Cheers to Fall
Sips for autumn
As temps drop, change up your palate with these recommendations from some new wine and bottle shops.
Fall is officially here, and there is nothing better than a seasonal beverage to capture the essence of this time of year. As Wilmington’s local craft beer and wine scene continues to grow, local woman-owned businesses offer their top recommendations for autumnal drinks that will be sure to capture the flavors of fall in a glass – or bottle or can. While many associate fall with Oktoberfests and pumpkin-based beverages, these tastemakers offer some out-of-the-box alternatives that are equally as fitting.
126 Sebrell Avenue
Hours: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays
Owners: Wendy Worden and Julie Curry
Sisters WENDY WORDEN and JULIE CURRY curated Wendy’s House as a unique, self-serve wine and food experience. Customers can enjoy a cozy, welcoming destination sipping wine and indulging in cheese, fine chocolates, and charcuterie throughout multiple seating areas and a spacious enclosed patio.
“Our concept is different, and we’re in the middle of trying to brand ourselves,” Worden says. “It’s kind of a lobby and a lounge but also a house.”
With a vast selection of wines from around the world, customers can enjoy anything from a sample to a full bottle of wine and create their own charcuterie boards of delectable treats. Wendy’s House also carries beer from Mad Mole Brewing, where Worden’s husband, Chris, is a partner.
The sisters are in the planning stages of future projects. The hope is to expand the business and create the Venue at Wendy’s House to include neighboring property and also to offer educational wine classes, in an approachable format.
“We don’t want the snob appeal,” Worden says. “We are a down-to-earth, whimsical place to go and enjoy a girls night out or date night.”
Robert Biale Vineyards Black Chicken (Napa Valley, Zinfandel, 2018)
“This red wine is highly rated by various wine critics as a balanced drinkable Zinfandel with abundant layers of fruit and Earthy tones, along with chocolate, licorice, dried herbs, and spices. Great with soft cheeses and charcuterie for a fall afternoon snack or serve during dinner with a bone-in pork chop and roasted veggies.”
Two Old Dogs (Saint Helena, Rosé, 2020)
“This delightful dry, crisp rosé expresses fruit and floral notes of spiced pear and orange blossom. Its lower alcohol creates a delicate and refreshing mouth feel, making it a perfect companion with a bowl of butternut squash soup with a swirl of cream and sprinkled with crunchy croutons.”
No Girls (Walla Walla Valley, Grenache, 2016)
“This critically-acclaimed selection is crafted by a female – Elizabeth Courcier – and is a big, beautiful wine bursting with red fruit – berries, cherries, and spiced plum – along with mineral and floral notes. Pair with a cassoulet or lightly spiced Mexican dish on a cool fall evening.”
The Hop Yard
108 Grace Street
Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 7 p.m. Sundays
Co-owner: Susan Barnes
As Raleigh-based bottle shop and bar, The Hop Yard, celebrates its seventh anniversary this year, its owners decided to open a Wilmington location earlier in 2021.
“The beer industry here is growing and with the number of breweries opening, it’s becoming part of the downtown culture,” says Barnes, who owns a condo in Wilmington. “It seemed like a great place to open another location.”
The Hop Yard features twenty-four taps – four reserved for wine – and selections rotate frequently based on availability, seasonality, and customer request. The wine taps are reserved for two reds, one white, and a rosé, but those change frequently as well.
The Hop Yard sells more than 200 different bottles and cans of craft brews, as well as bottles of wine, cans of wine, ciders, alcoholic seltzers, and kombucha. While food is not served at this location, Barnes welcomes customers to bring in take-out from area restaurants.
Customers who come in for a beverage can also peruse the local artwork exhibited for sale throughout The Hop Yard.
High Country Honey, American Amber/Red, Booneshine Brewing Company (Boone, N.C.)
“Coming from the North East of England, I really enjoy darker beers and have a special love for brown and amber/red ales. One of my favorite amber ales out at the moment is High Country Honey. They have it listed as a summer beer, but I also think it’s great for early fall and it is an easy drink by itself at 5.8% ABV.”
Julian Hard Cider: Apple Pie, Julian Hard Cider (Julian, California)
“Many breweries these days are producing a great range of reduced-gluten beers. Hard cider also provides an often gluten-free alternative to the hoppy, malty flavors of beer.”
“I also really enjoy sours, and there are some great sours out for fall at the moment. A couple of my favorites are Grandma Fingers: Apple Pie by Arkane Aleworks and Heist Brewery Pick’n Series (Blueberry Pomegranate) Fruited Berliner Weisse.”
Bottles Natural Wine Bar
615 South 15th Street
Hours: Noon to 9 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays | noon to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays | 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays
General Manager: Kristin Wood
As Wilmington’s first natural wine bar, Bottles offers a vast array of unique natural wines, along with both local and national craft beers. With an inviting, nature-inspired vibe, Bottles can accommodate guests both inside and on its outdoor patio, lush with live plants.
“These selections are all made with only the highest quality of organic fruit, farmed sustainably and with minimal intervention, additives, and sulfites,” Wood says.
“We offer these recommendations by the glass and by the bottle in the wine bar where you can start by experiencing these styles, then allow us to point you in the right direction and select something comparable available in the bottle shop.”
According to Wood, Bottles signature offering is the Pét-Nat varietal, which is naturally sparkling wine offered by the glass, bottle, and on the retail side, which opens November 1.
“It’s basically a party in a bottle,” Wood says.
Bottles also offers a variety of beer selections, with eight rotating North Carolina-based taps. Breweries are represented with new releases, seasonal items, and small-batch products.
Domaine St. Cyr “La Galoche” (Gamay; Beaujolais, France)
“From this beloved region in France, the Beaujolais is a well-known accompaniment to all fall and holiday fare. This beautiful light-medium-bodied red wine offers smooth tannins, intense aromatics of raspberries and plum; exhibits a lively expression of red fruit and clean minerality on the palate.”
Vivanterre White Pét-Nat “PRS” (Loire Valley, France)
“A very special and naturally sparkling wine made in limited production, referred to as a Pét-Nat. This lively yet elegant bottle of bubbles offers notes of orchard and stone fruit on the nose and palate with savory and herbaceous tones. Absolutely perfect to start a celebration or end the evening and pairs incredibly well with cheese! This Pet-Nat is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Sylvaner.”
Denny Bini “Spuma” (Ancestral Method Lambrusco; Emilia- Romagna, Italy)
“This dry style of Lambrusco is made in the ancestral method of sparkling wine, meaning a single fermentation in the bottle. Its pink frothy bubbles lead you to aromas of strawberry, cherry, earth, and wildflowers with a fruit-driven finish. Fantastic on its own and with a wide variety of seasonal dishes.”
Wendy’s House photo by Daria Amato
To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to dariaphoto.com
The Hop Yard photos by Terah Wilson
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.
Bottles Natural Wine Bar photos by Madeline Gray
To view more of photographer Madeline Gray’s work, go to madelinegrayphoto.com.
Want more WILMA? Click here to sign up for our WILMA newsletters and announcements.