Entrepreneurs of North Carolina History Exhibit


Soda | Wine | Brewers and Breweries


1898Caleb Davis Bradham | Pepsi-Cola

Caleb Davis Bradham invented Pepsi-Cola in New Bern, NC by experimenting with many juices, spices and syrups, hoping "Brad's Drink" would aid digestion. As the drink gained popularity, he changed its name to Pepsi-Cola and incorporate Pepsi-Cola Company in 1902.

Cheerwine1917Louis Peeler | Cheerwine

Louis Peeler, native of Rowan County, NC, developed Cheerwine soda to create a beverage that would "have a unique taste, but require significantly less sugar" due to a sugar shortage.


Weller1835Sidney Weller | Medoc Vineyard

Sidney Weller began his experiments with new planting methods in 1829 on 300 acres in Hollister, Halifax County. By 1840, Medoc Vineyard was North Carolina's largest vineyard and by 1850 had over 200 types of grapes.

1972David & Dan Fussell | Dupline Winery

Duplin WineryMuscadine grape farmers David and Dan Fussell founded Duplin Wine Cellars, Inc. to try to save their farm in Rose Hill, NC, after the price of grapes plunged. The neighbors called the winery a "factory of liquid sin."

1999Charles & Ed Shelton | Shelton Vineyards

Shelton VineyardsCharles and Ed Shelton established the Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, NC, on a dairy farm after running several other successful businesses.

They helped establish the viticulture program at Surry Community College in 1999.




Brews and Breweries

1774Single Brothers’ Brewery and Distillery, Winston-Salem

singleSettlers in the Salem (present day Winston-Salem) area were members of the Moravian church, a Protestant faith originating in what is now the Czech Republic and Germany.  One group in the church, the unmarried men, lived together in the choir system, where people of similar age, gender, and marital status worshippedtogether.  This group of brethren, as they were called, lived in atimber-framed dwelling, with exposed brickand a clay tiled roof, and was craftsmen and apprentices whooperated a plantation, a tannery, a slaughterhouse, as well as a brewery, Single Brothers’ Brewery & Distillery, which came to be North Carolina’s first in 1774 and operated in what is now Old Salem until 1813.  There was not another brewing business in the western end of the Tar Heel State for another 220 years. The Old Salem Single Brothers’ Brewery and Still House was located off Academy Street and Marshall Street in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County.

2007Bill Sherrill and Red Oak Brewery, Whitsett

Red Oak BreweryThe sign hanging at the brewery reads “An Honest Brew Makes Its Own Friends.’’   As most North Carolinian’s know, Red Oak Brewery likes to keep its friends within the Tar Heel borders.  Red Oak Breweryproduces only unfiltered, unpasteurized Bavarian Style lagers and is only available in North Carolina.  It takes eight hours of brewing and four to eight weeks of fermentation to created three lagers you find at beer taps, but only one comes in a bottle: Red Oak, its most popular brand.

Bill Sherrill opened his first brewpub, The Red Oak Brewpub, in Greensboro in 1991 after developing an interest in German Lagers while on a trip to Switzerland. As the beer began catching on and the business expanded, he opened, in 2007, the modern computerized brewery that can be seen from I-40 and Highway 85 between Greensboro and Burlington. The Red Oak Brewery is capable of producing 60,000 barrels, of one of North Carolina’s best kept secrets, a year.

Sherrill’s Red Oak Beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized and without preservatives, following the guidelines according to the 1516 Bavarian Purity Law known as Reinheitsgebot, where originally, the only ingredients allowed in the production of the beer were water, barley and hops.  It is because of the lack of pasteurization that Bill Sherrill has been in lobbying for legislation to allow Red Oak Brewery to remain its own distributor up to a 60,000 barrel limit, although current legislation has 25,000 as the limit. He believes that if Red Oak can remain control over delivery of his lagers, he will be able to ensure quality of taste and reduce the chance of spoilage.

1986Uli Bennewitz and Weeping Radish Bavarian Restaurant & Brewery

Weeping RadishUli Bennewitz began his career as a micro brewer in the 1980s as he was persuaded into opening a craft brewery by his brother.  New to the United States from Germany, Bennewitz had planned to go in to agri-business, as he was to manage a 20,000 acre corn and bean farm near Manteo. But Bennewitz was hooked, and soon turned the beer making hobby in to a full-time passion as he began Weeping Radish, which is now North Carolina’s oldest microbrewery. He opened the Weeping Radish Bavarian Restaurant in 1986, in Grandy, NC, near the Virginia border and the Outer Banks.

According to their website, “Weeping Radish brews their beer according to the Reinheitsgebot Purity Law of 1516, a regulation made by Duke Wilhelm IV of Bavaria stating beer could only be made using malt, hops and water to maintain quality. Later amended to include yeast, Bennewitz and his team include the fourth ingredient in their recipe.”  Success meant opening a new microbrewery in Durham as the production of the beer increased from a 5-barrel system to a 15-barrel system and yearly production between the two facilities is 3,000 barrels a year, most of which is consumed at the restaurant.