Breaking ground symbolizes the construction of something new and exciting. On Friday, May 2, that tradition held true at Surry Community College where state and local officials, college staff, board members, members of the NC Winegrowers Association and other invited guests from neighboring communities celebrated the official beginning of the NC Center for Viticulture and Enology on the main campus in Dobson.
The groundbreaking marks the beginning of phase I of two phases of the project. Initially, the center will house a state-of-the-art bonded winery, provide workforce training, and allow students to produce quality wines that are bottled, labeled, and marketed by students. In addition to a model/ teaching demonstration winery, the center will house classrooms, instructors’ offices, a resource library, a climate controlled wine cellar and public space, which can host seminars, conventions, and conferences. Phase II will add an auditorium and science building.
Dr. Deborah Friedman, President of SCC proudly welcomed the crowd and spoke of what a momentous occasion this ceremony marks. Mrs. Marion Venable, Ex. Dir. of the SCC Foundation praised everyone involved for the hard work it has taken to get to this point. She introduced Walter Dalton, Lt. Gov. of N.C. who was enthusiastic about the future impact of the center.
“This viticulture center is another example of innovation and excellence in this area,” stated Dalton. “ I want to commend Ed and Charlie Shelton for their pioneering in this industry. This center is the next evolution in the development of this industry; it will solidify this region as the leader in this field.”
Virginia Foxx, U.S. house representative, also complimented the college staff, board and others who have worked so hard to see this dream become a reality.
“I am particularly proud of SCC for taking the lead in the viticulture center. I don’t think there’s a better example of what a community college should be doing. Its reputation is great; it’s such a positive thing happening in this area,” said Foxx.
Other officials who spoke at the ceremony include: Dr. Linwood Powell, Vice-Chair State Board of Community Colleges, Dr. Frank Sells, Former Pres. of SCC, Mr. Gene Rees, Chair Board of Trustees SCC, Mr. Craig Hunter, Chair Surry County Commissioners, and Mrs. Amy Helton, Pres. NC Winegrowers Assoc.
Perhaps some of the most thought-provoking comments made at the ceremony came from Mr. Bobby Todd, Ex. Dir. Yadkin County Chamber.
“This is a great day for the area and the economic impact it will make. If you look up “Yadkin” you won’t find another one. There is more than one Sonoma and more than one Napa but there’s only one “Yadkin,” said Todd. “People ask if we want to be known at the Napa Valley of the east and I say to them, we want them to be known at the Yadkin Valley of the west.”
This brought on chuckles and applause from the guests.
The end of the ground breaking ceremony was marked by the recognition of special donors including Zack Blackburn Sr., for which the library and conference room would be named, Mr. and Mrs. Bobby Harrell, for which the grand hall would be named and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Shelton along with Mr. and Mrs. Ed Shelton who were honored by the naming of the facility. It will be called The Shelton – Badgette NC Center for Viticulture and Enology.