Wednesday, June 15, 2016 Agriculture Spotlight: NC Wine and Grape Industry

It’s been more than 100 years since our last boom in the wine industry, when North Carolina led the nation in wine production until Prohibition in the 1920s. In fact, North Carolina is home to the first cultivated wine grape in the US – the scuppernong. Luckily for wine drinkers, grape growers and wineries, the industry has rebounded in a big way. In the past 15 years, North Carolina’s Wine and Grape Industry has flourished as large and small investments in grape growing and wine production are increasing and winery tourism has taken off. This week, we will spotlight the growing economic impact of the Wine and Grape Industry.

winery graphic

The numbers highlighted in the graphic are derived from a study commissioned by the NC Wine and Grape Council within the Department of Agriculture and conducted by Frank, Rimerman + Co. using data from 2013.

The study found North Carolina is home to 130 wineries and 525 commercial grape growers, but substantial growth over the past two years has bumped up the number of wineries to 159 according to Whit Winslow, Executive Director of the NC Wine and Grape Council.

Winslow further explained how wineries are thinking outside the box to grow the industry. “Many of our wineries are opening up their vineyards to wine-related events, private parties, weddings and other special occasions to attract more visitors and diversify their income.” Winslow added, “The new numbers reflect an increase in consumer demand for experiences beyond the tasting room.”

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said in a statement, “It is encouraging to see continued growth in the wine and grape industry, not only for our wineries, but also for our grape growers.”