Tennessee Governor Names May "Wine and Grape Appreciation Month"

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Appalachian Region Wine Producers Association welcomes proclamation by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

Commissioner Jai Templeton speaks before the Nine Lakes Winemakers' Dinner May 19.

Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton speaks at the Nine Lakes Winemakers' Dinner May 19.

“The grape and wine industry is growing in importance and significance to our agriculture and tourism industries,” Commissioner Jai Templeton said.

On May 11, 2017, Governor Bill Haslam proclaimed May as Tennessee Wine and Grape Appreciation Month.

Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton read the proclamation aloud on May 19 in Oak Ridge, to a room of 100 winemakers and guests at the inaugural Winemakers’ Dinner at Nine Lakes Wine Festival. The proclamation (see below) recognizes the growth and economic impact of the Tennessee wine and grape industry in recent years.

“The grape and wine industry is growing in importance and significance to our agriculture and tourism industries,” Commissioner Jai Templeton said. “I’m pleased that Gov. Bill Haslam recognizes the impact of this sector on our rural economy. We look forward to continuing our efforts to support growth and opportunity in this area.”

“Designating May as Tennessee Wine and Grape Appreciation Month builds on the efforts we have been working on, to grow this important segment of agriculture in Tennessee,” said James R. Riddle, president of the Appalachian Region Wine Producers Association (ARWPA), which hosted the dinner and May 20 festival.

Grapes are one of the fastest growing segments of Tennessee agriculture, with a 56 percent increase in production acreage from 2007 to 2012. The wine and grape industry currently employs more than 400 people in Tennessee, with 20 percent year-over-year job growth.

The Tennessee grape and wine industry has an economic impact of an estimated $40 to $60 million per year and contributes significantly to enhanced tourism opportunities in Tennessee by providing travel destinations. Tennessee is now home to seven wine trails, five of those located in East Tennessee.

The wine and grape month designation was championed by ARWPA as well as the Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance. The organizations are working with the United States Department of Agriculture and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to increase consumer awareness and develop brand identity of the many award winning Tennessee wines.

“Nine Lakes Wine Festival is just one of our efforts,” said Riddle. “We are also working to establish ‘American Viticultural Areas’ in Tennessee, including one in the Nine Lakes region surrounding Knoxville. An AVA is a federally designated growing region for grapes. This would help us establish an identity for our wines, which is crucial in the industry. Think of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Those are American Viticultural Areas.”

The Nine Lakes region of East Tennessee – called so because of the nine TVA-made lakes surrounding Knoxville-- has a unique climate for growing grapes. Wines produced from these grapes have been distinguished in competitions across the United States.

“We have nine lakes, surrounded by two mountain chains. Combined with the lake effect, our gentle hillsides are perfect for growing many varietals of grapes,” said Riddle. “This region of Tennessee already has more wineries and vineyards than any other part of the state. It is a wonderful place to visit and taste many award winning wines.”

“Our goal is to put Tennessee on the wine lover’s map,” said Riddle. “Celebrating Tennessee wines during Tennessee Grape and Wine Appreciation month is a great start.”

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Rebecca Williams

James R. Riddle
Nine Lakes Wine Festival
since: 11/2016
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