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Henderson County achieves status as an American Viticultural Area

Glasses of wine with grapes

By Dasha Morgan

Hendersonville – The popular mountain getaway of Hendersonville, North Carolina — long known for its apple orchards, bear sculptures, driving destination trails and charming downtown — has emerged as a hot spot for wine enthusiasts. The surrounding Blue Ridge Mountain countryside provides a peaceful oasis to sip quality wines, ciders, and beers while taking in long-range views of the splendid mountains.

Hendersonville’s wine region recently received federal designation as the Crest of the Blue Ridge American Viticultural Area, or AVA. Only regions with distinctive soil, climate and elevation — such as Napa Valley and Sonoma — earn this designation. Warm days and cool nights during the growing season, along with the right soil and water quality, produce high-quality grapes. Conditions in this plateau of the Blue Ridge near Asheville are ideal for several varietals of European vinifera and French-American grapes. The county’s rolling vineyards produce wines from such grapes as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, petit verdot, riesling and vidal blanc.

Sweeter wines from native muscadine and scuppernong grapes are also found here, as well as an occasional fruit wine made from apples, blueberries or peaches.

Dr. Joe Forrest, managing director of resource geoservices, played a vital role in achieving the acclaimed status as American Viticultural area for Henderson County. This label legitimizes the area as a wine-producing area, and significantly improves the marketing efforts and business from agritourism. The prestigious award which took years and much time and effort recognize the area as a producer of fine wine. The many awards since 2008 achieved by St. Paul Mountain Vineyards & Burntshirt Vineyards were seen as an impetus to seek this status and recognition.

The petition was filed in December 2016 with the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau by hand deliver to the US Treasury Department in District of Columbia. Jay 19, 2019 the final step accomplished with the posting of our new Ava in the federal registry. According to the TTB Website, “An American Viticultural Area, or AVA, is a specific type of appellation of origin used on wine labels. An AVA is a delimited grape-growing region with specific geographic or climatic features that distinguish it from the surrounding regions and affect how grapes are grown. Using an AVA designation on a wine label allows vintners to describe more accurately the origin of their wines to consumers and helps consumers identify wines they may purchase.”

The “Crest of the Blue Ridge” mark is used to refer only to the appellation of origin of wines, hard ciders, spirits, or beer that are made from grapes or apples or hops that are grown in the specific “Crest of the Blue Ridge” AVA region. The “Crest of the Blue Ridge” AVA region is located in the Western half of Henderson County, North Carolina. (Please note: NOT all of Henderson County.) This region is specifically defined in the “Crest of the Blue Ridge-Henderson County” petition for the establishment of an American Viticultural Area, dated December 2016 and refers to geophysical properties.

To use the “Crest of the Blue Ridge” mark, an applicant must certify that the wine, hard cider, spirits, or beer in their application is made solely from grapes or apples or hops that were produced in the “Crest of the Blue Ridge AVA region.” The Henderson County Tourism Development Authority may grant to certified wineries, cideries, distilleries, and breweries that are in good standing a license to use the mark, the “Crest of the Blue Ridge”, for the purposes set forth in section 2 of the certificate Mark and certification standards. There are other specified requirements to allow the use of this licensed mark. It may not be used as the name or brand of the winery, cider, distillery or brewery. Having achieved this status certainly improves any marketing efforts and business from agritourism and puts Henderson County on the map as fine wine producers.

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