls Village Wine & Beer Raleigh and Raptor Ridge Vineyards

Tastings such as these, to me, are well worth the fee. You get to sample all the wines before you make a purchase, and it is an opportunity to try wines that are off your radar due to the steep price tag. That afternoon wines ranged from $18.99 for an Italian Pinot Grigio to $99.99 for a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

We started our trip around the world with a Grüner Veltliner from Willamette Valley’s Raptor Ridge. I’m not really a big fan of this varietal, but in a tasting such as this, I plan on running the gambit. The wine was actually decent, but I couldn’t wait to make my way back later for the Raptor Ridge 2015 Barrel Select Pinot Noir and the 2015 Temperance Hill Pinot Noir.

The first leg of our tour of white wines had 5 total stops. Including the Veltliner, we tried a 2016 Pinot Grigio Fruili from Fossa Mala, Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne NV from France and two distinct Chardonnay wines from California – the 2014 AXR Chardonnay and a 2016 Chardonnay from ZD Wines.

We were now ready for the reds, and although we were expecting some good wines, we didn’t expect them to knock our socks off as many of them did.

It’s always a treat when you get to sample a wine from Robert Biale Vineyards. And that afternoon we tried the always delightful Black Chicken Zinfandel. It’s usually hard to find a great Zin, but Bob knows how to do it right! Some other reds included a Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, a red blend from Bravante Vineyards and a Rosso Toscana from Italy’s Le Cupole.

Falls Village Wine & Beer in Raleigh and Biale Vineyards wine tasting

But there were a couple that really stood out from the rest, and they came via AXR Vineyards hailing from St. Helena and a Rosso Toscana from Podere Sapaio. Talk about amazing wines! The 2013 Cabernet was dark in color with an explosive amount of acidity and deep in tannins – very full-bodied.

The 2016 Rosso Toscana is a blend of 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Petit Verdot and 10 percent Cabernet Franc. It had a very “earthy” aroma on the nose – the type I live to drink – and a long, silky finish. The tannins and dark fruit flavors along with the nose made this my favorite wine of the tasting – and sent me back for seconds. A shout out to Matt of Bacco Selections who actually poured the rest of the bottle in my glass!

Are top-shelf wines out of your price range? Here's a list of some great canned wines that will fit in your budget – click here!

I recently talked to shop owner Jim Soffe who told me all these wines mentioned are available at his shop. The high-end tasting was “to promote the small production iniquities I have on the top shelves.” Kudos to Soffe on his part. This is a brilliant idea that more bottle shops should pay attention to and repeat. What a great way to try top shelf wines you more than likely won’t pay without trying first.

Many of these wines sampled at Falls Village Wine & Beer could find their way to your favorite bottle shop's top shelf, since they all come from local-area distributors such as Freedom Beverage, Orsini Wines, Millennium Beverage and Tryon Distributing.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A romantic view that sits atop the North Carolina mountains


#83 – Point Lookout Vineyards

The latest winery to open in North Carolina is located less than 10 miles from downtown Hendersonville and about 25 minutes southwest of Lake Lure. Point Lookout opened its doors in June, 2018. Sitting at an elevation of 3,000 feet, it’s the perfect location to share a bottle of wine as you take in a 30-mile panoramic view of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a crisp, cool, Fall day. The winery is located on Point Lookout Mountain for which it is named. In addition to a winery, Point Lookout also offers up mead under the name World's Edge Meadery, in an open-air pavilion with a stone fireplace. The winery is a perfect place to host events such as weddings, private events, live music, dinners and more.

While visiting the Asheville area for our 10-year wedding anniversary in November, we decided we had to pay Point Lookout a visit to see what all the buzz was all about. We first stumbled upon them when reviewing the winning wines from the 2018 Fine Wines competition where their 2016 Off-Dry Riesling won for Best White Vinifera. Then we began hearing rave reviews from fellow bloggers and knew we had to go check them out.

Point Lookout offers two tasting options – 5 wines and 1 mead, or, 5 meads and 1 wine. The choice was simple. We chose one of each to maximize our tasting adventure! There were a total of 10 wines to sample and 7 meads. We really enjoyed the meads and while Jen’s favorite was Calm, a chamomile mead, Dathan gravitated more towards the Orange Blossom mead.

As for the wines, we found them to be young yet well-balanced and definitely a winery to keep your eye on. Between the two of us, our favorites were the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Cliffield Red Blend and the Javine Mocha Red Wine … but in different order of preference. We decided to bring home a bottle of the Beguile, a raspberry mead, which we could both agree on. 

This estate vineyard is owned and operated by Mike and Sabrina Jackson. They began planting grapes in 2008 and the wine is made at Windsor Run Cellars in Hamptonville. Following our tasting, we took a stroll around and took in the serenity of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Triangle Around Town's top 🍷choice: World's Edge Meadery "Beguile" Raspberry Mead

Hours: Sun. - Th. – 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Fri. - Sat. – 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Tastings are $10 for 5 wines and 1 mead, or, $10 for 5 meads and 1 wine

Visit the web page at for Facebook for upcoming events.


By Jennifer Primrose
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email:

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Dogfish Head invites fans to join along on JanuQuenchy

Sam Calagione will give up cheesesteaks for 31 days and will only drink SeaQuench.
Photo c/o Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Is there anything more magnificent than a New Year’s resolution centered around drinking a deliciously crafted beer for a month? No. There isn’t. So join Sam Calagione, founder and CEO of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, for the ultimate, beer-centric New Year’s quest known as JanuQuenchy. With a goal of kicking off 2019 right, Calagione and a boatload of Dogfish co-workers pledge to only drink the low-calorie SeaQuench Ale for 31 days while eating sensibly and doing something active.

So how do you join along? From January 1 through January 31, share images of your JanuQuenchy journey on Instagram using #JanuQuenchy #DogfishEntry. Dogfish Head will follow along to see how you’re doing and might just reach out to re-post your progress to their Instagram page. You will also be entered for the chance to win a Dogfish Head SeaQuench themed trucker hat during the JanuQuenchy challenge. There will be one winner, per week. For official JanuQuenchy rules, click here.

“I am committed to only drinking SeaQuench Ale in January, as well as avoiding french fries and cheesesteaks – probably two of my favorite foods – and doing something healthy with my body every day,” said Calagione. “That’s it – eat sensibly, do something active and drink only SeaQuench Ale for 31 days … who’s with me?”

SeaQuench Ale (4.9% ABV) is the most thirst-quenching beer ever made at Dogfish Head and it’s only 140 calories, 9g carbs, 2g protein and zero fat. Brewed with lime juice, sea salt and black limes.

For more information about Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, SeaQuench Ale and JanuQuenchy, visit

Monday, December 3, 2018

Hendersonville's Appalachian Ridge serves up artisan ciders and spirits


#82 – Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider

Hendersonville is one of our favorite small towns to visit in North Carolina. We’ve been visiting for years and seen the growth of this small town blossom. Recently a new winery has emerged as well as a new cidery, Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cidery. You may wonder why are we featuring a cidery in our journey to visit 100 wineries in North Carolina. We use as our guide and listed is Appalachian Ridge, which makes sense since the owners are also the owners of Saint Paul Mountain Winery. And then there is the debate as to whether cider is more like wine or more like beer. For that debate, we asked three North Carolina cider makers that very question for NC Cider month.

Every time we visit Saint Paul Mountain Winery, and have the opportunity to try their ciders, we ask about the new Cider house and when we can expect them to officially open the tasting room. And this year, the Cider house  officially opened and we finally had the opportunity to pay them a visit. 

After finishing up a tasting at Saint Paul, we literally did a hop, skip and a jump across the street … well, not literally. We actually hopped in the car and drove about a block to this quaint cider house. It was a Tuesday afternoon in November, and with the rain tapering off, we walked into the restored 1920s-era barn that has been converted into a tasting room – with the sounds of Frank Sinatra playing in the background. The atmosphere was warm and inviting. Another couple was just finishing up their tasting as we sat down at the bar and decided on two full tastings that included six ciders and two spirits.

The first three ciders on the list – Bald Top Mountain, Saint Paul Mountain and Bearwallow Mountain were all pretty traditional-style ciders from dry to sweet. Each one showcased the style in a perfect manner, and all represented what we believe these types of ciders should taste like. The final three, well, they now start to play around with your tastebuds. The Mount Pisgah starts dry but finishes sweet. In the Sugarloaf Mountain you get some hints of honey and tannins. And the flavor of ginger in the Cliffield Mountain made this lively cider our personal favorite.

Both the spirits we sampled that afternoon were delicious. The Peter Arly is a blend of apple brandy, apple cider and time in French oak barrels. And the Rachel Katherine is a dessert-style sherry made with Chardonnay grapes that has a buttery taste and pineapple nose. 

The tasting room sits on family land and overlooks the orchards of French apple trees that were brought over from the Normandy region of France. Appalachian focuses on French- style ciders made with local apples, pressed and bottled onsite.

Triangle Around Town's top 🍷choice: Cliffield Mountain

Hours: Sun - Thurs 12 pm - 6 pm; Fri - Sat 12 pm - 7 pm

Tastings are $7 for 6 ciders OR $10 for 6 ciders + 2 spirits

Visit the Facebook page for upcoming events.

By Jennifer Primrose
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email:

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Video: Addison Farms Vineyards

The Frisbee’s began the vineyard and winery back in 2009 as a way to preserve the family farm. Initially a tobacco farm, there are currently six varieties planted on Addison Farms land – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot and Petite Manseng. 

In 2011, the first fruits were produced and in 2012 the tasting room opened. We recently visited the winery and had an opportunity to chat with co-owner and winemaker Jeff Frisbee.

Check out excerpts from our interview below.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Addison Farms Vineyard's quaint charm lies just north of Asheville


#81 – Addison Farms Vineyard 

We first met Jeff and Dianne Frisbee of Addison Farms Vineyard in Leicester at the inaugural NC Wine Bloggers summit in March of 2018. While talking with them and then having the opportunity to try their wine, we knew we needed to pay them a visit soon, especially since we had just started our Road to 100 North Carolina Wineries series. It took us almost 8 months, but we finally planned our trip out to the Asheville/Hendersonville area and it was time to check them out!

We arrived in Asheville on a November Sunday morning and headed straight for Vortex Donuts because that’s what you do when you’re in Asheville … in addition to Biltmore house, the breweries, the food scene and some hiking! We had a 2 p.m. appointment with Jeff at Addison Farms to interview him for our Over A Glass series and the vineyard is only a short 20 minute drive (or 14 miles) northwest of Asheville.  When we arrived, we drove up on what almost seemed like someone’s property. Perhaps because Addison Farms is a family-owned and operated vineyard having been in the family for 4-generations. The vines overlook the serenity of the mountains while around the front side of the tasting room the cows are grazing. It was a windy day but also a beautiful Fall day in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Frisbee’s began the vineyard and winery in 2009 as a way to preserve the family farm. Initially as a tobacco farm, there are currently six varieties planted – Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot and Petite Manseng. In 2011, the first fruits were produced and in 2012 the tasting room opened. To hear more about Addison Farms from Jeff himself, check out our Over A Glass.

After we concluded our interview with Jeff he took us on a tour of the barrel room before heading back to the tasting room to taste some wines. We went through seven wines starting with a mead and ending with the Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot blend, Coming Home 2013. 

Producing around 1,000 cases per year, Addison Farms wines will tend to be on the lighter, acidic side rather than tannic. Jeff believes wines should be paired with food and that is what he strives for by producing lighter bodied wines. So, when we purchased a bottle of the Red Dress 2015, a Montepulciano, we decided to pair it with a pasta Bolognese dinner while we were vacationing in Asheville.

Next time you take that trip out to Asheville, consider a scenic 20 minute drive up to Addison Farms Vineyard and add it to your itinerary.

Triangle Around Town's top 🍷choice: 2015 Red Dress, blackberries and cherries with a hint of spice - paired well with pasta bolognese

Hours: Year-round Friday and Saturday: 12-5 p.m. and Sunday: 1-5 p.m.

Tastings are $10 + tax for 5 wines or $14 for 7 wines + reserve wines

Visit the web page at for Facebook for upcoming events.


By Jennifer Primrose
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email:

#GivingTuesday reflects back to local Raleigh cat shelter

In Memory of Hamilton "Bones" Baxter
Alumni of SAFE Haven for Cats, Raleigh, NC
November 2003 - June 16, 2018

As a previous volunteer of SAFE Haven for Cats, located in Raleigh, I will never forget the day I first met Hamilton. It was Spring, 2003, and he had just been admitted into the isolation area at the no-kill cat shelter where I was assigned to clean on that particular shift. As soon as I took him out of his enclosure, he gave me the biggest bear hug and I knew he had to be mine. Even though I already had two cats at home and was not in the market to take on a third, he chose me and I could not let him down.

He was the biggest love bug there was and would just sit in my lap for hours. I was in love. When I wasn’t there, other volunteers stepped in and sat with him – for hours. And made sure I knew he was getting the proper attention when I was not there.

Finally the day came when he was ready to come home. And lucky for him, his new grandparents were also in town that day and were there to welcome him to his new forever family. He was promptly placed in a bathroom until he was ready to explore, which did not take him long. As soon as he laid eyes on his oldest sister, Oreo, he was smitten. I was no longer the love of his life as Oreo was his everything which also left the now middle child, Mai-Tai, a little left out but right into my arms. I couldn’t complain.

Oreo and Hamilton - It was love at first sight for Hamilton

Over the course of his life, he was sadly in the shadows of his sisters, which grew by one through marriage, but he also gained a daddy. Hamilton could be a little rough with the girls at times, but rarely on purpose. He loved to sit in the window and watch the birds and squirrels play all day. At times he would be forgotten about as the “girls” drama overshadowed him. But he rarely fussed. He was rarely sick and the occasional hairball turned into a dramatic event – each time. Vet techs loved him and he returned the love.

In 2012, he had to say goodbye to his sister Mai-Tai and we could tell he was a little scared, but with the help of Oreo, he overcame. In 2014, however, his soulmate Oreo, sadly left this world leaving behind just him and his step-sister, Sleestak. The house felt empty. Hamilton and Slee were not the same without Oreo in the house. He became more loving again with me as he used to be all those years ago and sit on the couch with me to watch TV. He yearned for his dad’s attention and demanded to be petted by him. A year-and-a-half after losing Oreo, we adopted again and brought in a 9 month old feline girl who decided it would be a good idea to bully Hamilton. He took it in stride. I warned our newest bundle of joy not to poke the bear or he may poke back! He poked back … finally … and took dominance. Proud momma moment!

For a boy who was never sick, mother’s intuition began to set in early 2018 that something didn’t seem right but I could not put my finger on it. When he went in for his annual, I told the vet but could not tell her what to look for. His blood panel came back indicating overactive thyroid and he was put on medication. On his recheck, the numbers did not come down as expected and we were directed to continue as we were and bring him back in six months unless he continued to lose weight or we saw other signs. Two weeks went by and after we returned from a weekend away, I noticed he wasn’t eating. Now his eating had been a challenge for some time since he no longer wanted his food, but Slee’s food. But he ate. This time he was not and he was retreating to the closet or under the bed. Off to the vet we go.

I won’t go into details at this point except that he went in on a Tuesday, was diagnosed with advanced stage pancreatic cancer, that had already spread to his abdomen, and by Saturday, in the comfort of his own home, in my lap and with the help of Lap of Love, we said our final goodbyes. Way too soon yet in my heart, I know he is reunited with his true love, Oreo, at the Rainbow Bridge. I will miss his bear hugs the most because he had the best hugs EVER!

So, this was Hamilton’s story. Off the streets of Raleigh, into the shelter of SAFE Haven and into a loving home with now heartbroken parents who loved him unconditionally. I write this to acknowledge that without the tireless efforts of these non-profit, no-kill, animal shelters, that cats like Hamilton would never have had a chance at a good life.

To learn more about SAFE Haven for Cats and the work they do to save countless felines, check out their website at


By Jennifer Primrose
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email: