Behind the Doc

'Buy local' trend should extend to NC wine

Posted June 25, 2012
Updated June 29, 2012

The growth of our state’s wine industry is a great economic success story, particularly in the Yadkin Valley area where it’s helping fill the void left after the decline of textiles and tobacco. No one can say for sure whether our state will ever rival California in the wine marketplace, but the road to that pinnacle may start at home.

Steve Shepard, the president of the NC Winegrower’s Association, says North Carolinians consume about eight million cases of wine a year, but only about seven percent of that is North Carolina wine. There’s a growing trend with food to buy local. Shepard would like to see that trend extend to wine. He says the industry could grow significantly if more North Carolinians would drink North Carolina wine.

North Carolina’s small, family-owned wineries can’t compete with a lot of the wine from California, Australia and South America that sells for less than ten dollars a bottle. They find it hard to squeeze onto supermarket shelves and restaurant menus. Sure, they tend to be more expensive, but Shepard says those few extra dollars help create jobs and support our economy here at home.

You have to buy most North Carolina wine directly from the wineries, but visiting those wineries to sample different wines is helping support our economy too. Wine tourism is growing and leading to the creation of spin-off businesses like hotels, restaurants and tour companies.

When you do tastings at our state’s wineries quite often the person pouring the wine is the winemaker or winery owner. They are a diverse group of people with interesting backgrounds and fascinating stories to tell. Meeting those people, tasting their wines, seeing where those wines are made and the vineyards where the grapes are grown helps you develop an affinity for those wines you just can’t get at the supermarket or wine store.

When you buy wine at a North Carolina winery, you’re not just buying a bottle of wine; you’re buying a memory.

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  • shank1094 Jun 27, 4:02 p.m.

    You know I totally agree with the need for folks to try and drink NC wines. I ask when I go into the restaurants for NC wine but I get the song and dance about it being "pricey". Try paying $4.50 for local "craft brew" when a much better national product is available for $3.50. I like the French and Italian varietals and although a young vintage, many are comparable to small California Wineries. Chambourcin, a east coast hybrid is a nice change from many other "imported" out-of-state wines. And the folks that say that wine-making is new in NC? NC was the largest wine producer prior to prohibition. The grape growers had to make a living during this time and switched to tobacco. Now their descendants are switching back. My favorite trips are those to the small wineries that grow their own grapes and don't use large distributors to distribute their wines. Thanks Clay for your story on NC Wines!

  • caniacgirl Jun 26, 5:27 p.m.

    23tony, don't give up, keep trying NC wines! NC has such a variety of wines! You may have tried muscadine or scuppernong wines, both made with a native NC grape. Not everyone likes those, but depending on your taste, you can go from a super dry wine to a nice fruity sweet wine here in NC. NC has something for everyones taste! My favorite winery is Weathervane Winery in Lexington. Check them out! Happy tasting everyone! :-)

  • 23tony Jun 26, 1:59 p.m.

    I would love to buy local, but I've tasted a number of NC wines and so far have not been satisfied with the quality.

  • cwood3 Jun 26, 12:54 p.m.

    AMEN-BUY LOCAL-Support NC wine producers-our neighbors!!
    I have fallen in love with Duplin's Black River Red. Yum!

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Documentary producer and writer Clay Johnson provides some behind-the-scenes insight into the production of WRAL documentaries.