You can be a vigneron, too

The French Broad Vignerons made their group official last month. They became incorporated prior to judging the Asheville Wine and Food Festival's Amateur Wine Maker Competition. Traditionally, a vigneron both grows grapes and makes wine, combining the roles of a viticulturist (grape cultivator) and an oenologist (wine maker). While some of the French Broad Vignerons are what their title suggests, anyone is welcome to join, says Chuck Blethen, vice president for public relations. The group talks about growing grapes and making wine at its monthly meetings and educational events.

Blethen also owns the Blue Ridge Vineyard and Greenhouse in Marshall and directs the Southern Appalachian Viticulture Institute. He propagates and studies a particular strain of cold-hardy muscadine that grows wild in Western North Carolina, which requires no pesticides and produces high yields. On Sept. 28, he will teach a class entitled “Grow Your Own Wine Vine” at A-B Tech's Small Business Center. In addition to cultivation techniques, the course will cover the variety of value-added products that stem from grapes, of which wine is just one.

For more information about the French Broad Vignerons, contact Blethen at 606-3130 or at or read their blog at To learn about “Grow Your Own Wine Vine,” visit

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