Tourist in my own city

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Tourist in my own city

A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure to be a tourist in my own city with some wonderful travel writers. They flew in from across the country to discover the fun right here in Johnston County.

While I write often about Johnston County, I’ve never really stepped out of my “resident” life to experience it as a tourist in my own city — and I didn’t expect to learn much. It turns out, there’s always more to learn (yeah…. I should have known that.)

If you’re a JoCo local, read along. See if anything surprises you. And for those of you not fortunate enough to call “JoCo” home, welcome to life in my hometown.

Beer, Wine and Shine Trail

Gregory Vineyards in VisitJoCo

Johnston County has long held to its “dry county” status, only allowing sales of liquor by the glass since 1997. While many communities in the county have passed liquor laws allowing sales of beer and other spirits, much of the county is still “dry.”

When I moved here in 2001, that’s how it was. And I got used to it pretty quickly. There’s been a lot of change especially in the past five years.

What I already knew

  • Hinnant Vineyards and Gregory Vineyards both produce fabulous muscadine wines.
  • Both vineyards offer wine tastings and tours.
  • Johnston County has local beer breweries — and that’s all I knew about that.
  • Broadslab Distillery makes amazingly tasty, legal moonshine (though I had not personally confirmed its tastiness, I knew that everyone who tries it really likes it).
Broadslab Distillery

What I learned

  • Gregory Vineyards grew grapes for sale long before they got into the wine business. Their debut was such a success, winning double gold in its first competition, they knew they were on to something.
  • The local breweries are Double Barley and Deep River. Both offer a variety of craft beers, fabulous atmosphere and participate in community events! They are proud to be part of JoCo.
  • I like Deep River’s Cottontown Lager. That may not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but it’s the first beer I’ve ever actually liked.
  • Broadslab Distillery is incredible. Owner Jeremy Norris is not messing around! His passion for excellent moonshine is evident in everything. And the smooth whiskey is really good. Yep, I discovered that I like moonshine, especially Broadslab Legacy Appleshine.

My recommendation

Not that I think y’all need much help here, but check out the Beer, Wine and ‘Shine Trail.

Tour the wineries. Learn the history and process of making GOOD moonshine at Broadslab Distillery — and then enjoy a tasting. Discover what makes these passionate entrepreneurs so successful. Sure, they make beer, wine and ‘shine, but they are as committed to the community as they are to their craft. It was an honor to meet them all.

There is more to do in Johnston County than some might guess. We also had:

  • A tour of the Ava Gardner Museum
  • A walking tour of downtown Clayton (have you been lately? There are tons of independent shops and restaurants to enjoy!)

Really, there’s so much to do right here in Johnston County! “Playing” tourist in my own city, I was thrilled to discover new things and see it through the eyes of other travel writers.

Local friends, what would you recommend to an out of towner?