Whiteville native Alex Munroe, owner of Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery, was named Business Person of the Year during the 21st annual Business Visions Award Banquet at UNC Pembroke.
Each year, the Office for Regional Initiatives holds an awards program to recognize and promote success in the business community by recognizing students, entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Munroe opened Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery, spread over 13 acres in the Elizabethtown Industrial Park, in 2016. It offers both estate wines and other wines as well as a restaurant called The Cork Room. He also owns Cape Fear Systems, which supplies plastics for construction products.
He started his first company when he was 22. He owns 15 licensed patents for a variety of products, including Alertmat, a detectable warning mat designed to assist visually impaired people cross the street.
“In the dictionary beside the word entrepreneur there is a picture of Alex Munroe,” said Leon Martin, a UNCP Board of Visitors member.
“Alex is a unique individual. He started a new business in Bladen County that has been very successful and we are very proud of him.”
Munroe employs 40 people at his businesses in Elizabethtown.
“This is a great honor. I appreciate everyone here at UNCP, including Dr. [Barry] O’Brien and Chancellor Robin Cummings. It’s great that you guys have the Thomas Center for Entrepreneurship and the Business Incubator. It’s a great asset to the community,” Munroe said.
“I want to thank UNCP for this very nice recognition.”
Cape Fear Distillery
One of Munroe’s latest ventures is Cape Fear Distillery, which is located at Cape Fear Vineyard. The company recently sold the first legal bottle of alcohol that was distilled in the area. Cape Fear Distiller’s “Maritime Gin” is available for purchase at the distillery and will be available in ABC stores soon.
According to a new law, a state distiller can sell five bottles of its distilled spirits per person per year at the distillery site, provided that the purchaser takes a distillery tour. Tours at Cape Fear Distillery are $5 and include a free gin tasting.
“It literally took us six months to develop the recipe for our Maritime Gin,” Munroe said. “The retail space for distilled spirits is very competitive, so we took a methodical approach to the gin’s development and production. We literally hand craft each bottle yet we’re able to keep the retail price at $24.95, which is difficult in small batch production. The effort has been worth it, though, because we now have a terrific gin available at a great price.”
Rick Neisler of Lake Waccamaw is the head distiller.
“We wanted our first product to be special and conducive to the active lifestyle of southeastern North Carolina, so we developed a smooth, refreshing gin that’s great to sip beside the ocean or lake or enjoy in a cocktail on a boat,” Neisler said.