RALEIGH, NC — Wine lovers may raise a glass to a new report that shows the North Carolina wine and grape industry contributes $1.71 billion to the state’s economy.
“It is encouraging to see continued growth in the wine and grape industry, not only for our wineries, but also for our grape growers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “More than 77-percent of all wine produced in North Carolina comes from North Carolina grapes.”
The study was commissioned by the N.C. Wine and Grape Council and conducted by Frank, Rimerman + Co. using data from 2013. The firm also conducted the council’s 2009 economic impact study.
The economic impact of the industry grew 33.6 percent from 2009 to 2013.
Tourism accounted for the most significant increase in the study. Between 2009 and 2013, tourism expenditures increased 65 percent, to $257 million. The number of tourists visiting N.C. wineries increased by nearly a half-million people from 2009 to 2013.
“Many of our wineries are opening up their vineyards to wine-related events, private parties, weddings and other special occasions to attract more visitors and diversify their income,” said Whit Winslow, executive director of the Wine and Grape Council. “The new numbers reflect an increase in consumer demand for experiences beyond the tasting room.”
According to the report, North Carolina is home to 130 wineries and 525 commercial grape growers. Winslow said that because of substantial growth over the past two years, North Carolina now has 159 wineries.
There will be plenty of opportunities to visit local wineries in September as the state celebrates North Carolina Wine and Grape Month. The harvest season will be under way, and visitors can participate in grape stomps, wine festivals and other events at many of the state’s wineries. In addition, the N.C. Wine and Grape Council will sponsor Grape Day at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh on Sept. 18. The council also will hold the annual N.C. State Fair Wine Competition for amateur and commercial wine producers. Judging will take place Sept. 2 and 3 in Raleigh.
More information on these and other events is available at www.ncwine.org.
Highlights from the report:
• $1.71 billion – Economic impact of the N.C. wine and grape industry
• $257 million – Amount of wine-related tourism expenditures in 2013
• 1,711,000 – Number of wine-related tourists in 2013
• 569,000 – Number of cases of wine produced in the state
• 7,709 –  Number of full-time-equivalent jobs related to the industry
• 2,300 – Number of grape-bearing acres in the state
• 525 – Number of commercial grape growers in the state
• 130 – Number of wineries in 2013. (The number is 159 as of Aug. 1.)