Those looking to taste wine and draft beers from breweries and vineyards around the state have to travel no further than Carolina’s Vineyards and Hops (CV&H) on South Marshall Street.
CV&H is a tasting lounge with a unique concept: it carries only products produced here in North Carolina. Its menu offers new selections every two weeks, constantly offering customers a different experience, and its selections are always vast since the Tarheel State is home to the most craft beer breweries in the South and more than 100 wineries.
“There’s nothing like this in the state; we lay claim to being the first in the state,” said CV&H Owner Christopher Megginson about his concept of exclusively carrying North Carolina beer and wine.
Megginson, who formerly worked in both real estate and social work, is a longtime wine and beer enthusiast, who, through his travels throughout the state, has gotten to know the owners of wineries and breweries. These relationships gave birth to the concept for CV&H, which opened in October.
Megginson is all about touting area companies and people. His desire to offer customers a unique experience extends to the charcuterie (cured meat) and cheeses that are provided by local vendors and offered to CV&H-goers as “perfect complements” to their beer or wine. Every Saturday, the CV&H Quartet, made up of local musicians, play live music.
“We’re welcoming everyone who can appreciate what this state has to offer, whether it be the local musical scene or if it’s the farms, the creameries, the breweries or the wineries,” said Megginson. “We just want to give it a stage, and showcase what we have to offer.”
CV&H is located near the Gateway YWCA, Old Salem Museum and Gardens, Salem College and the UNC School of the Arts in The Summit at Gateway, a mixed use building that houses both businesses and condos. It’s that “live, work, play” atmosphere that drew Megginson to the location.
He’s created a classy upscale space, where much of the furnishings was created with 200-year-old American chestnut wood. In fact, wood is a constant theme there. The host/hostess podium was crafted from a tree trunk, while the former base of a massive tree supports a large glass-top table surrounded by leather love seats and plush chairs. CV&H also boasts a 1,000-square-foot outdoor patio.
Among the lounge’s many high-tech features is a tasting room with a monitor that allows customers to connect live to the winery that produced the drink they are enjoying; a self-pay wine station that is always stocked with four white wines and four reds; and the state’s only licensed beer wall that lets customers pour their own drafts.
Megginson doesn’t want casual beer and wine lovers to be overwhelmed by CV&H. He says it’s for customers with all levels of beer and wine experience and those with more generic palates. Aside from the cheese and charcuterie, a number of “fun complements” are available like panini sandwiches, marinated veggies, smoked salmon bites, jam and various other spreads. CV&H’s menu is also customer-friendly, describing how each wine and beer tastes, how it is made and where it was made.
“Some folks initially think you got to know a lot about the beer or you got to know a lot about the wine, and that was the whole sole purpose of creating the menu the way I created the menu – so everything is self explanatory,” Megginson said.
CV&H is open to the public four days a week – Thursday through Sunday – allowing Megginson and his staff time to personally pick up the wine, beer and other products from around the state. The lounge also hosts private events.
CV&H’s small staff includes Megginson’s brother, Mike Robinson, who serves as operations manager. Robinson, a recent UNC Pembroke graduate, said while the lounge offers the type of experience you’d expect in a larger more metropolitan area, it’s a welcoming relaxed environment with no dress code. He said once new customers get the tour of all there is to offer, they love it.
“It has a modern but classic feel,” he said. “Obviously, being all local stuff, it’s really exciting to people in the community when they come out. It’s definitely something different that they haven’t experienced before in this area.”
CV&H is located at 1111 South Marshall Street, Suite 184. Its normal hours are Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m.-11 p.m., Saturday from 4 p.m.-12 a.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m.-10 p.m. During the National Black Theatre Festival it will have extended hours today (Thursday) through Saturday, with live music each night, a dessert bar and no cover charge.