A Sanctuary Trip
We’re crossing the Currituck Sound at a sedate eight or ten knots with Captain Christine Lester at the helm of the pontoon boat. We left the Duck Pier by Kitty Hawk Kites about five minutes ago, headed across the sound to Sanctuary Vineyards to do some wine tasting.
There’s a little breeze from the SSE, a few puffy clouds but no threat of rain, the temperature is in the mid 80s—if ever I needed a reminder of why I live on the Outer Banks, this is it. A couple from the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania is also on the trip, there is a little bit of chop as we get farther out into the sound but Christine is quartering the waves perfectly so it’s not bad at all.
Chirstine seems young to have the skills she has, but growing up in Wanchese, as it turns out she’s been on the water for some time.
“Since I was really young,” she tells us. “My dad and I used to go shrimping and crabbing before school in the morning.”
She also has worked on fishing boats up and down the East Coast. “Long lining from New Jersey and south,” she says. “It’s hard work but I liked it. Most of the time,” she adds.
We’re coming up on the creeks that lead to Dews Island on the back side of the Cotton Gin where Sanctuary Vineyards is located. Dews Island, operated by the Wright family who own the Cotton Gin, is one a very few Currituck hunt clubs that is still operating. We’re not going to the club house, although we can see it rising above the reeds and low lying trees that line the shore.
There’s a wooden bridge in front of us and Christine issues emphatic instructions. “You have to sit down,” she tells us.
We dock and take a short drive on a farm road to the tasting room.
John Wright started Sanctuary Vineyards 13 or 14 years ago, and the wines have been steadily improving. Some of that is learning how to grow the grape; some of it is learning how to make the wine, but what really seems to stand out, is an understanding of which grapes are going to be most successful in the hot climate of coastal North Carolina.
The tasting room, which is the front end of the production facility, has been managed by Elton since it opened four years ago. Elton is certainly one of the highlights of tasting wine at the vineyard—he has a marvelous sense of humor, he knows his wine and he is a repository of Outer Banks information for the visitors.
The three passengers on the trip agreed that the best wines that were poured were the dry wines—but that’s a question of palate. The sweet wine, not my preference, were very well balanced and well made.
Personal preference for me was the Aglianico, a red grape native to southern Italy that is not common at all in the US. Full-bodied, nice fruit up front with a little bit of tannin on the finish, it was a very good wine.
The other wine that scored high for me was the Pearl made with the Albarino grape, a Spanish varietal known for making light, dry and refreshing white wines.
We finished our tasting, headed back to the boat and cruised back to Duck. No excitement, just a wonderful way to remember how special the Outer Banks can be.
The Sanctuary Wine boat trip can be booked through Kitty Hawk Kites.