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: