Around the region: Cauble Creek becomes 100th winery in N.C.

Published 12:44 pm Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cliffs course work to resume in April, developer said

North Carolina is now home to 100 wineries following the opening of Cauble Creek Vineyard in Salisbury.

The number of wineries in the state has grown dramatically over the last 30 years. In 1972, Westbend Vineyards was the first winery to plant European vinifera grapes in the Yadkin Valley. By 2005, the state had 50 wineries making both European vinifera and muscadine wines. The number of wineries has doubled in just the past five years and the North Carolina Wine & Grape Council reports that more wineries have already filed with the council since Cauble Creek opened

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North Carolina now ranks seventh in wine production and 10th in grape production in the country, according to research funded by the N.C. Wine & Grape Council. The research also found that the wine and grape industry accounts for more than 5,700 jobs in the state with a total economic impact of as much as $813 million. According to a 2007 Travel Industry Association survey, North Carolina also ranks among the top five states as a culinary tourism destination.

Every part of the state is home to wineries, including the Biltmore in Asheville, N.C., the most visited winery in the nation. Duplin Winery in Rose Hill is the largest volume producer of wine in the state and the largest muscadine winery in the world.

William Yost, owner of Cauble Creek Vineyards, joined the list of winery owners in the state after leaving a job in industrial sales.

“With the winery start up, my main goals were to support the tourism, heritage and sustainability basics,” said Yost, who grew up on a farm, “so I wanted to plant something that would do well on this land in order to make a quality grape product with the opportunity for product line extensions.”

Justin Furr, executive director of the N.C. Wine & Grape Council, said grape growing requires innovative farmers and entrepreneurs.

“It costs $10,000 an acre just to plant wine grapes – that doesn’t include fertilizer or pruning or upkeep after they are in the soil,” he said.

For more information on visiting North Carolina wineries, buying North Carolina wine or enjoying seasonal events at wineries across the state, go to


Despite slow real estate sales, construction is expected to resume in April on the Tiger Woods-designed golf course, The Cliffs at High Carolina, according to developer Jim Anthony.

Developers recently announced they have suspended a $1 billion project in Dubai that was expected to include the first golf course designed by Woods. So, if work proceeds as planned on The Cliffs at High Carolina, it will become the first Woods-designed course in the world.  The course is part of a 3,000-acre development in eastern Buncombe County that will feature up to 1,200 lots.

Since sales began in November 2008, only about 42 home sites have been sold at The Cliffs at High Carolina, according to The Cliffs development company, which has eight golf course communities in the Carolinas.

“We’ve invested $150 million in this project, so we are fully committed, and Tiger is fully committed to seeing this through to completion,” said Cliffs founder Anthony.

Anthony previously said the course could open in late 2011, but now predicts the course may not be ready for play until 2013. He said about two thirds of the grading work at the course is complete after recently bringing in a construction group for the work.

Last year the Cliffs borrowed $62 million from homeowners and landowners in the Cliffs communities to reduce its debt and provide capital for operations at some of the Cliffs developments.


Charlotte has been selected by the Democratic National Committee to host the 2012 Democratic Party convention. Charlotte topped Cleveland, Minneapolis and St. Louis, other cities bidding for the convention, which is expected to draw up to 35,000 delegates, political leaders and media representatives.  Charlotte’s selection indicates President Obama plans to battle for Republican leaning states that supported him in the 2008 election. Obama was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win North Carolina since Jimmy Carter. The White House says it will seek alternative funding methods for the 2012 convention, which will try to foster the grass-roots movement that catapulted Obama to victory in 2008.


Atlantic Beverage Inc. plans to invest $10 million over the next two years and generate 300 new jobs at a new facility in Spartanburg County. The company plans to put a new bottling operation in an existing building near I-26 and begin operations in the next few months.

“We are very excited about bringing our new bottling facility online,” said Fran Graham CEO of Atlantic Beverage Inc. “Spartanburg County was able to provide us with a building that was the perfect fit. South Carolina has an excellent business environment, a strong workforce and provides us with exceptional access to markets.”

The company said it plans to work with Spartanburg Community College on the hiring process. Anyone interested in job opportunities with the company should visit where listings will be posted when hiring begins.


NS Aviation is planning to open an aircraft maintenance facility that will bring 308 jobs to Forsyth County over the next four years. The company will fill a facility near Winston-Salem that was left vacant after Pace Airlines ceased operations in 2009. NS Aviation says it plans to hire many of the former Pace employees who are currently unemployed.

“NS Aviation is part of North Carolina’s transformation to a highly-skilled, knowledge-driven economy, as they join the growing aerospace industry in the Triad,” said N.C. Governor Bev Perdue.


Boeing Co. has selected New Breed Logistics Inc. of North Carolina to run logistics support for Boeing’s new plant in North Charleston, S.C.  New Breed Logistics, a High Point based company, will create a new facility near the new Boeing plant to provide inventory control services for the Boeing 787 production. New Breed also provides supports for other Boeing airplane production. The contract approved for the North Charleston plant represents the largest single deal between the two companies.


Business and philanthropic leaders in Charlotte are teaming up for Project LIFT, a five-year, $55 million initiative to improve student performance at West Charlotte High and its seven feeder schools. The group is planning to invest in support for teachers, extended schooling hours, and improved technology with the goal of lifting students out of poverty and providing greater opportunities. Project LIFT also plans to encourage greater support from families and the community.

The group said it already has pledges for $40 million to fund the initiative, which will impact schools with a combined enrollment of about 7,500.  Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools Supt. Peter Gorman said the district is grateful for the assistance, which is greatly needed now because of budget cuts.

Many residents in West Charlotte areas said their schools have suffered a disproportionate level of budget cuts and some have suggested racial issues may be involved. Project LIFT organizers said they selected West Charlotte High because it has significant needs, as reflected by its 51 percent graduation rate, but also because it has shown progress.

The full program, which will include summer and early-childhood education programs, is expected to be in operation beginning in the 2012-13 school year.


Asheville had the largest percentage increase in foreclosures in the nation between 2009 and 2010, according to a RealtyTrac report.  The report showed foreclosures increased by 229 percent in the Asheville metropolitan area, which includes Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties. The metropolitan area had 1,496 foreclosure filings in 2010, putting it 175th out of 205 metro areas studied by RealtyTrac. According to some real estate market observers, Asheville ranked high last year, in part, because the foreclosure crisis was late arriving to Western North Carolina.

North Carolina had a total of 67,854 foreclosures last year. The state has been working to help homeowners facing foreclosure by providing access to loan modification programs. The state urges homeowners to avoid any out-of-state companies advertising a loan modification for upfront fees. It is illegal for companies to even advertise in North Carolina a modification for upfront fees.


The Asheville metro area is sixth in the nation for average credit card debt for residents, according to a recent nation credit report. Equifax found that North Carolina ranked second behind Florida for the ratio of credit card debt to income in the study. In addition to Asheville, the Wilmington, Fayetteville and Winston-Salem areas also made the top 10. The report found that Asheville-area households have an average of $6,431 in credit card debt, or 16.12 percent of median income.  Celeste Collins, executive director of OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling in Asheville, says the city ranks poorly due to the relatively low wages in the area.

“The jobs in the hospitality industry tend to be lower-paying than some of the manufacturing jobs we’ve lost over the past couple of decades,” said Collins.


North Carolina gets a failing grade for its work to limit deaths and disease associated with tobacco use, according to a report from the American Lung Association.  The association gave the nation’s leading tobacco-producing state nothing but “F” grades for tobacco prevention, smoking restrictions, tobacco taxes and cessation efforts.

“Most of our states are failing miserably when it comes to combating tobacco-caused disease despite collecting millions of dollars, and in some cases, billions in tobacco settlement dollars and excise taxes,” said Chuck Connor, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Most states are only investing pennies of those same dollars to help smokers quit and keep kids from starting.”

The failing grade on smoking restrictions came despite the state’s ban on smoking in restaurants and bars, which was applauded by the association. The association said North Carolina should significantly raise its tobacco tax, currently at 45 cents per pack, to reduce smoking in the state. The tax, last increased in North Carolina by 5 cents in 2005, is one of the lowest in the nation.


Raleigh City Council has approved a ban on smoking in the city’s parks. Raleigh joins several other North Carolina cities, including Asheville and Boone, which have approved such bans. According to the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights group, the North Carolina cities are among nearly 500 municipalities across the country to ban smoking in parks. Supporters of the ban said it will improve air quality and reduce litter from cigarette butts.


The Westgate Village shopping center in Spartanburg that was anchored by the now shuttered Circuit City is gaining new tenants. LongHorn Steakhouse is opening in the space that was formerly occupied by Pier 1 Imports and Toys R US plans to move its Spartanburg store in the WestGate Crossing shopping center to the former Circuit City space. Toys R US says its new 47,000-square-foot superstore will include room for a Babies R US area.  Old Navy is also planning to move from the WestGate Crossing shopping center to the Westgate Village center, filling a vacant space between LongHorn and Dollar General.