Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New center to support and promote N.C. wine

According to a press release, the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology opened its doors at Surry Community College on Friday, November 5th. The Center was hailed by Governor Beverly Perdue as the facility that will provide the "backbone" for the state's growing wine industry.

The $5 million facility is the centerpiece of SCC's Viticulture & Enology program, which for the past decade has prepared students for careers as winemakers and vineyard managers. The 16,000-square-foot building includes a bonded commercial winery, a microbiology lab, a research library, classrooms, and a 3,800-square-foot assembly hall designed to host industry events.

In her keynote address for the grand opening, Perdue praised the positive impact the Center will have on the state's economy. Perdue noted that North Carolina is 7th in the nation in wine production, directly accounting for 5,700 jobs and an economic impact of almost $1 billion. There are more than 90 wineries and 400 vineyards across the state.

"This is an industry that is waking up in North Carolina. I have every reason to believe that North Carolina will become a national and international leader in wine because of the investment that you're making here, and the fact that this community college now has the infrastructure to train the workforce for the 21st century," Perdue said. "Today is a big day for North Carolina. Today is a day that will be written about in history books."

The center is named after the Shelton-Badgett family, which founded Shelton Vineyards in 1999 and played an integral role in starting SCC's Viticulture & Enology program that same year. Shelton Vineyards has grown to become one of the largest producers of wine on the east coast, spurring the development of many more wineries in the area. Both Shelton Vineyards and SCC are in the Yadkin Valley, North Carolina's first federally designated winemaking region. Many of the area's grapes are grown on former tobacco farms.

"I think this is an example of what we can do in Surry County if we all work together to create new ideas, new ventures and new ways to make money," Ed Shelton said at the grand opening. "The key is to make a profit and create jobs, and as long as we can do that, we have a great future here."

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