Today’s Topic: North Carolina’s wine industry, UNCG collaborate on strategic plan

by | Aug 5, 2014

Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

The NCDA&CS, the N.C. Wine and Grape Council and the Bryan School of Business and Economics at UNC-Greensboro have gotten together to develop a road map for the industry’s growth. The resulting plan covers a variety of topics, such as quality assurance, marketing, research, tourism and the regulatory environment.

The plan was put together with input from stakeholders, including people from the industry and government, as well as business leaders and academics.

North Carolina’s wine and grape industry has seen explosive growth over the past decade. The state has 400 commercial grape growers and 125 wineries. The industry employs more than 7,600 people and has an economic impact of $1.3 billion.

The strategic plan is a chance for the wine and grape industry to take a look at where it is, what its key concerns are, and how it wants to develop in the next five years.

Certain initiatives, such as a push to enhance the state’s reputation as a producer of high-quality wines and grapes and increase market share, are being given high priority. Two studies already are under way. One is focused on the use of highway markers to draw tourists to wineries and vineyards. The second study seeks to classify the various types of wineries in the state by looking at factors such as source of grapes, tasting-room size and marketing.

North Carolina is ranked 10th nationally in wine and grape production, but one of the state’s key strengths is the diversity in grape and wine products. North Carolina’s fertile soil makes it possible to grow both native muscadine grapes and European-style vinifera grapes.

In addition, wine tourism offers a unique activity to the state’s existing tourism mix. This creates additional business for local hotels, restaurants and tour companies. Whit Winslow, the department’s wine marketing specialist, says the winery is one of the best places to enjoy North Carolina wine. “We want to make it easier for consumers to find wineries when they are traveling throughout North Carolina,” he says.

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss North Carolina’s wine industry and the strategic plan.

[Audio:|titles=Today’s Topic for Aug. 5]

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