Owner and vintner Dr. Lane Gregory and his staff of merry winemakers harvest their wine grapes from the fertile muscadine vines that flourish on Gregory Vineyards' 120 acres of lush farmland. The winery's Old World tasting room and wood furniture lend a rustic atmosphere to samplings of cleverly named wines such as Sly Fox, Ruth Walton, or the dry white known as Bald Eagle. Like North Carolina's banana trees, the regional muscadine grape thrives from late August until early October, giving Dr. Gregory and company only a matter of weeks to harvest the tough-skinned fruit. In addition to tastings, the handsome property plays host to weddings and other special events. And, on an average day, visitors may be spotted taking wine tours with Dr. Gregory or exploring the vineyard's lake on romantic two-person pedal boats.
Laugh Out Loud hosts well-established laugh conjurers and undiscovered comedic masterminds capable of leaving the audience doubled over in harmonized chuckles. Past Laugh Out Loud audience-slayers have graced the stages of HBO, Showtime, and Comedy Central, and upcoming performers include musical comedian Ron Feingold, who produces a cappella backup, lead, and percussive vocals with his three separate mouths (July 28–30). Lyndel Pleasant, a former stagemate of Chris Rock, weaves anecdotes of marriage and fatherhood into his act (August 4–6), and Ward Anderson, author of The Ultimate Bachelor’s Guide, tackles audiences with his physical comedy (August 11–13). All shows last approximately two hours and showcase three comedians or one mythical hydra that wants to know what the deal is with airplane peanuts.
The chefs at Draft Carolina Burgers & Beers craft specialty burgers out of high-grade, local beef, boasting an extensive array of chuck cylinders alongside salads, sandwiches, and shareable appetizers. Every day, grass-fed Angus beef is ground in-house, eventually transforming into finger-bound feasts such as the Southern Lovin', a burger topped with fried green tomatoes, Holly Grove Farms goat cheese, bacon, and balsamic. Thanks to their partnership with the Mash House Brewery, Draft Carolina's bartenders decant ice-cold brews such as the Mash House blonde and the Mash House IPA, which won the 2001 Great American Beer Festival medal for Hoppy Hour IPA. Billiards and shuffleboard make ideal after-dinner entertainment, and a casual, welcoming atmosphere greets diners inhabiting all points of the monocle-to-jorts fanciness scale.
Oliver Twist Lounge buzzes with an effortlessly romantic vibe thanks to its candlelit interior, which brims with sumptuous dark-red and maroon accents. Artistically crafted plates showcase Spanish-style tapas crafted from verdant veggies and spicy seafood, and more than 20 specialty martinis and an extensive wine list complement each savory bite. Chefs cook up morsels well into the night, and a jam-packed calendar of entertainment—ranging from live music to belly dancers—propels guests from their perches in the VIP room onto their feet or extremely limber elbows.
At Trali Irish Pub, chef Eamonn Kelly has masterminded a diverse menu of traditional Irish fare. The daily-changing carvery menu harks back to medieval Ireland and stuffs stomachs with freshly cut meats in dishes such as meat loaf, slice steak tips with bourbon-peppercorn sauce, and corned beef and cabbage ($9.95 each). Edibles such as a fresh-fruit waffle with bacon and eggs ($9) and the traditional Irish breakfast—replete with irish sausage, rashers, and a grilled tomato buttressed by home fries, beans, and eggs ($12)—populate the brunch menu, and Trali's catering services deliver succulent Irish grub right to hungry doorsteps, dropping off items such as sandwich platters ($3.50–$4.50/sandwich), handmade desserts ($3–$40), and bangers and mash ($40).
Having materialized only recently in a puff of grill-smoke, The Artisan and its grizzled restaurant veteran, chef Justin Hourani, conjures a menu of Greek and Mediterranean delights out of locally grown, organic produce. An opener of steamed mussels in a tomato garlic sauce with a dash of ouzo ($9) synchronizes taste buds so that they hum harmoniously from the flavor-symphony of the lamb shank, which arrives braised with carrots, potatoes, and vegetables in a red-wine tomato sauce, garnished with rosemary and cinnamon ($17). Diners nursing more hippo-like hungers will leave full after a repast of herbed chicken sautéed in creamy ouzo sauce ($14) or the Alexander, a seasoned chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta and crowned with cheese and tears from the realization that there are no more worlds to conquer ($14). Adventurous vegetarians, meanwhile, can avoid offending their bovine blind date with the veggie mousakas, made with flippant eggplant, zucchini, and potato in a béchamel sauce with grated cheese ($12).