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Conference to Address Quality, Marketability of N.C. Wine

BOONE – Winery owners, wine makers, sellers and others interested in the state’s wine industry and its role in tourism and economic development will participate in a one-day N.C. Wine Conference July 11 at Appalachian State University. The event runs from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center.

Registration is $40, which includes a continental breakfast, breaks and lunch. Call Grant Holder at (828) 262-2757 or e-mail for more information. Information and registration also is available online at

Sessions will focus on goal setting, the N.C. wine and tourism connection, and improving the marketability of N.C. wines.

The keynote speaker will be David Sloane with WineAmerica, the National Association of American Wineries. Sloane will talk about the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding wine sales to out-of-state customers and its potential impact on the industry.

Other participants are Dale Carroll from Advantage West, Wade Nichols and Lynn Minges with the N.C. Department of Commerce, George Denka from Shelton Vineyards, Jerry Douglas with Biltmore Winery, Lenne Hobson with RagApple Lassie Vineyards, Norm Oches with the N.C. Winegrower’s Association and Dr. Frank Sells and Dr. Bob McRitchie from Surry Community College.

” One of the things that is driving the growth of the wine industry in North Carolina is tourism,” Holder said. “I want tourism representatives to talk with the winery owners about what they are doing to capitalize on this phenomenon of winemaking in North Carolina,” he said.

Holder, a professor of chemistry at Appalachian, is working to develop a laboratory on campus dedicated to serving the state’s winemakers as they monitor the properties of their wines, as well as for product research and development. Currently, many of the state’s winemakers send their product to California for testing.

Participants also will hear about marketing wine over the Internet and ways to improve the perception of N.C. wines.

“Traditionally, wine quality is associated with geographic area, often more so than an individual maker or variety. There are many strategies employed by other producing venues to promote the perception of quality critical in convincing buyers they should expect a pleasurable experience from the purchase of a N.C. wine,” Holder said.With 45 wineries in 28 counties, North Carolina ranks 10th in the nation in grape production and 12th in wine production, according to the N.C. Grape Council. It’s estimated that the state’s vineyards and wineries have created 855 jobs and have an economic impact of $79 million.

“The energy and creativity of the winemaking community has increased their industry to the size and potential that demands it be taken seriously,” Holder said. “It’s to the point now that North Carolina has a terrific resource, so we’d like to offer Appalachian as a place to gather all the people in whose best interest it is to see the industry continue to prosper.”