Tapping Into Booming NC Craft Beer, Wine Industry - WSPA.com

Tapping Into Booming NC Craft Beer, Wine Industry

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WNC hasn't yet tapped its full potential when it comes to producing some of your favorite drinks. WNC hasn't yet tapped its full potential when it comes to producing some of your favorite drinks.
HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. -

Whether you are a 'beer lover' or 'wine enthusiast,' there is no shortage of businesses making their own special drinks.

"I think we are sort of like where California was in the 1970s," says Pierre Dalmas with Burntshirt Vineyards. "People are starting to realize that we can actually grow some serious wine grapes and we can produce some serious wines."

Hidden between apple orchards, Burntshirt Vineyards in Hendersonville is currently producing 12 different varieties of grapes and seven different types of wines.

Dalmas says wineries are quietly gaining more and more ground.

"We have seen pretty rapid growth in that area," said Executive Director Mark Williams of Henderson County Agribusiness.

In recent years, the number of wineries statewide has grown five-fold.

The industry also generates nearly $1.3 billion annually for the local economy and supports 7,600 jobs.

Craft breweries are also booming. In 2012, the sate ranked No. 10 in the U.S. with 70 breweries and big names, such as Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Oskar Blues relocated to western North Carolina.

"It really prompted a new service industry that needed training," said Chris English, dean of Applied Technology at Blue Ridge Community College.

BRCC launched its first-ever degree program in Brewing, Distillation and Fermentation this fall.

English says students will learn the fundamentals and science of brewing with hands-on manufacturing skills.

"For the younger generation coming in, I think this is a great opportunity for them."

The state Alcohol Beverage Control Commission granted permission to an additional 26 breweries so far in 2013.

Good news for those in need of a future job and for those who like to indulge.

If you are looking to experience one of the area's wineries -- Burntshirt Vineyards is hosting a grape stomp and harvest party Sept. 14. The event is from 4-7 p.m. at 2965 Sugarloaf Road in Hendersonville.

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