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NC Gets New Federally Approved Wine District

North Carolina’s wine industry recently got a PR boost with a federally-designated, AVA wine district. AVA stands for American Viticultural Area and the new wine region is in the Appalachian High Country AVA.  

North Carolina gets new federally-designated wine district

This mountainous wine region encompasses 2,400 acres and is home to ten vineyards. Eight are in North Carolina and two are in Tennessee and Virginia.

“The federal government looks for a proven track record for quality grape growing so you have to have a sustained industry in place in the region before you can achieve the designation,” said Whit Winslow is executive director of the North Carolina Wine and Grape Council.

Winslow says the region is conducive to grape growing because it has all the things grapes love—more than half of the area is above 3,000 feet, the temperatures are cooler, the soil is rockier and it has great inclines.

“The slopes are on average about 30 degree grade and that makes for unique growing conditions because of the drainage that will take place and the change in elevation the slopes will cause within the same vineyard,” Winslow said.

The vineyards in the Appalachian AVA have been around for 10 years or less. Winslow characterizes North Carolina’s wine industry overall as fairly young but still, it’s a nearly $2 billion business. He predicts that the AVA designation, a several year process, will boost wine-making significantly in the new district.

“Right now there are four vineyards in planning just since the process of planning this AVA began. That alone goes to the testament of what this region is capable of,” he said.

There are now five AVA wine districts in the state. It helps with branding because vineyard owners get to put their designated region’s name on bottle labels, but only if 85 percent of the grapes used in the wine come from that specific area. 

Map of Appalachian High Country AVA
NC Wine and Grape Council /
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Map of Appalachian High Country AVA

Copyright 2016 WFAE

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.
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