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PUBS, PATIOS & BARS:A toast to beverage craftswomen

With International Women’s Day set to be celebrated on Monday (March 8), many destinations around the world – North Carolina included – are tipping a glass to toast some of their top tastemakers. Here are a just a few women making headlines in the state’s beverage sector and who help to tickle the tastebuds of locals and visitors alike.

• Mena Killough Pratt is a Master distiller for Unknown Brewing Company’s small-batch distilling project. Pratt became the first woman to win on the Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners: Master Distiller” with her absinthe. This has been a whirlwind of a year for her as she went from bartending to making hand sanitizer to distilling liquor. Pratt is also the founder and heart of the Green Faerie Apothecary, a project that has allowed her to bridge her knowledge of herbalism into the realm of cocktails and spirits, focusing on the combination of booze and extractions as a tool to shift consciousness. The company offers workshops, high quality botanicals and herbal goods for spirits, cocktail and self care.

• In 2013, with fond memories of olives plucked from her grandfather’s dirty martinis, Melissa Katrincic launched Durham Distillery – a craft gin, vodka and liqueur distillery located in the heart of the New South, Durham, NC. With her chemist-trained husband, head distiller Lee, the husband-wife duo became the first distillers in the South to be inducted into The Gin Guild. Katrincic’s vision – to combine time-honoured gin making traditions with techniques borrowed from modern chemistry – results in spirits that are both classic and contemporary. Today, Durham Distillery produces award-winning gins and as president and CEO, Katrincic is a leader in craft distilling and the American South’s gin revolution, and continues to trail blaze with new products, markets, and as a speaker for distilling and female entrepreneurship.

• When Troy Ball of Asheville Distilling moved to the mountains outside of Asheville from Texas, she didn’t know much about moonshine. But once she made friends with her neighbours, they decided to teach her. Determined to find the perfect moonshine recipe, Troy began testing recipes acquired from the North Carolina State Archives and residents from Madison to McDowell counties. She became the first woman in the nation with a license to make whiskey and opened Troys & Sons in Asheville in 2010 to make moonshine from heirloom corn grown in Rutherford County. Since then she has expanded the line into three distinct products: Troy & Sons Platinum, barrel-aged Oak Reserve, and Blonde Whiskey, all of which fall under the Asheville Distilling Co. umbrella.

Megan Tipton is a winemaker at Davesté Vineyards in Troutman, NC.

• Sharon Fenchak (banner photo) has served as head winemaker for the Biltmore Winery since 2018, creating wines worthy of the finest Vanderbilt traditions of taste and style. Fenchak comes off a year that saw e-commerce sales for her winery more than double. 2020 marked the 35th anniversary for the winery (it’s America’s most visited) and the 125th anniversary for the Biltmore Estate. Fenchak joined Biltmore in 1999 as assistant winemaker to veteran French winemaker Bernard Delille and was promoted to winemaker in 2003.

• A degree in chemical engineering has served Jennifer Foulides well in her role as winemaker at Silver Fork Winery in Morganton. A decade ago, the former financial exec in New York and husband Ed Wisnieski purchased the vineyard, where European-style vinifera had been grown since 1992, and began producing wine, including a well-received chardonnay aged in French oak.

• Mara Shelton is president and co-owner of Tobacco Wood Brewing Co., North Carolina’s first female, veteran-owned brewery (the state is now home to six breweries owned by women and 26 owned by veterans).

• Briana Brake and Celeste Beatty are two trailblazers in the craft beer industry: Brake is the founder and brewer of Spaceway Brewing Co., and Beatty the founder and brewer of Harlem Brewing. Together, the pair have teamed up to create Rocky Mount Brewery in the historic Rickey Mount mills, where they brew signature craft recipes that celebrate the living culture and history of region.

• In 2013 Kristie Nystedt opened Raleigh Brewing Company, making her the first woman in North Carolina to own a craft brewery. Now she president and CEO of three companies: Raleigh Brewing Co., Atlantic Brew Supply, and Atlantic Brew Supply – Commercial, an international provider of brewing equipment. She is a strong advocate for the craft brewing industry in North Carolina.

With glass purposefully in hand, we at Travel Industry Today continue our series on some of the planet’s best bars, patios and rooftop venues. For more articles in the series, click here:


First published at Travel Industry Today

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