Sanctuary Vineyards takes home gold in 2023 NC Wine Competition

Published 12:04 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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Currituck County’s Sanctuary Vineyards won the North Carolina Governor’s Cup for their best-selling wine, “The Plank,” in the muscadine grape category of the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services 2023 Wine Competition. This is the state’s most prestigious award for winemaking and no small feat for the locally-owned and operated vineyard in Jarvisburg.

The Wright family has produced seven generations worth of dedicated farmers that have called Currituck County home. John Wright, general manager for Sanctuary Vineyards, has worked to honor his family’s farming tradition in curating a uniquely satisfying line of hand-crafted, award-winning wines.

“We’ve always adapted based on the agriculture and the economy,” Wright shared with The Coastland Times. When the farm was first established, it produced corn, wheat and soy beans. While Wright was growing up, the family’s focus shifted to potato farming before transitioning to what the farm is today. “I wanted to do something that would put Sanctuary into the marketplace … and try something that we are actually taking an active part in raising.”

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Sanctuary Vineyards boasts 10 acres of grapes that are situated amongst hundreds of acres of farmland and natural reservoirs. The idea behind all of the wines produced by the vineyard revolves around the history of the Outer Banks and Currituck County, as well as the prevalent farming culture that is embedded within the area.

The Plank, a bright red wine, offers a blend of muscadine and cabernet franc, harbored in an old-age European bottle with blood red wax to seal it off. “When you put them together [the grapes] and then you age them, it develops a complexity that I don’t think you typically see in most muscadine wines that you’ll try,” Wright explained. The imagery pressed on the bottle showcases the face of Blackbeard the pirate, and the name suggests a popular pirate tradition: walking the plank, which highlights a chapter in history book of the Outer Banks.

The Plank won the hearts of the judges for the 2023 Wine Competition. “They found that they liked it and that it was the best of that class,” Wright said. This isn’t the first time one of Sanctuary’s concoctions has taken home the gold. Award-winning Sanctuary wines that were bestowed with medals just this year include their rosé Wildflowers and albariño Pearl, along with two handcrafted blends, Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wright shared that the intention behind all of the wines produced at Sanctuary is that of authenticity. His goal with each bottle is to capture a wine that tastes like it’s from Currituck County. Appreciating the natural course of the farming cycle has led Wright to utilize what he’s given and run with it. “The farm will give you the grapes that it wants to give you.” From there, the development of flavors begins.

Over the years, Sanctuary Vineyards has grown with the Outer Banks community and learned to value the importance of partnering with local organizations. Their Wild Pony White wine connects to a very special piece of Currituck County, the wild horses of Corolla. A portion of the proceeds made off of this blend benefit the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, which seeks to protect and preserve the wild horses.

The Sanctuary shop features hand-painted surfboards and artwork from local artists. Wright said he draws inspiration for new wine labels from these designs and enjoys creating new sips that are reminiscent of such area-specific work. Along with featuring artwork, Sanctuary also hosts events where local non-profit organizations can come and actively fundraise in their community. “We want to spread the love around,” Wright said. “The Outer Banks is full of nonprofits that could really use more support.”

All in all, Sanctuary Vineyards has become a household name in and around the Outer Banks, gaining recognition state-wide and beyond. Tastings are available daily at the shop, from 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Stop by and try their award-winning wine, and learn more at