Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Mike Davis to discuss “Today’s Topic.”
September is recognized in North Carolina as Wine and Grape month, which coincides with the traditional time of grape harvest.
Many wineries are holding special events to celebrate the harvest including a grape stomp, muscadine festival, a Lost Colony Wine and Culinary Festival and other tasting events. You can find out more about these online at NCwine.org .
There are around 200 wineries in the state and North Carolina is home to six American Viticultural Areas – one of which was just approved in July.
AVA’s are recognized wine-growing regions that typically produce wine with distinct characteristics.
Our six AVAs are Yadkin Valley established in 2002, Swan Creek established in 2008, Haw River Valley established in 2009, Upper Hiawassee Highlands established 2014, Appalachian High Country established 2016, and the newest — Crest of the Blue Ridge Henderson County.
The industry is currently in the process of conducting a new economic impact study, but the last one showed an economic impact of nearly $2 billion.
Grape production falls into two categories – muscadine and French-style vinifera grapes (pronounced Va-nif-ah-ra).
North Carolina’s early winemaking success owed its beginnings to the muscadine or scuppernong grape. It was the first cultivated grape in the United States.
The Mothervine in Manteo, a nearly 500-year old scuppernong vine, is the oldest known cultivated grapevine in the country.
Another interesting note is that 25 wineries operated in North Carolina at the turn of the century. Prior to Prohibition, North Carolina was one of the most productive wine states in the U.S.
Medoc Vineyard in Halifax County was the first commercial winery established in North Carolina.
So in many ways, the resurgence of the wine industry in the state is a return to our roots.
A total of 2,300 acres of grapes are harvested annually. In 2017, the yield was over 7,200 tons of grapes.
Not all grapes are made into wine. Some grapes are sold fresh at markets or stores or through pick-your own operations.
Be sure to pick up some fresh grapes or celebrate Wine and Grape Month with a North Carolina wine.