It began with Dr. "Bud" and Maryann Azzato having a passion for wine and desiring to share with their friends and guests. They decided to open a winery and purchased equipment from a winery going out of business in Massachusetts. They bought the property and building that was formerly "Sim's Barbeque Restaurant" which had been a local landmark for many years. The building was vacant for 7 years prior to it's purchase. Maryann gutted the building and after extensive renovation and additions to the existing building, Silver Coast Winery was born and opened in May of 2002. In the fall of 2002, wine making operations began... using premium grapes carefully selected from vineyards in the mountain regions of NC, GA, and VA.
Due to the climate and presence of a disease called Pierces Disease (a bacterial disease native to the southeastern United States), the winery is unable to grow the variety of grapes that are used in their European style wines. As a result of Pierces Disease, only Muscadine and Scuppernong grapes can grow in this area. Due to this, the grapes are sourced from the Yadkin River Valley as well as the mountains of Northern Georgia and Virginia. The very best growers and vineyard sites are selected when choosing the grapes. The winemaker, Dana Keeler, visits these sites 2-3 times a year to check on the development of the vineyards. He carefully coordinates the harvest and delivery of the grapes to the winery. Immediately upon picking, the grapes are placed in a refrigerated tractor-trailer to preserve the quality and are delivered no later than the next day. And from there, the wine making process begins.
Silver Coast wines are expertly crafted by our multi-award winning Winemaker, Dana Keeler. Dana started his career in the Finger Lakes of New York at Bully Hill Vineyards in 1976 where he trained under winemaker/nurseryman Hermann Wiemer. After 3 years, he became the head winemaker and assumed the role of General Manager at Bully Hill. He has worked as winemaker and winemaker/general manager for some of the top wineries of the Finger Lakes Region. In these roles he was actively involved in shaping many of the changes that took place on the New York scene. He has consulted with numerous wineries throughout the North East. His exposure to North Carolina began in as a consultant, causing him to see the potential of this new region. This discovery and one snow storm too many, led to a decision to become part of it. In 2003, Dana began consulting with the Silver Coast Winery and in 2004, decided to join Silver Coast full-time as the winemaker.
Throughout his career, he has been involved in wine education and appreciation activities, present at numerous seminars and wine conferences as well as lecturing at Cornell University and Ohio State University. He has functioned as a wine judge in numerous wine competitions - national, international and state/regional events and currently conducts a small regional wine competition for the eastern Carolinas.
Since coming on board in 2004, his expertise has won the winery over 400 national and international medals for our European style wines.
Silver Coast wines are modeled after traditional, European styles. We also produce wines using hybrid grapes such as our signature Seyval Blanc and Traminette. All of our wines are dry to semi-dry, aged in traditional oak barrels or stainless tanks depending upon the varietal. Our winery offers full tours of our production facility along with daily wine tastings of your choice. From American Oak Chardonnay to White Merlot and Touriga, we are sure to have a wine that perfectly pairs with your palate. The Ocean Isle Beach location offers cheese plates for purchase to enjoy with our wines or you are welcome to pack a picnic of your own to bring along!