Watauga Lake Winery earns AVA designation

Published 8:12 am Friday, November 4, 2016

Photo Courtesy Watauga Lake Winery  Watauga Lake Winery recently received designation to be part of Appalachian High County AVA.

Photo Courtesy Watauga Lake Winery
Watauga Lake Winery recently received designation to be part of Appalachian High County AVA.

Since the end of October, it’s been an exciting time for the winery business in Tennessee.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced “Appalachian High Country” American Viticultural Area (AVA) was officially recognized in the Federal Register on Thursday, Oct. 27.
The designation is for approximately 24,000-square-foot spanning across eight counties in three states.
Johnson and Carter counties will be affected in Tennessee while Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell and Watauga counties in North Carolina and Grayson County, Va.
According to a release issued to the Elizabethton Star, the TTB issued the regulation in response to a petition submitted by the High Country on behalf of local vineyard and winery owners. The designation goes into effect on Monday, Nov. 28.
Watauga Lake Winery, located at 6952 Big Dry Run Road, Butler, Tenn., is one of the facilities that will see an impact from the AVA nod.
“It’s very exciting,” Watauga Lake Winery co-owner Wayne Gay told the Elizabethton Star Thursday. “It’s big from the standpoint for the wine industry, but it’s also big for tourism.”
Wayne and his wife, Linda, operate both Watauga Lake Winery and Villa Nove Vineyards and noted they’ve seen an increase in traffic of attendees over the years.
But the designation was a long time coming, Gay said. While the business felt sure they would receive the designation, it was more about just waiting for the final result.
Gay credited the efforts of Johnnie James, board member with High Country Wine Growers Association, for making the designation possible, helping secure assistance from other outlets, including the work of a graduate student from Appalachian State University and other wine growers in the region.
The designation notes that the region is unique for growing grapes due to climate and soil. With the notification, the items sold from the business will be able to have the designation — making it a more hot-ticket item than it already is.
The winery recently earned five bronze medals at the Mid-Atlantic Southeast Wine Competition and two silver medals at the Wines of the South Competition.
With the notoriety, Gay added the winery recently met with the tourism representatives with Carter County to help highlight the region.
But with the designation, the winery is hoping to see more businesses spring up in the area to offer a healthy mix of competition.
For more information on how to be part of viticulture or Watauga Lake Winery, visit their website at wataugalakewinery.com or call (423) 768-0345.

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