As the soulful sounds of Bobby Keys’ saxophone and the music of the Mediocre Bad Guys carried through the air, it intermingled with the sounds of laughter and the clink of bottle on glass Saturday afternoon.
It was a mood that even an afternoon rain storm and a handful of protesters couldn’t dampen.
The third annual Budbreak Wine Festival was a “huge success,” organizers said, getting bigger every year.
“I don’t know how to tell you how good it’s been,” coordinator Bob Meineke said as he sat on the patio of Old North State Winery and enjoyed a plate of barbecue from 13 Bones. “The turnout is just great.”
Fifteen wineries from North Carolina converged on Main Street in Mount Airy Saturday, welcoming more than 2,000 visitors for the festival, and vendors reported a “real good day” of sales.
During Friday night’s judging, the Trio Blend, created by Ben Webb of Old North State, was named Best in Show in the red wine category, while Carolina Heritage, a Carlos/magnolia blend of muscadine wine, won the top honors in the white wine category.
The wines were judged by a panel of 16 judges, with 12 of them being wine consumers and the other four leaders in the field. They included Bruce Heye, a wine educator and writer; Jim Collins of Winston-Salem; Ed Williams, a wine writer for the Greensboro News & Record; and David Bower of the viticulture center at Surry Community College.
“We put one experienced judge with three consumers to create a friendly atmosphere with four people sitting around a table enjoying and discussing wines,” Heye said.
Entertainment for the event was provided by Rolling Stones sax player Keys with the Mediocre Bad Guys and the Skate Rink Juke Box of Charlotte.
The event was sponsored by Neighbors Convenience Stores, WIFM and Dr. Flippin’s Bed and Breakfast. Keys’ appearance was sponsored by Interlam, custom-engraved wine glasses were sponsored by White Sulphur Springs Cabins and the food court by SouthData.
But it was the wine, coupled with the event itself, that proved the highlight of the festival.
Just ask Don and Sherri Kautzman of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, who drove down for the festival.
“This is our first time here and it has just been great,” said Sherri Kautzman. “It’s a lot bigger than I expected.”
Her husband agreed.
“This is a good, good crowd and a wonderful event,” he said. “We’re already making plans to come back next year. The wines are just great!”
Meineke touted the efforts of an “army of volunteers” with the success of the vent.
“Thanks to a great team of Rotary Club members, friends and volunteers, the setup and festival is going smooth as silk,” he said as he surveyed the crowd. “And we couldn’t do this without our sponsors.
“From my perspective, we look forward to continued growth, success and economic contributions to the Mount Airy community.”
And from the perspective of Native Vines of Lexington, who attended the festival for the first time Saturday, Meineke’s prediction will ring true.
“This is going very well,” said Angie Cave. “Before we were even open people were trying to get a glass of our wine. This is a really good venue for getting our wine some exposure and we’ll be back for sure!”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.