Most of us can feel intimidated by things we think of as “luxury.” I grew up in a household where we never had wine. Wine was a luxury that was only enjoyed by people far richer and classier than we were.
When I was invited to a free wine tasting at Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, North Carolina, I was hesitant. I only went because I wanted to spend time with the folks that invited me, but I was skeptical that I would enjoy the experience. I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, now I make a point to go back every time I get a chance.
The Duplin Experience
Tom, one of the guides and bartenders at Duplin, (who also happens to be a preacher in his spare time) explained to me why their winery is so special: “When you walk into Duplin Winery, we want you to feel at home.” I couldn’t help but feel at home as my tour was guided by one of the owners, Jonathan Fussell, who kept us laughing with stories of playing among the tanks as a child and being locked into one once by his brother, who was trying to “teach him a lesson.” With his easy smile, his syrupy “come-on-in-y’all” drawl, and his Carolina Tar Heels ball cap, he embodied all that is best and beloved about Southern hospitality.
Duplin throws out the welcome mat with free tours and tastings, a homey little bistro with daily specials, and a gift shop where you can buy everything from locally crafted birdhouses to all of their variety of wines and wine-related products. This winery is as comfortable and unpretentious as one can imagine a winery being, and allowed me to learn about wine without the fear of not knowing the “right” way to do something or having intimate knowledge of the topic.
As humble and modest as Duplin is, they are not a winery to be dismissed. They currently hold the distinctive honor of being the most award-winning muscadine winery in the world. They are a three-time Impact Hot Brand Award winner and a four-time Beverage Information Group’s Fast Track Award winner. And if that isn’t prestigious enough for the wine snobs out there, their Magnolia label wine was once named Martha Stewart Living’s favorite summertime wine.
In the United States, there are 6,200 wineries. Of those, 3,000 are on the West Coast. Only 111 are in North Carolina. Duplin Winery outsells the other 110 wineries in North Carolina, combined.
There’s More than Wine at Duplin…
Duplin Winery isn’t just great at wine; they are also known for their events. From dinner theaters to their Easter Cork Hunt (because eggs are way too boring!) to their Annual Grape Stomp each September, there is always something interesting and exciting going on. Some events are free, while some require a bit of a charge.
Their website is always up-to-date and user-friendly so that you can check those details before you make your trip. (Their website also gives directions to the World’s Largest Frying Pan — which is just around the corner!)
Rose Hill isn’t a place that most folks would travel all the way to NC to visit (though I would!), but being just off of I-40, it’s a perfect stop if you’re driving along the corridor from the capital (Raleigh) to the coast (Wilmington). A B&B popular with value luxury readers is the Ashford Inn in nearby Clinton.
Since my first time at Duplin Winery, I’ve had many other wines, yet Duplin’s wines are still my favorite. I probably still don’t know all that much about wine, but I do know about family, hospitality, and a good time – all of which can always be found at Duplin Winery.