An Oasis of Country Coastal Living

By Lexi Holian | Wednesday, June 22, 2016

There’s a place just over the bridge in Currituck County that some would call a little slice of heaven. Set amidst more than 200 acres of working farmland and serene coastal vineyards, The Cotton Gin invites you to sip local wine in the shade of native pines, grab a light bite to eat and meander through the store’s myriad of rooms where country and coastal come together. 

The classic building probably hasn’t changed all that much since the Wright family purchased the former cotton gin back in the 1960s – well, on the outside at least. The various nooks indoors offer an eye-catching array of clothing, garden accents, home furnishings, gifts and beach-themed décor. It’s the type of store that will leave you lost in the best possible way. Next door, the award-winning winery produces chardonnay, syrah, cabernet sauvignon and even muscadine wines well known in North Carolina. And outside, in the space high over the pine tops, you’ll often spot a hang glider riding the air thermals as fliers view the vineyards and nearby coastline from above.

Thyme & Tide Cafe, Cotton Gin, Sanctuary Vineyards

Each room within The Cotton Gin is entirely its own whether its theme be bedding or nautical décor. You will find a room filled with scented candles, a charming nook just for children and areas that offer decorations specific to major holidays (many of which are representative of your love for the Outer Banks too!). Well-known brands you’ll discover include Vineyard Vines, Pandora, Simply Southern Tees, Endless Jewelry and so much more. And if you’re staying a little closer to the sea, you can explore The Cotton Gin locations in Corolla, Duck and Nags Head too.

Of course, the eclectic retailer always has something new and eye-catching no matter what time of year you visit. This summer it might be the Sand Dune jewelry that calls to you. The silver rings and bracelets are inlaid with actual Outer Banks sand – a beautiful reminder of your time spent on our shores and a great gift for loved ones. Visitors this summer will also notice an expansion to the Duck store if they stay in the northern Outer Banks. The store has the same look and feel of the main store in Jarvisburg, and now that it has doubled in size there are even more items offered.

Although you could spend hours wandering The Cotton Gin, you’ll want to make time to see the rest of the Jarvisburg property too. “There is a medley of home furnishings, gifts, décor and apparel, but it’s also about experiences,” said general manager John Wright. “You can hang glide. You can have some breakfast and walk through the vineyards.”

The Cotton Gin and Sanctuary Vineyards are home to an array of events and weddings that all stay true to the farm’s tranquil, welcoming nature. In the summertime and early fall, Sanctuary Vineyards plays host to a free weekly outdoor concert called Acoustic Sunsets. The family friendly (and dog friendly) get-together welcomes locals and visitors alike to sip wine at picnic tables and enjoy good tunes and good company. Attendees can feel free to bring a picnic or purchase something to eat, and wine from Sanctuary Vineyards is available to sample and to purchase.

Candy Wright, a member of The Cotton Gin family, said, “The bands are generally acoustic so the sound is really mellow, and it diffuses across the woods. It’s laid back and just a lot of fun.”

Thyme & Tide Cafe, Cotton Gin, Sanctuary Vineyards

The Wright family’s newest venture is the Thyme and Tide Café, although the cozy light breakfast and lunch spot feels like it was meant to be on the grounds all along. Tucked away among the pines at the northern end of The Cotton Gin, the café welcomes shoppers and wayward travelers with fresh sandwiches, salads, pastries and locally roasted coffee. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, and the café uses produce grown right there on the farm, local seafood and North Carolina cheeses. Best of all, you can pop into Thyme and Tide for a picnic basket or cheese tray to enjoy in the vineyards – perhaps paired with a bottle of Sanctuary Vineyards wine.

Of course, you’ll have to take a walk through the vineyards, and if you just happen to find yourself at the winery afterward … so be it! You’ll discover reds and whites made from European grapes and named after Outer Banks icons with favorites such as the Wild Pony White and The Lightkeeper.

Sanctuary Vineyards was named North Carolina Wine Grower of the Year in 2015. The vineyards currently span 25 acres and are a highly popular wedding destination due to their unique feel – coastal without getting sandy feet. Brides and grooms enjoy the flexibility of having both the vineyards and the winery for their wedding and reception.

In a way, all aspects of the Wright family business feed into each other and have become sustainable. But the vineyards, the store, the winery and the café … none of it would have been possible without the initial farming venture.
The Wrights settled in Currituck County after their ancestor Jacob Francis Wright shipwrecked on the shores of Duck. Today, the farm still has the look and feel of a quaint 1800s farm more than anything modern, perhaps because the Wrights still use many of the same methods as when they first began. And that’s not all that has remained the same. Seven generations of Wrights have worked on the property.

Cotton Gin History

“This experience hasn’t been sanitized,” John said. “At the end of the day, we are still an old family farm in Currituck that is moving forward a decade at a time by adapting. My father and uncle wanted the farming to continue the same way it has for a couple hundred years, which is what prompted the vineyard in the first place. They wanted to continue the family tradition in a way that would be economically viable.”

In the future, we only expect more from the Wright family with the latest talk being that they may add peach and apple orchards to the thriving farm. It’s a place you really have to see to understand – a place that has a feel that can only be described as enchanting.

Visit the Wright Family at the Cotton Gin, Thyme & Tide Cafe & Sanctuary Vineyards located at:
6957 Caratoke Highway, Jarvisburg  •  (252) 491-2387

Thyme & Tide Cafe, Cotton Gin, Sanctuary Vineyards

Thyme and Tide Café:  Receive a voucher for $10 off at the Thyme and Tide Café with any purchase of $100 or more at The Cotton Gin or Sanctuary Vineyards. 

Acoustic Sunsets at Sanctuary Vineyards: Join us for free weekly outdoor concerts in the summertime and early fall. Sip wine and enjoy good tunes and good company!

Cotton Gin Additional Shopping Locations:
Corolla: (252) 453-4446 • TimBuck II Shopping Village
Duck: (252) 261-2387 • 1185 Duck Rd
Nags Head: (252) 449-2387 • The Bypass, MP 14.5

Shop online:


About the Author Lexi Holian
Lexi Holian was born and raised on the Outer Banks and cannot remember a time when she wasn’t writing. She can often be found planning her next trip abroad but will always return to the Outer Banks, her place of greatest inspiration. You can contact Lexi at