Tidewater Gold Rice
Tidewater Grain Company | Oriental, NC | Founded in 2018
FARMERS | Tommy Wheeler & Al Spruill
Carolina Gold rice was brought to the United States from Madagascar on a ship that traded its load of rice in exchange for ship repairs in Charleston, South Carolina in 1685. It flourished for over two centuries in the fertile soil of the southeastern coastal plain. In 1900, Carolina Gold rice was one of the top exports in the Carolinas. But then along came commodity agriculture, economic woes in the South, and devastating hurricanes. By 1911, the rice industry had all but collapsed in North Carolina. That is, until Tommy Wheeler and Al Spruill — two duck hunters with a knack for history — decided to bring this rice variety back from the brink and start planting it near Oriental, NC.
Tommy calls Carolina Gold rice the “granddaddy” of American rice. It’s resilient, adapts quickly to its environment, and was sought after by people all over the world. (The BBC even called it “the world’s greatest rice.”) Its nutty, nuanced flavor with a hint of sweetness appeals to brewers and restaurateurs alike. It’s history you can taste.
“It’s got a completely unique flavor because it hasn’t been modified and watered down and enriched. It’s the original way it was supposed to be. And to have a story about a rice that was regionally significant? It’s very powerful. ”
—Tommy Wheeler, Tidewater Grain Co.