RALEIGH – September is N.C. Wine and Grape Month, and wineries and vineyards across the state are planning wine tastings, grape stomps and other special events to celebrate the industry.
“There’s a lot to celebrate,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The wine and grape industry contributes more than $1.7 billion to the state’s economy and creates jobs for nearly 8,000 people.”
North Carolina is home to 159 wineries, from recent newcomers such as Jones vonDrehle Vineyards and Winery in Thurmond to established brands such as Biltmore Winery in Asheville. The majority of the wineries are considered small, producing less than 5,000 nine-liter cases annually. About 20 percent of all N.C. wine is sold directly to consumers.
“We’ve all heard of craft beer, but a lot of people don’t know that North Carolina is home to hundreds of craft wines that are produced in small batches and sold directly to consumers at wineries,” said Whit Winslow, executive director of the N.C. Wine and Grape Council.
Winslow said visiting local wineries is a great way to celebrate N.C. Wine and Grape Month and learn more about the industry. North Carolina is home to four distinct American Viticultural Areas: Haw River, located in the Piedmont; Swan Creek and Yadkin Valley, both located in the foothills; and Upper Hiwassee, which stretches through Western North Carolina and Northern Georgia. Several tour groups offer packages to explore these regions. Visitors also can plan their own trip using information available at www.ncwine.org.
Following are a few of the special events planned at local wineries and vineyards across the state during September:
— Sept. 4-6 – Taste of the New South Food and Wine Festival in Pinehurst
— Sept. 5 – Paddle & Patio Pizza Party at Grove Winery in Gibsonville
— Sept. 12 – Fall Harvest and Grape Stomp at Cypress Bend Vineyards in Wagram
— Sept. 17 – High Country Cheese and Wine Trolley Tour in Banner Elk
— Sept. 18 – Grape Day at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh
— Sept. 19 – Purple Feet Festival at Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle Beach
— Sept. 20 – N.C. Grape Stomp Festival at Gregory Vineyards in Angier
— Sept. 25 – N.C. Muscadine Harvest Festival in Kenansville
A complete schedule of Wine and Grape Month events and more information about the state’s wine and grape industry are available at www.ncwine.org.