The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is establishing an approximately 2,400-square mile “Appalachian High Country” viticultural area, an area designated as a grape-growing region, in all or portions of the following counties: Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, and Watauga Counties in North Carolina; Carter and Johnson Counties in Tennessee; and Grayson County in Virginia. According to a press release from TTB, the viticultural area is not located within any other viticultural area. TTB designates viticultural areas to allow vintners to better describe the origin of their wines and to allow consumers to better identify wines they may purchase. This final rule is effective November 28, 2016.
Wayne and Linda Gay, owners of Ville Nove Vineyards and Watauga Lake Winery, and also supporters of the American Viticultural Area (AVA), tout the economic benefits of a wine trail, where folks will eat, shop, sleep and drink in the local area. From the research done within the last couple years with consumers who have visited the AVA area, wineries, microbreweries and culinary experiences are all in the top list of things, in addition to outdoor recreation.
For bottles of wine to feature the coveted AVA label, 85 percent of the grapes must be grown within the AVA boundaries. Villa Nove Vineyards currently grows all of the grapes used in Watauga Lake wines. This is another positive effect of the AVA as farmers who are looking for an alternative crop will find that grapes will be needed as wineries grown within the region. There are about 234 other AVAs in the United States with only about 100 outside of California.
After the 30-day wait for the establishment of the AVA to go into effect, the wineries will be allowed to submit their new wine labels that feature the AVA logo. By the end of this year, at the latest, local wine should be showing off the Appalachian High Country AVA label.