Wine, grape growing impact our county

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To the Editor:
As a grape grower we read with great pride and appreciate TDB for publishing the article of the wine and grape industry impact on this state (Friday, Oct. 7, 2011 article).
The wine industry having an overall impact of $1.28 billion on the state’s economy in 2009 is pretty significant.
Gov. Bev Purdue’s quote, “This growing industry is a significant economic engine for N.C., helping to preserve farmland and bring revenue to our rural communities” should be a wake-up call for Polk County.
Just to educate people to this industry in this county, Polk has 12+/- vineyards in this county which sell their grapes to local wineries, and wineries as far away as Tennessee and Georgia.
We now have four wineries in Polk County, with the recent one opening this fall. Not only does this grape business impact the wineries themselves but it helps other businesses as restaurants, accommodations, area things to do, etc.
Let’s face it, wineries and vineyards are a draw to areas.  People will come and then take note about what our county has to offer in tourism. Not only are the vineyards and wineries beautiful and a way of preserving farmland, but people are fascinated by the industry and the countryside itself.
The fact that this county is fertile and has ideal conditions for grape growing along with Polk County’s long history of grape growing will bring more farmers to the area looking to start vineyards and wineries. We need to make people aware of this. We read with much disappointment that the third annual FENCE Wine and Art Festival took place outside this county (and state) because “FENCE could not get a permit to have the event at Derbyshire (as it had in the last two years) because Polk County is a dry county outside of city limits.”
When will this county “wake up” and see that this county does not exist only in the towns of this county. Give the countryside its due. Be appreciative of what the countryside does for this county.
As a past bed and breakfast owner in the country our vineyards and the local wineries were the draw for people to visit and stay with us. When they made their reservations most knew nothing about the county… they came to stay in the country and stay on a working vineyard.
Not having the festival in this county in its countryside is a real shame in so many ways.  The wineries involved that will be showcasing their wines were not even able to sell their wines without costly S.C. permits and it doesn’t allow wineries from other counties the opportunity to come to Polk County to sell their wines and see what a beautiful place we have here.
This county and its powers to be are making it difficult for the farmers and its countryside to get their due. Polk County, wake up to the fact that we should be hallmarking the vineyards and wineries and the rural areas in this county as a draw…to reap the tourism money and be an “economic engine” for Polk County and “bring revenue to the rural communities.”
Eliminate Polk County as being a dry county so we can have more rural events and rural restaurants start up in which to hallmark our wines and countryside.
Take heed from other counties in this state that “smelled the grapes” and reaped from the wine and grape industry.  Let Yadkin areas be the Napa and Polk County areas be the Sonoma.
– Claude and Peggy Turner, Green River Vineyard

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