Achieving Grapeness in Henderson County

Burntshirt Vineyards
Photo by Rachel Pressley

Earlier this summer, 215 square miles of fertile land in Henderson County was federally designated as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). This two-and-a-half-year-long petition was successfully passed with the help of Agribusiness Henderson County, a neutral-party organization that focuses on economic development for agriculture in the county. “I get to work with producers in the agricultural area here,” says Mark Williams, the group’s executive director. “This whole effort has been a collaborative one, though. We give credit to our pioneer vineyards, Saint Paul Mountain and Burntshirt Vineyards. They identified the consultant we used and brought the idea to the table.” 

An American Viticultural Area outlines a tract of land where grapes are being produced, or one where there is good potential for production. Popular examples include the Sonoma and Napa Valleys in California. “In our case, we are situated along the crest of the Blue Ridge; our vineyards straddle the Eastern Continental Divide. When seeking the designation, it’s important to note that it is not just based on a geographic standpoint, but it looks at various soil types, weather conditions and patterns, water availability, and other climatological data,” Williams explains.

Warm summer days and cool summer nights help substantially to produce high-quality grapes, and ultimately, high-quality wine. More land is being purchased for upcoming vineyard endeavors that are set to open in the next few years.

Visit agrihc.org for more information.

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