Noni Bacca Winery wears more medals than a star athlete, a decorated soldier, or a door-to-door medal salesman who wears his inventory around his neck. "The first thing you’re likely to notice after the warm greeting is a wall covered with wine bottles all sporting Olympic-like haul of medals," wrote a Star-News reporter of his visit to the Wilmington winery and tasting room. All told, there are 94 medals, each of which attests to the quality of the reds and whites within the bottles.
Noni Bacca Winery's stellar track record isn't a surprise, considering that owners Toni and Ken Incorvaia literally have winemaking in their blood. Both come from European families with long winemaking traditions: Ken's in Sicily and Toni's in Bulgaria. The couple draws on their traditional winemaking background and modern techniques to produce nearly 70 varietals on the premises. For a decadent treat, try a dessert wine such as the Chilly Bear Icewine, an intensely sweet riesling with notes of apricot and lychee.
All of Times Square Pizza's New York–style pies begin with freshly made dough. Then, a homemade pizza sauce rides to smother any blanks of the bready canvas, followed by toppings of pepperoni, bacon, green peppers, or olives. Aside from pastas and subs, customers can also pair up with drinks such as draft beers from a full bar.
Spread across Lu Mil Vineyard's 58 acres are an antique museum, a handful of cabins for overnight stays, a tasting room, and of course grapevines. Rows upon rows of sweet muscadine grapes are cultivated at the farm, named for its late owners, Lucille and Miller Taylor. In addition to producing a suite of wines, Lu Mil sells a selection of house-made jellies, jams, and NASA-engineered spittoons.
After Dustin Canestorp returned home from his tour of duty in Iraq, he and his Marine Corps buddies would gather to play poker and sample the beer Canestorp brewed at home. His dream: to brew beer professionally by opening a microbrewery in eastern North Carolina, a beach-filled haven with a craft-beer desert. That dream came to fruition, though with one additional element: Beer Army would raise funds for local charities and communities. Now, Canestorp holds festivals that introduce revelers to local and regional craft beers while gathering money for those in need. He also runs the brewery, which currently pours four of its own brews, and manages the Beer Army Outpost, a 3,000-square-foot store with a plethora of craft brews for purchase.
Since 2005, the award-winning Cypress Bend Vineyards has harnessed the rich flavors and antioxidants found in the muscadine grape. The wonder fruit has resulted in the creation of wine varietals including 13 Muscadine, one Cabernet Franc, and one Malbec. Cypress Bend's winemaker leads tours through the vineyards to detail each step of this process, from grape plucking and fermentation to monitoring each grape's 401K as it ages. The flourishing soil also plays home to live events throughout the year, such as Friday-night jazz or beach music concerts.
Railhouse Brewery founders Mike Ratkowski and Brian Evitts both did stints in the armed forces before they met while working the same job. The two shared an interest in the effervescent qualities of a good beer, and in 2009, they turned that passion into a business. Brian, a homebrewer for 20 years, oversees the production of the company's five main beers—oatmeal stout, brown ale, pale ale, honey wheat, and barley wine—and Mike handles operations, sales, and the number of bottles of beer on the wall. Together, they help bring Railhouse brews to 14 restaurants and bars in the Sandhills.
The Railhouse Brewery also frequently hosts concerts and festivals, and holds cornhole tournaments every Thursday from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, check out the event page or send a pack of investigative hops to visit the brewery.