Last updated: June 01. 2013 7:58AM - 1993 Views
Staff Report

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After seven years of producing and serving hand-crafted wines from locally-grown grapes and fruit, New River Winery of Lansing is for sale.

“We have appreciated the support of our customers, and hate to lose this gathering place for friends in Lansing,” said General Manager Darlene Massey.

Located on the campus of the Old Lansing School, NRW was established by a group of investors with ties to Ashe County interested in promoting tourism and agriculture in the area, Massey said.

New River Winery specializes in wines made from high-altitude varietals — Noiret, Baco Noir, Traminette, and Seyval — tolerant of the High Country’s harsh winters and short growing season, she said. “We could have bought grapes from California, but we weren’t about that.”

The winery has also gained a reputation for its traditional fruit wines, she said, made from Ashe County blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.

With an organic certification from Clemson University, NRW recently began producing organic wines, she said.

Over the years, NRW became known for its welcoming patio bar, which serves as a hang-out for locals and tourists, and as a local music venue. “Sales at the bar increased every year,” Massey said.

Despite its successes, the winery hit a wall in 2012 while trying increase production and sales, she said. More marketing needed to be done to boost wholesale sales, and investments were needed either in support of local growers or toward the acquisition of a vineyard to secure increased supplies of produce.

“We were under-capitalized from the very beginning,” she said.

According to New River Winery President Joe Martin, winery shareholders are eager to transition the winery to new ownership. “Our first choice would be to find a buyer who will continue in the mission to promote quality local wine, and we are prepared to negotiate an attractive offer.”

“Our present facility has the capacity to produce approximately 1,500 cases of wine per year,” Martin said.

New River Winery is a “freestanding winery,” and can be moved, since it is not connected to a vineyard or other real estate as is typical with other wineries, he said.

Martin said the winery package includes an established wholesale market and distributorship license, an up-to-date Website with online sales capability and social media position and a brand well-know in the High Country and elsewhere. Assistance with transitioning all licenses and permits is also offered.

While NRW was unable to achieve crucial marketing and production goals, Massey said their mission to produce fine wines from local produce and create an inviting atmosphere for patrons was successful.

“It’s always been about the local community — we’re all about the High Country,” she said. “We want so much for somebody to continue that.”

For more information on New River Winery, email Joe Martin at jmartin@provosty.com

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