Crabdaddy celebrates bounty from Currituck waters and vines

By on September 24, 2018

Poppy and Sifer stomping grapes during the Great Currituck Grape Stomp. (Kip Tabb)

Jessie Chong Band with Jessie Chong on guitar. (Kip Tabb)

Jessie Chong Band with Jessie Chong on guitar. (Kip Tabb)

A crowd of around 750 from all over the region spread out across the north lawn of the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg Saturday to celebrate the bounty from the waters and vines of Currituck County.

It was a celebration of the wine harvest at Sanctuary Vineyards and the annual appearance of Crabdaddy as he “emerges from the Currituck Sound, bringing a bounty of fresh seafood for everyone to enjoy.”

The sun was shining, the temperature was just about perfect for the last day of summer; there was some great music from the Jesse Chong Band and Trae Pierce and The T-Stones. There was beer, wine, some great barbecue and crab, lots and lots of crab.

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“We went through about 75 bushels,” said Hunter Stuart, Bells Island resident and owner of I Got Your Crabs in Kitty Hawk. “It went well.”

On the wine side, the harvest was affected by the weather this year, but Sanctuary Vineyard owner John Wright seemed confident in what the future will bring.

“We had one of the most difficult harvests we’ve ever had, but we’re going to get some good wines out of it,” Wright said.

“I’d say that Tannat, Petit Verdot, Albariño and Cabernet Sauvignon fared well,” Wright said. “The Cab Franc was left out through the storm since we couldn’t take it all in time, and it survived, but just barely.”

It may end up producing a great wine, but it will be because of hard work in the winery,” Wright added.

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I Got Your Crabs providing 75 bushels of steamed crab. (Kip Tabb)

I Got Your Crabs provided the crustaceans. (Kip Tabb)

That, however, is another year or two in the distance. And for Crabdaddy, there was plenty of wine to go with the fresh steamed crabs on Saturday.

Sanctuary Vineyards has been producing some very good wines that have earned a number of honors, including being named the North Carolina Winegrower of Excellence in 2015.

The Vineyard offers almost 20 different wines, from some big heavy reds to sweet muscadine wines. There are probably no wrong choices to match with the crab, but the Albariño, which is bottled as Pearl, and the Wildflower, which is a dry rose, seemed to go very well.

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For the beer drinkers, three local breweries were on hand. Weeping Radish, almost across the road from the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg, was there along with Lost Colony Brewery in Manteo and the recently opened Northern Outer Banks Brewing Company from Elizabeth City.

What makes Crabdaddy such a wonderful event is everything that goes with it.

Any event that takes place at the Cotton Gin is family-friendly, and Crabdaddy is no exception. There were hayrides all afternoon and the fun and games are age appropriate for all.

There was the Crab Pot Shotput, the Crab Crawl Race and what is probably the most prestigious event, the Great Currituck Grape Stomp.

Building on the traditions of the great wine harvests of Europe, the Grape Stomp pits two person teams in competition as they try to be the first to fill a large chalice with juice produced solely by the souls of their feet.

Wooden tubs are placed side by side filled with what appears to be scuppernong grapes. Teams take their place in the tubs and at a signal, begin stomping. The winner of each heat goes on, until a winner emerges.

It’s fun, it’s funny and it seems to be the perfect way to celebrate the bounty of fresh seafood and the harvest time in the vineyards.

Next up for events at Sanctuary Vineyards is The Big Currishuck on Nov. 24, with lots and lots of steamed oysters; the perfect way to wrap up Thanksgiving Weekend.

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