Hugh Davies, president of the iconic Schramsberg Vineyards and Davies Vineyards, will be making his way to Daphne’s own Southern Napa. Since 1965, the Schramsberg name has been associated with world-class sparkling wines and this year marks the vineyard’s 50th anniversary.

Along with their sparkling wine, Davies and his team are putting out some equally impressive reds under the Davies Vineyards name. In 2013, Jim and Carrie Cox of Southern Napa in Daphne made a historic purchase of 120 bottles of Davies Vineyard Jamie’s Select cabernet sauvignon for $24,000. These are the only bottles of this wine in existence in the world.

(Photo/ Hugh Davies of Schramsberg Vineyards

(Photo/ Hugh Davies of Schramsberg Vineyards

“When we made this purchase, Hugh said he was coming to Daphne, Alabama, to celebrate with our partners and us,” Jim Cox said. “Now that the wine is ready to be released, he is coming to Southern Napa for a historic night, not only for Daphne but the entire state of Alabama.”

Davies will host a private celebration with the winning bidders and present them with their wine, before hosting a celebration dinner Friday, Dec. 4. This dinner includes six wines exclusive to Southern Napa and will be paired with food from Chef Bill Briand of Fisher’s Restaurant in Orange Beach. Cost is $125 per plate.

For reservations to this event, call 251-375-2800 or email

Cheddar’s closure shocks employees
It was a nightmare for some, but last Monday employees of Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen showed up to work and found a sign on the door that read, “Cheddar’s doors are closing, but we appreciate your support through the years.”

By “years” they must mean three years. For a local restaurant, let alone a corporate behemoth, three years is a short time for any establishment to run its course, but there were no signs, according to customers and employees, that the business was about to give in to the mold. That sounded cheesy.

No matter how you look at it, it’s a tough pill to swallow at any time, but tougher this close to the holidays, as anyone who has ever been laid off mid-November would know. To be notified via email the day of the closing or find out when you arrive at work to locked doors is a slap in the face.

Locally owned businesses have reacted to the news in gentlemanly fashion. Chicken-finger experts Foosackly’s offered a free meal to former Cheddar’s employees with proof of a pay stub, and other restaurants encouraged laid-off workers to send resumes. It has been nice seeing how our food scene has each other’s backs.

Newk’s expanding in greater Mobile
The growing popularity of Newk’s Eatery is taking Mobile by storm. A few issues ago, we spoke of the one coming to Westgate Pavilion on Airport Boulevard near Schillinger Road. It will be opening soon. Another recently opened at McGowin Park Shopping Center. The fourth Newk’s to grace our area (including the first on Azalea Road) will find itself across the bay in Spanish Fort.

These three new restaurants will provide job opportunities for roughly 150 local applicants. Pay attention, former Cheddar’s employees.

Chakli Diggs has soft opening for Sai Sho
The latest from Chakli Diggs is a look to the East. Sai Sho, featuring what has been described as upscale Japanese street fare, had its soft opening last week at 455 Dauphin St., the renovated building which previously housed Alabama Music Box. The five-course meal has Facebook on fire, with offerings such as scallops, sweetbreads and grilled lamb ribs. Be looking for good things to come out of this place.

Hangout responsibly recycles oyster shells from festival
This month began with a bang as the 8th annual Hangout Oyster Cook-Off wowed many Nov. 6-8. With 70 chefs and restaurants on hand shucking and slinging what the festival was all about, it was recorded more than 60,000 oysters were prepared for the event. This year marks the first time a multi-party-organized shell-recycling effort was there to help with the clean-up.  

The Alabama Marine Resources Division, the city of Gulf Shores, Alabama Gulf Seafood, Hangout and NUISANCE Group all worked together to recycle leftover oyster shells to aid in ongoing oyster restoration efforts.

“Oyster shells are a very valuable resource, and they belong back in the water — as opposed to a landfill — in order to grow more oysters,” according to Chris Blankenship, program administrator for Alabama Seafood and Marketing Commission and director of Alabama Marine Resources. “This is a great start of what we hope will be a much larger effort to engage restaurants in Coastal Alabama to implement a year-round shell recycling program.”

To make things easier on the consumers at the Hangout, there were on-site receptacles for oyster shells. Where are they now, you ask? Shells are currently being stored at the Marine Resources Division Artificial Reef Staging Area and will be deployed for oyster restoration projects after six months of seasoning.

Way to recycle, guys.