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UC Trying To Become New Federally Recognized Wine Region

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
UC Trying To Become New Federally Recognized Wine Region

Upper Cumberland Wineries have petitioned the federal government to make the Upper Cumberland its own American Viticultural Area (AVA).

Appalachian Region Wine Producers Association President Rick Riddle said he expects progress on the proposal in the early summer. Riddle said a study from the University of Tennessee found that wine consumers place a high value on these special wine regions.

“One of the first things they look for is an association of the wine with the geography of the winery with the area,” Riddle said. “And I know when we have people that come into our tasting room, one of the first questions they ask, ‘Oh is this wine made from grapes that you grow?’”

Riddle said AVA petition was inspired by an increase in the number of AVAs and their success in multiple nearby states. He said the designation can lead to more wineries and more options.

Riddle said the wine industry is complementary, not competitive, meaning that establishing the AVA and encouraging more wineries to come to the region would benefit everyone involved. He said that local consumers will also benefit from the change due to the increase in new wineries to choose from.

“There are some winery owners that don’t see the industry as a complementary industry,” Riddle said. “They think, ‘If I’m out in the middle of nowhere all by myself I’ll do better.’ But every study literally that’s ever been done when you compare the lone winery with two wineries in an area or three wineries that are relatively close together a short driving distance, you know, the income for each of the wineries in the three wine clusters is much higher than the income was for the single winery.”

Riddle said the process to apply for the designation involves working with geographers, climatologists, and soil scientists to make an application and then going through multiple rounds of notes from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s experts on how to adjust the proposal.

“If we really want to do something for the industry and create a name for our wines here in Tennessee and a destination for tourists in Tennessee, this is the model that we need to follow,” Riddle said.

He said the petition was funded by the USDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

“I think it benefits all around,” Riddle said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a study that has pointed out any negative impact to a local consumer versus, you know, drawing tourists into the area.”

Riddle said it is very uncommon for an AVA petition to be denied.

“Unless you’ve really done a sloppy job in putting your petition together, a petition denial is relatively rare because the TTB wants to support the industry,” Riddle said.

Riddle said the petition is one of several meant to establish AVAs all throughout the different regions of Tennessee.


The post UC Trying To Become New Federally Recognized Wine Region appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.