For the majority of its history, winemaking has been an established industry in North Carolina. For farmers that are looking to start a grape growing operation in North Carolina, there are plenty of resources available. Here are some tips to help you get started as a grape grower in North Carolina.
Choosing Land for a Vineyard
North Carolina growing regions are subject to a variety of conditions including extreme heat, rapidly temperature changes, spring frosts, humid and hot growing seasons, all of which could have a considerable impact on crop yield. As a result, land selection must be done carefully based on your requirements for profitability. Becoming a successful winegrape grower in NC means that you must not only select the right varieties of grapes that will grow well in your area, there must also be an established commercial market that you can tap into to ensure the profitability of your operations.
What Varieties of Grapes Are Grown in North Carolina?
Chardonnay grapes are the top grape variety that is currently grown in North Carolina. Starting in the 1980s, there was a major shift towards growing vinifera, or European style bunch grapes, in North Carolina. While this type of grape is popular, several grape species are grown in North Carolina thanks to the varied climates. North Carolina features four Viticultural Zones. The best way to evaluate whether a variety of grapes will do well in a specific zone is to have a look at the maps available on the website of the North Carolina Wine and Grape Council, Inc.
Requirements for Establishing a Winery in North Carolina
If your vineyard will also include a winery, it must be registered with the North Carolina wine office. Registering can also help to boost your business by making it eligible for inclusion in all marketing materials that are distributed by the North Carolina tourism websites. Wineries are also subject to a Wine Excise tax in North Carolina which is payable to the N.C. Department of Revenue.
Resources for Grape Growers
North Carolina has several established organizations that are designed to aid farmers in learning about the winemaking business. These organizations include NC Winegrowers Association, NC Muscadine Grape Association, and Goodness Grows in NC program.
North Carolina Winegrape Grower’s Guide
This guide is published by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension and has been created in order to assist North Carolina growers with producing high quality grapes for winemaking. The North Carolina Winegrape Grower’s Guide covers all of the details of grape growing including how to select a site for a vineyard and establishing and operating a commercial vineyard in North Carolina. The guide even covers issues such as spring frost control in order to assist farmers with learning about conditions that are unique to the North Carolina growing region.