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NC study shows winery visitors educated, moneyed

WINSTON-SALEM (AP) ó The first state survey of who visits North Carolina wineries will help tourism officials market the wineries to those who like them, typically well-educated people in middle age, officials said.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported Wednesday that the study released last week by the N.C. Wine and Grape Council showed that purchases at wineries averaged $176 per visiting group.
North Carolina has more than 70 wineries with annual sales estimated at $48.2 million. The wineries are spread over 31 counties.
The survey results came from 925 responses to questionnaires distributed from October to December at 13 wineries.
Some 64 percent of the visitors were women. The visitorsí average age was 47 and 63 percent said they had a college degree. More than a third had incomes above $100,000 a year.
Grape council official Margo Knight Metzger said the survey identifies winery customers and helps fine-tune marketing. It was the first time such a report has been conducted of the stateís wine industry.
The report also says most winery visitors are taking a day trip and 53 percent are from North Carolina.
ěWhen we looked at what they enjoyed most, it was tasting the wine and buying the wine. They are looking for dining experiences. In some cases, they were looking for entertainment,î said Carol Pollard, the executive director of Appalachian State Universityís Center for Applied Research on Emerging Technologies. The center gathered data for the report.
Officials said that no one knew who winery customers were.
ěThis is a really big step for us. Weíre really finding out who we are talking to,î Metzger said. ěItís just as your marketing gets more sophisticated, as your budget increases, you want to make sure every dollar is spent in the best way possible.î
Pollard said few of the visitors brought children who were 18 or younger so that meant wineries didnít have to plan family facilities.
Pollard said survey results also showed that some visitors came just for the experience of being in a winery, but others were interested in the quality of the wine.
ěAs with any other emerging wine market, in North Carolina as the experience grows, so will the quality,î she said. ěThe consistency is probably the main issue at the moment.î

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