WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — North Carolina’s new wine tourism campaign could end up benefiting Winston-Salem as much as the wineries themselves.
The state’s campaign, which is national in scope, includes new wine guides, new billboards and a smartphone app. The billboards should be up in the coming weeks.
Rich Geiger with Visit Winston-Salem said the state’s campaign meshes well with the city’s new tourism campaign. It encourages people to enjoy all the Yadkin Valley wineries by day and then wine, dine and sleep in the city at night.
“It’s great for us because more than a third of the state’s wineries are right here in our backyard in the Yadkin Valley,” Geiger said.
Steve Shepard, maker of Davie County-based Raylen Vineyards and president of the North Carolina Wine Growers’ Association, said the new campaign’s focus is a message the wineries couldn’t afford to promote alone.
“They have the arts and manufacturing and tourism. Well, the wineries are all of that. We are manufacturing. We are also in the tourism aspect of it, and making wine is an art,” Shepard said.
About one million people visited Winston-Salem last year, mostly from North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Those tourists paid $50 million in state and local tax in Forsyth County.
“The $50 million that tourists pump into our tax coffers, that’s $50 million less local taxpayers have to come up with to pay for our schools, our roads, highways and hospitals. Tourism is big, big business, and it creates jobs,” Geiger said.
There are now more than 100 wineries in North Carolina. There were only 15 state wineries in 2000.