#NCFarmTour | Where NC Agriculture Meets Educational Fun ~Recap by SobeSavvy.com

On June 27-29, 2018, I joined a group of bloggers on a fantastic tour of northeast North Carolina. We were invited by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to experience the diversity of eastern North Carolina including cucumbers, white potatoes, wine, beer, brats and seafood. Here is a recap of what I learned, where we traveled, who we met and of course, what I ate along the way!

Day 1- Wednesday, 6/27

Stop 1 on the #NCFarmTour – Lunch at Nothing Fancy Café, Edenton

Locally owned, Nothing Fancy Café features made-from-scratch southern home cooking. The restaurant also features a variety of retail items including antiques and baked goods. I left with a beautiful $5 pineapple candle holder and an appreciation for this restaurant who serves field to fork food. The collard greens I enjoyed as a side came from a local NC farmer and tasted like my grandma made it! Nothing Fancy Café is also my new favorite place to enjoy a burger. When the beef comes from a local farmer, trust me you can taste the quality and the difference.
Facebook: @NothingFancyCafe

Stop 2- AJ Smith and Sons Farm, in Edenton, NC

Did you know that Edgecombe County is #1 in growing of cucumbers in NC? We visited a farm started by AJ Smith and is now run by his four sons + grandsons. The farm is extremely diversified. They grow clary sage, peanuts, soybeans, corn,watermelons, cucumbers, and snap beans. The farm also has cattle and hogs. We got to pick some cucumbers at AJ Smith and Sons Farm as well as learn about the process of preparing them for packaging. And just in case you were wondering..yes, they do get waxed for preservation purposes. All cucumbers are not created equal. However, curved or straight if they were grown in NC they will taste great!

SobeSavvy Tip: When selecting a cucumber, look for cucumbers that are very firm and rounded right to the ends.

Stop 3 on the #NCFarmTour is a tour of Historic Edenton

PLAY | Thanks to the Chowan County Chamber of Commerce, we took a horse and wagon tour of historic Edenton. We learned alot of history, enjoyed nature, and viewed beautiful architecture in the “South’s Prettiest Small Town”. WATCH my youtube video of highlights from this tour:

EAT | Ended Day 1 of #NCFarmTour at Cypress Creek Grill, a family-owned restaurant is in downtown Elizabeth City, one block from the Pasquotank River. Their meals feature
fresh seafood and local ingredients. Executive Chef Bradley Chambers created a special menu that showcased the best of what Northeast NC has to offer and combined an amazing array of flavors!

STAY | We stayed in nearby Elizabeth City overnight at Fairfield Inn, which offers guest FREE breakfast with stay plus this comfy, modern hotel has an indoor pool/jacuzzi and mini fridge+ microwave in the room.

Day 2- Thursday, 6/28

Day 2 of #NCFarmTour started off at TCOM, LP

Look up in the sky..it’s a bird, it’s a plane..no it’s a blimp that has been assembled and tested at TCOM,LP located in Elizabeth City,NC. It was so cool to tour the 225-acre facility that manufactures and test aerostats (airship or hot air balloon, especially one that is tethered). The hanger is 150 feet tall and 1,000 feet long and can hold six fully-inflated 71-meter aerostats. Their blimps are used for sporting events, by the US Military and for national security. TCOM,LP
is not a blimp manufacturing company however they do make the envelope and assemble them without the mechanics on it. It was so fascinating to see up close!

SobeSavvy Tip: Here’s an interesting connection to agriculture: The first aerial applicator was not a plane,
but a hot air balloon. It was used in 1906 to spread seed over a valley in New Zealand that had flooded.

Day 2,Stop 2 #NCFarmTour John E. Ferebee Farms

This seventh-generation family farm focuses on potatoes, each year growing and packing red, white and yellow flesh potatoes. John E.Ferebee Farms potatoes are shipped across the US. They’ve also worked with many of NCDA&CS marketing programs. We met both sisters but it was Martha took us on the tour around the facility, which have washed bulk capabilities/cold storage, and onto the potato fields. I learned that summer potatoes of eastern NC come from farms situated alongside well nourished soil beside saltwater sounds/freshwater river beds. Did you know that NC produces over 16,000 acres potatoes? This farm grows 350 acres of North Carolina Potatos.

Day 2 #NCfarmtour Lunch and Tour at Weeping Radish

If you are hungry for bratwurst, beer and knowledge just talk to Uli Bennewitz, owner of Weeping Radish, a brewery, restaurant, butchery and farm that celebrates craft! He came to NC in the early 1980s, from Bavaria, Germany, established a microbrewery and worked with lawmakers to change the NC laws to allow microbreweries to sell beer directly to consumers. In addition to brewing beer, cattle and hogs are sourced from local farms and processed on-site into sausage and charcuterie. The retail counter sells sausage, pastrami, bacon and beer. The Pub serves lunch and a housemade draft root beer that you must try!

Day 2 #NCFarmTour ..a look at our visit to Sanctuary Vineyards, Jarvisburg, NC

The Wright family-owned vineyard grows a variety of grapes on 10 acres. All grapes are picked by hand and the use of french oak barrels gives their NC wine a wonderful taste. We toured the vineyards and learn how world-class wine is made at Sanctuary Vineyards. I purchased a bottle of Morton which is a red wine blend that I can not wait to enjoy!

Jennette’s Pier, Outer Banks

PLAY | Jennette’s Pier is the oldest fishing pier in the Outer Banks and has been a landmark since 1939. Fisherman catch a variety of fish from the 1,000 foot pier including red drum, speckled trout and croaker. We bloggers took advantage of the opportunity to cool our heels from all the farm tour walking at the pier since you get access to the beach!

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Today was filled with so much to learn, see and do, here are some of my fave moments from the #NCFarmTour Northeast North Carolina Day 2 w/@nc_agriculture @gottobenc ——————— •A visit to @jennettes_pier_official gave us access to the beach and a chance to see the oldest fishing pier in #OBX • We got to see who makes the envelopes for blimps and learn this history of #TCOM ,LP •John E. Ferebee Farms gave us an inside look of how they grow and pack red, white,yellow potatoes •@weepingradish is where we celebrated the craft of cooking, butchery amd farming. We had lunch at this microbrewery before taking the Beee and Brat Tour • i enjoyed tasting some NC wines from Sanctuary Vineyards and learning about their wine making process •Beautiful views from my balcony room at The Oasis Suites Hotel • Lastly, Dinner @lonecedarcafe Where their fried soft crab was some of the best I ever had caught fresh here in #NC.

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EAT | Dinner at Basnights Lone Cedar Café, located on the Roanoke Sound, is family owned/operated and serves only seafood caught in NC by local fishermen. Pork, poultry and vegetables are sourced from local farms. Herbs are grown on-site. Deserts are made from scratch daily on-site by the pastry chef. Everything we tried was delicious, especially the soft shell crab!

STAY |The Oasis Suites Hotel is the only boutique hotel on the Outer Banks. All rooms have private balconies with water views and are very spacious! Take a LOOK at my room reveal video to see for yourself how lovely this hotel property is:

Day 3-Friday, 6/29

Everything tastes better with bacon right? If you like savory and sweet, try the Maple Bacon Donut from Duck Donuts, Nags Heads

After enjoying breakfast from Duck Donuts, we started Day 3 of #NCFarmTour at O’Neals Sea Harvest in Wanchese. Sara Marabilio, who is the Fisheries Extension Specialist at NC Sea Grant, met us at the family owned and operated
seafood wholesaler to lead the tour and provide more information about NC Seafood. At O’neals Sea Harvest, you can purchase locally caught, fresh
seafood daily. The also sell fresh and frozen seafood (crab, variety of fish, shrimp & scallops) through their retail store and Monday-Friday they serve the fresh catch at their restaurant on-site.

Next stop, was nicknamed by me as Crabmeat Lover’s Heaven because Captain Neill’s Seafood, in Columbia is the largest domestic crab processing (by hand-picking) plant left. Owner Phillip Carawan started buying hard/soft-shell crabs, then opened (in 1997) a facility to process wild caught crabs caught from NC waters and purchasing daily from crabbers that dock behind their facility. Captain Neill’s processes a variety of crabmeat products in
addition to oysters, cocktail fingers and ready to eat steamed crabs.
They sell to a variety of markets, including grocery chains, under the
names Capt. Charlie’s and Capt. Neill’s. I learned that aprox 11 pounds of crab yield 1 pound of crabmeat and that an emplyee can pick the meat out of the crab in aprox 15 seconds! I left there amazed at the efficiency of the process and hungry for crab. SobeSavvy Tip: If you are a member of Sam’s Club you can purchase their crabmeat there.

EAT |Our last stop and final lunch on #NCFarmTour was at Garden Spot Café in Plymouth,NC. Located in a building built around 1900 on the banks of the Roanoke
River, this restaurant is owned by three sisters and known locally for their home-style cooking. They offer a variety of menu items to meet every taste preference. I tried the fried shrimp platter/flounder because after all that time learning more about NC seafood I was craving it!

All of these stops on the tour are just a short drive from the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh. I encourage you to take the to time to explore more of NC, shop at your local farmers market, support restaurants where you can eat local foods and buy local goods. There are so many fun ways to support our state’s number one industry, AGRICULTURE! I am so inspired to incorporate what I have learned when it comes to food that my family consumes and make sure it comes from a North Carolina Farm!

Leslie Heigh, Founder of SobeSavvy.com on the #NCFarmTour

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Photo Recap @GreatGrapesFest 4/22 in #CaryNC @drinkeatrelax @BoothAmp by SobeSavvy.com #soNCsavvy

On Saturday, April 22, 2017 Wine Lovers & Foodies came ready to “Uncork the Fun” at the 14th Annual Celebration of Great Grapes Wine and Food Festival in Cary, NC. Thanks to our friends at Drink Eat RelaxSobeSavvy.com attended the festival in order to give you an inside look of the sips, sights, the people, the pours and more! Here is my photo recap of some of what you missed…Cheers!

SIPS

Upon entering the event, we each got to take a souvenir tasting glass and stroll from tent to tent and table to table, tasting and sampling the rich heritage of North Carolina vines. Guests got to taste HUNDREDS of wines available from over 22 wineries…and even more were available for VIP ticketed guests.

If you wanted more after a sip or two and really loved the wine tasting, wine bottles were available for purchase to enjoy at the festival or later at home. 

SIGHTS

With plenty to see and lots to do, how much fun to be had at this festival totally depends on you! There was a free kids area, great live music,

 fun festival eats,

*shoutout to my hometown of Baltimore where we all are raised on Old Bay

Arts and crafts….

and gourmet items to buy. 

Sights in the The VIP Area included the following:

 
The VIP Ticket option offers you early entrance into the event, a souvenir glass & bag and access to all the show tastings.  Plus you have access to the VIP area which features specialty higher-end wine selections not available elsewhere, free water and soft drinks, and featured food tastings (served Noon – 3pm). 

 

PEOPLE

Who goes to the Great Grapes Wine and Food Festival? Everyone. Babies, Kids, Moms & Dads, Friends, Family, Guys Day Out, Ladies Meetup, anyone celebrating life. Even non drinkers are welcome to enjoy the festival and can purchase a ‘designated driver’ ticket. I even saw a bride to be enjoying her bachelorette outing with her bridesmaids. How fun!

Guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the lawn. Bring the family, bring your friends and take a day to UNCORK THE FUN!

ITEMS ALLOWED
Lawn chairs & blankets
Sealed Bottles of water (1 per person) cameras
all bags are subject to seach

POURS

Line up to your choice of winery and explore a new wine and learn more with each pour. I really enjoyed talking to the vendors and hearing the passion behind their product. 

In case you missed it..check out my photos of last year’s festival HERE !

It’s a fun event that is family friendly, so be sure not to miss in 2018! For more information please visit www.uncorkthefun.com

#WineWednesday spotlight on #NCWine from @DuplinWinery for #NCWineMonth ! #DuplinWine #NC

Wine lovers rejoice ! September is NC Wine Month…a time to celebrate the state’s $1.7 billion wine and grape industry. “North Carolina is home to more than 180 wineries, and each one is as unique as the wines it offers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “On top of that, the state has 525 grape growers from the mountains to the coast.”

We here at SobeSavvy.com kicked off our celebration with some muscadine wine. Not just ANY wine but Duplin wine. It is the world’s largest Muscadine winery and the oldest operating winery. My first introduction to Duplin wines was when a dear friend bought over a bottle as a housewarming gift when we moved to NC over a year ago. I have been a fan of the “cool,sweet,easy” wine ever since ! 

Duplin was established in 1975 in Rose Hill, NC and they have a fiercely
loyal following, not only in the south but nationwide. Sweet Muscadine wine is
what they make and that is what their customers love! Recently we had a chance to review two of their wines: Carolina Red Reserve and Sippin’Sweet Muscadine 

Carolina Red Reserve was up first. This is what I would call a “semi
formal” choice. The bottle itself is beautiful, so our expectations were pretty
high. We had this one afternoon at a sit down lunch. It was lush and very
smooth. It paired well with our seafood entree. We even used our custom Duplin
wine glasses we received when we did the tour at their N.Myrtle Beach winery location over the summer.

A few days later we decided to try out their Sippin’ Sweet Muscadine wine.
It’s hand bottled exclusively at their N.Myrtle Beach location in a classic
mason jar. A much more casual affair than the Carolina Reserve ! We had it with
some take out and it was awesome. Light and mildly sweet . We had to slow down
our sips which had turned into gulps! This is a the perfect choice for outdoor
patio BBQ or a Netflix and chill night at home. Sure to be a favorite of
everyone’s this Sippin Sweet is a bonafide winner.


Duplin has a variety of muscadine wine choices, so there is something for
everyone. They revel in not being a “snooty” wine. They like for folks to use
the “PDR” method when consuming their products. Pour…Drink..Repeat !

Duplin Winery is one of the many wineries offering a variety of special events in September, from wine tastings and grape stomps to music festivals and farm-to-table dinners. On Sept. 10  Duplin Winery is holding their annual event : Duplin Winery’s Grape Stomp in Rose Hill  I am sad to miss it but plan to make a trip out to that winery soon as I hear they have a fabulous bistro as well !

Savvy tip: Want to have your own wine tasting at home? Get a Duplin six bottle pack at a great price here and celebrate NC Wine Month before September ends! 

Cheers!