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Vineyards, BRCC team up for fall wine festival

Wineries and cider makers are teaming up for a new fall wine festival that could attract up to a thousand people for tastings, food and music.


The local wine industry for the first time is partnering with Blue Ridge Community College and its foundation, which raises money for student scholarships and other needs of the college.
Called the Blue Ridge Wine and Artisan Cider Festival, the event is designed to promote the local wine industry while raising money for programs that train students for jobs in the region's burgeoning wine and beer industry.
"It's actually benefiting the brewing, distilling and fermentation and horticulture programs as well as scholarships for those programs," said Ann Green, executive director of the BRCC Educational Foundation. "The committee wants us to plan on 1,000 people."
Alan Ward, who helped organize the first wine festival, met with BRCC President Molly Parkhill and pitched the idea of the partnership to promote local farming and wineries.
"We hope that it establishes an agriculture-based festival here," said Ward, founder of Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards. "We're going to have wine, hard cider, and we may invite the breweries" — all local. "Unless you make the stuff we don't want to see you."
"This year we're going to be wine and hard cider and introduce people to the East Coast wines and North Carolina wines that are winning awards nationally."
Fans of local wine and hard cider are expected to come from the local area and beyond, she said.
"We'll be inviting the local wineries," Green said. "We are limiting it to 25 because we want the event focused on them"
The committee is scheduling musical acts and working on food vendors. "Right now we're thinking food trucks," Green said.
Ward said the food offerings, like the wine, will promote farm products grown here.
"The only vendors that are going to be there are ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) vendors that use local foods," Ward said. "We're going to do some education classes, and we hope it evolves into a two-day fest where we have a kickoff with a wine education dinner."
The indoor-outdoor event will take place at BRCC's Blue Ridge Conference Hall and outside around the lake and on the grounds around the building.



Blue Ridge Wine and Artisan Cider Festival
Noon-6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25.
Blue Ridge Conference Hall and by the lake, BRCC.
Up to 25 wineries and cideries will offer wine and hard cider tastings.
Event also includes food vendors and music.
Tickets: $25.
Information (website is a work in progress, check back to buy tickets on line):