Jan. 8, 2013

News Herald Article

In late December 2012 the Morganton News Herald published a fine article written by reporter Mary Elizabeth Robertson that focused on the growth of the local wine industry and its positive impact on tourism. We are proud to have been included in that article. Click HERE to read the article or read below.

MORGANTON, NC – Burke County saw record numbers of tourists this year at the Burke County Visitor’s Center.

From June to August, the number of tourists to the center grew 265 percent since 2011. June alone set an all-time record of 943 visits.

Ed Phillips, the director of Burke County Tourism Development Authority, said the increase was a result of many factors in the county.

“I think overall, people in our market area, the Southeast ... they’ve seen Morganton out there, and they are more familiar with it,” he said.

A new draw to the area includes seven wineries in Burke County.

“There are seven, so they all have a different appeal to different people,” Phillips said. “We have a tour operator out of Charlotte and Hendersonville that are going to start Catawba Valley Wine Tours here in the spring.”

The wineries have popped up over the past few years, most recently with Carolina Mist located in the old freight station in downtown Morganton.

Additionally, Silver Fork Winery, currently a vineyard, will be opening a tasting room April 6.

“It’s very exciting to bring more people,” Jennifer Foulides, co-owner of Silver Fork Winery said.

Foulides said between the area wineries, there is a community feel.

Betty Fowler agrees.

“We support each other,” Fowler said.

Fowler has typed directions to other area wineries for visitors who stop in.

“People aren’t going to visit one winery, but if you have two or three together, people will come,” she said.

Fowler sees the future of the wine-business growing throughout Western North Carolina.

“Western North Carolina has always been a big agricultural area, where people grow grapes but have no interest in making wine,” she said.

Fowler cited this as why so many grapes from area wineries are local.

“Yadkin Valley had gotten so much attention, no one realized how many are in Western North Carolina,” she said.

Phillips credits the successful wine industry in Burke County to the natural features of the area, a focus of the 2013 tourism campaign.

“We have a great climate here,” he said. “If you have a south-facing slope in Burke County, you can grow some really good grapes here,” he said.

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