HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) — A new study showed North Carolina wine and grapes keep getting more popular.
According to the state's Wine and Grape Growers Council, that industry had a $2 billion economic impact in 2016 — about a 15 percent increase from the last study in 2014.
"We really see that North Carolina is growing some great wines and some great fruit,” Alan Ward, owner of Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, said.
"Each year, we've averaged probably around 20 to 25 percent growth," Ward said.
It is a growing trend across the state, including in the mountains.
"We've been very fortunate in the growth here in Henderson County," Ward said.
There is also a multimillion-dollar impact on tourism.
"We see this as sustainable. We also see it as a multiplier effect of probably about 6 or 7, meaning, when people come here, the majority of them are from the Upstate, Charlotte and from the region, not just local folks. We have a lot of local folks,” Ward said. “But, probably 65 percent are from outside this area. So, those folks come up, spend the night, stay at restaurants, stay at hotels and spend money here in this area."
The state's Wine and Grape Growers Council said more wine is being produced and sold with many vineyard owners relying on tasting rooms.
"What we do here is we really take the client or the customers seriously. We want them to enjoy their experience. We want them to learn about wine — not be afraid of wine," Ward said.
Ward added that he is certainly not afraid for the future of this industry.
"Western North Carolina has more geological diversity than anywhere in the world and the second oldest mountain range in the world. So, we're able to really compete well with other people in the nation and around the world," Ward said.