The beer and wine industries are prospering in Winston-Salem and throughout North Carolina as they employ hundreds of people and bring tourists to the area, a panel said Tuesday night.
“Tourism is based on the local beer and wine industries,” said Jamie Bartholomaus, the owner of Foothills Brewing on West Fourth Street. “It is part of many, many people’s experience. We try to be around when people want to have a good time.”
Bartholomaus joined a panel who talked about the beer, wine and liquor industries locally and statewide as part of the second Twin City Talks Community Forum. Its topic was “Can We Drink Our Way to Prosperity with Craft Beer and Local Wine?”
The Winston-Salem Journal staged the forum, which is also sponsored by OrthoCarolina Winston.
Other panelists included Mark Friszolowski, a winemaker with Childress Vineyards in Lexington; Marcheta Cole Keefer, the director of marketing and communications with Visit Winston-Salem; and John Trump, the author of “Still &Barrel: Craft Spirits in the Old North State.”
Michael Hastings, the Journal’s food editor, moderated the discussion. About 80 people attended the event at the Footnote, at 634 W. Fourth St., Suite 120.
Bartholomaus said that his business employs 150 people, and about 90 of the those are full time.
“The local community support breweries, and the breweries support the local community,” Bartholomaus said.
Childress Vineyards employs about 100 people, most of whom are full-time workers, Friszolowski said. North Carolina is an ideal state in which to start a winery, he said.
Statistics show the beer, wine and liquor industries have a strong presence in North Carolina. There are 2,300 acres of vineyards in the state, more than 260 craft-beer breweries and about 160 liquor distilleries.
Investors are enticed by the state’s low land costs and state universities and community colleges, which educate students to obtain jobs in the wine industry, Friszlowski said.
Trump said the distilleries locally and statewide have grown partly because they have overcome state laws that restrict their industry. He pointed to 167 Alcohol Beverage Control, or ABC, boards in North Carolina, which regulate the sale of liquor.
Trump said that distilleries often market their product to the public.
“It’s what people want,” he said.
Visitors to Winston-Salem like to walk to the Foothills and other local breweries to drink beer, Keefer said.
Hastings asked the panel a few questions submitted anonymously from the audience. The question, “Do drunk tourists spend more money than sober tourists?” drew laughter from the audience and the panel.
Hastings said that most tourists who visit local breweries, wineries and distilleries like the taste of the beverages they are drinking. Keefer said that tourists consider their consumption of local beer, wine and liquor as a “culinary experience.”