Plentiful grape vines supply a source for regional wines at Parker Binnes Vineyard.
Plentiful grape vines supply a source for regional wines at Parker Binnes Vineyard. (photo by Kirk Gollwitzer)

Archived Story

WNC Mountain Wine Trail plans to provide a boost to local economy

Published 6:19pm Friday, January 24, 2014

Bob and Karen Binns of Parker-Binns Vineyards have established the Western North Carolina’s Mountain Wine Trail.  Not to be confused with a commercial wine touring business, a wine trail is simply a designation which can be linked to more than 260 other wine trails nationwide.  Binns believes that an established WNC Mountain Wine Trail within the foothills of Polk County would benefit the local economy in a big way.
Binns said that a nationally recognized wine trail would place the many vineyards in Polk County on the map and turn the handful of active wineries into national destination points.  Binns said that since the world is becoming more connected through social media, people are more apt to find the small vineyards in Polk County and come for a visit.
“They would stay overnight which would give way to more hotels and B&B’s.  There would be more restaurants, cafés and gift shops, but most importantly there would be more jobs,” said Binns.  Binns said that he started the wine trail concept during the summer of 2013 through the distribution of thousands of printed flyers and is already reaping the benefits.
Binns said that he’s seen the success of wine trails firsthand in Virginia, New York, California and Europe.
“I’ve seen vineyards on wine trails in Europe purposely explore established wine trails in other countries and the results have been spectacular,” said Binns.
Binns believes that the creation of the WNC Mountain Wine Trail was something that he had to put his own sweat equity and personal investment into because he believes it is something that must be done.
Binns said that he believes organizations like the Polk County Economic Development Commission would like to be able to help more in the effort but they are challenged by their budget constraints, which are funded partially by tourism and hospitality dollars.
Binns presented his concept to the Economic & Tourism Development Commission in August  2013 and was asked by the commission what he needed.
According to the minutes of the meeting, Binns responded by saying, “they could always use money.  The board suggested that he come back to another meeting with a presentation of specifics.”
Binns believes that it’s a chicken-or-the-egg problem, since Tryon and the surrounding area have a limited hospitality industry and that the funding mechanism is simply not there.  For this reason Binns believes that the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the local vineyards to aggressively step up to the plate and push the wine trail concept into an active tourism feature.
Both Karen and Bob Binns have a lengthy background in both the food and beverage industry and in agricultural sciences. They say that a climate feature of the thermal-belt region provides an unusually well balanced environment for growing grapes.  “The isothermal characteristics of the area keep the area’s  temperature at a relatively constant average,” said Binns.
Binns described what is known as a unique macro-climate of the area and also what is referred to as the micro-climates, which can be thought of as the environment surrounding the local soils and the plant structures themselves.  Karen Binns pointed to the existence of a well-established grape juice industry in Tryon by proudly displaying an old Tryon grape juice company bottle she found on their property during their excavation process.
Bob Binns said that people would get the attention of the merchants passing by Tryon on trains on route to New York. The wine and juice industry thrived in Polk County during the 1800s, as well as an established viticulture up until the time of Prohibition when the majority of the industry was shut down fully and never  recovered.
Destinations on the WNC Mountain Wine Trail include:  Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, Burntshirt Vineyards, Parker-Binns Vineyard, Mountain Brook Vineyards and Green Creek Winery.
For more information on the WNC Mountain Wine trail contact Bob and Karen Binns at 828-894-0154 or visit them on the web at www.parker-binnsvineyard.com.

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