DOBSON — Surry Community College hosted its fifth annual Southeastern United Grape and Wine Symposium on Wednesday. The event was created to address the needs of the ever-growing wine industry in the southeast.
“The Southeastern United Grape and Wine Symposium at Surry Community College unites all Southeastern states and beyond to brings folks together for a collective collaboration in educational sessions on viticulture and enology,” explained Joseph Geller, viticulture instructor at Surry Community College.
Surry Community College President Dr. David Shockley welcomed attendees at the start of the event. Keynote speaker for the symposium was Jerry Douglas, president of Biltmore Wines.
Douglas spoke to the need for adaptability in business plans for a winery. Though much larger in scale than most other North Carolina wineries, Douglas said they were still similar.
“We are more alike than you might think, we’ve got a big property, we’re asset heavy. We’ve got a big damn house,” Douglas said, to which attendees laughed aloud.
He recounted much of the history of the Biltmore House and the challenges faced when the winery was first established in the early 1980s.
The wine business is hard, Douglas said, “to be successful you really have to improvise, adapt and overcome.”
Other speakers at the symposium included Dr. Charles Safley, department head at NC State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics as well as Winery Consultant Patty Held.
Held’s session focused on how to run a successful wine trail.
“She had a lot of good advice, and some of the stuff she had done with her wine trail in Missouri sounded great,” said RagApple Lassie Winemaker Steven McHone.
During the symposium, attendees were able to meet with vendors in wine-related industries as well as attend specific sessions on topics such as innovation in the viticulture industry and the business of wine, presented by UNCG’s Bryan School of Business.
The symposium concluded with a grand wine tasting and organizers said they are looking forward to next year’s symposium.
“We had more than 12 wineries pouring at the Grand Wine Tasting, which is the finale event of the symposium that allows grape growers and winemakers the chance to exchange ideas and thoughts about the fall harvest, and simply have a good time tasting local wines,” Geller said.
“We are extremely proud of our event that is in its fifth year. Our Viticulture and Enology students help work the event and also benefit from the educational lectures and workshops. Our attendance is growing year after year. We look forward to hosting next year’s event on Nov. 8, 2017.”
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter and Instagram @RippleReporterK.