You are visiting the Sustainable Appalachian Viticulture Institute (SAVI) website


Sustainable Appalachian
Viticulture Institute (SAVI)

Spanish Translation
Strong advocates for growing cold-hardy, native grapes in Western North Carolina and the many phytochemicals that are derived from them

SAVI Mission: To promote the research, development, propagation and planting of cold-hardy and disease resistant grape cultivars in vineyards in the Appalachian Mountains using sustainable farming methods including organic and biodynamic methods. SAVI will participate in the development and implementation of training programs on all phases of grape growth and propagation. Initially, the work will be focused on the 23 mountain counties of Western North Carolina.


Advisory Board: SAVI maintains an Advisory Board consisting of specialists in the fields of sustainable viticulture – organic and biodynamic. These experts include University Extension specialists, vineyard owners, economic advisors, and consultants practicing in sustainable viticulture and phytochemistry.

Our advisory board members include:

Chuck Blethen, Executive Director, Sustainable Appalachian Viticulture Institute, Marshall NC (Vineyard owner, viticulture instructor, and winemaker)

Dave Van Pelt, President & CEO, Twin City Alliance in Winston-Salem NC (International Business specialist)

Charlie Caldwell, Winemaker & Vineyard owner, Black Squirrel Vineyard and Winery, Council Bluffs, Iowa (7 acres of native grapes growing organically for 10 years).

Hugh Courtney, (Biodynamic Preparations Specialist), Earth Legacy Agriculture, Woolwine VA

Dr. Jeanine Davis, Mills River NC (NCSU Extension agent with the most experience in organic growing methods)

Phillip Hart, Winemaker & Vineyard owner, AmByth Estate, Templeton CA (20 acres of grapes growing biodynamically for 10 years)

Barbara Shinn, Co-owner, agronomist, vintner, Shinn Estate Vineyard & Farmhouse, Mattituck NY (20 acres of grapes growing biodynamically for 14 years)

Dennis Goodwin, Owner of DenBar Vineyard, Board member of the North Carolina Muscadine Grape Association, Asheville NC

David Kendall, Spring Creek NC (Retired NCSU Extension Agent in Madison County NC)

Lon Rombough, Grape Breeder & Author, “The Grape Grower – A Guide to Organic Viticulture”, Aurora OR (Died January 30, 2012 at 62 yrs old - we shall miss his wisdom and guidance that led us to our successful propagation methods for our Katuah Muscadines)


Mountain Viticulture

Vitis Vinifera (European grape cultivars) are currently grown in large vineyard plantings in the coastal and piedmont areas of NC. The weather is warm, humid, and low altitude with high disease pressure. Most Vinifera that are available for planting in the USA are not cold-hardy and thus are not suitable for growing in the mountains of WNC. Further, vinifera are not resistant to any of the pests, molds, fungi, and other diseases indigenous to North America, thus requiring stringent chemical spraying regimens to keep them alive and producing acceptable crops. All of the Vinifera must be grafted to wild American grape root-stock to prevent the indigenous root louse, phyloxera, from killing the vines. Most of the soils in the mountain counties of NC are residual soils from 600 million years of weathering granite. These soils tend to be low pH, high in Aluminum ions, and be either hard-pan red clays or extremely rocky residual soils. “Rich soils,” those dark soils with lots of humus, tend to occur in “bottom land” and are not particularly good for grapes because the low lands are also where cold air accumulates and causes frost damage to vines. The best farm sites for grapes are on the south or southeast facing slopes – not on the bottom of the valleys or on the top of the mountains. The best grapes to grow are certain Euro-American Hybrid grapes or native American grapes.

Sustainable Viticulture: When a process is sustainable, it can be maintained indefinitely. Sustainable food production can be maintained indefinitely because sustainable farmers do not take more resources to produce food than they give back. A reliance on renewable resources - as well as on symbiotic relationships with nature and the surrounding community - means that these farms do not damage the environment, are humane for workers and animals, provide a fair wage to the farmer, and support and enhance rural life. Because sustainable farmers see nature as an ally rather than an obstacle, they are able to produce more wholesome food while using less fossil fuels (thus lessening the impact on global warming), and without using any synthetic pesticides, artificial hormones, or antibiotics. Growing grapes in a sustainable environment is beneficial to the farm, the community and the ultimate consumer.

Grapes can be used for making pies, preserves, jams, jellies, juice, providing fresh table fruit, raisins, flavored vinegars, grapeseed oils, and wine. Other value added products derived from grapes include pigments, paper, biomass fuel pellets, and neutraceuticals. We have documented over 150 products that can be made from grapes.

As of January 1, 2015 there were over 760 vineyards in 18 wine-producing countries using biodynamic viticulture, and thousands more using organic or natural growing methods. It is a recognized fact that the overwhelming majority of vineyards in North America are using traditional chemical spray methods of growing wine and table grapes, resulting in wines being sold containing residual pesticides. More and more farms worldwide are making the transition to sustainable viticulture growing methods. We recognize the difficulty in dealing with such entrenched chemical methods but each month that passes brings more and more data to the forefront that confirm the viability of sustainable viticulture. Lessened impact on the earth, improved health of vines, more intense colors, and better flavors have led to superior tasting wines. (

The mountains of Western North Carolina represent an ideal location for vineyards and wineries. The job creation possibility is large and the potential for agri-tourism income and tax revenue for the state is significant.



Archives of "The Mountain Grapevine" radio programs
on wART community radio from Madison County NC
95.5 FM
(or listen on the Internet at


History of the Viticulture industry in North Carolina
NC Wine Industry History

Jewel of the Blue Ridge Vineyard
Tobacco Stick Art - Useful mountain made items with history!
Appalachian Butter Knife, Cutting Board, & Napking Rings

Appalachian Butter KnifentheMountains.pdf



A Collection of References for the Natural/Organic/Biodynamic Grapegrower

Videos/Presentations/Radio Interviews with Chuck Blethen:
Chuck Blethen, Phil & Phillip Nordan fromTreehouse Vineyards, 880 AM Jeff Musser Radio Show, March 2017 - Musser radio show
Chuck & David Kendall radio interview discussing Agritourism and the Katuah Muscadine, October 2013 - Radio Free Madison Interview
Spray Drift in the Mountains, September 2013 - Spray Drift Video
TEDxKatuah, Flat Rock NC in 2013 - Using Viticulture as an Engine for Economic Growth in the Mountains of WNC
Growing the Raw Materials for a Grape-Based Industry in the Mountains of NC, May 12, 2012 - BioNetwork BioForum
TEDxKatuah, Roswell NC in 2011-A Really Grape Story: The Story of the Cold-hardy Katuah Muscadine
"Wild Mountain Muscadines of Madison County" pages 8-9 March 2011 - AppalachiaPlace-BasedFoods.pdf
Growing Grapes in the Mountains of WNC, March 2010 -
Exploring Mountain Muscadine Wine Grape Production March 17, 2010 (Warning - 23 meg file!) - OrganicGrowersSchoolMarch2010.pdf

Basic Muscadine Information -
Wild American Grapes and Wine Rrecipes -
Muscadine Growing Information -
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for NC -

Muscadines as a Cash Crop -
Preserving Native American Grapes in the Wild -
North Carolina Muscadine Grape Association -
North Carolina Wine & Grape Council -
NCSU Extension Muscadine Grapes (commercial cultivars & sources) -
North Carolina Wine Growers Association -
Members of CERVIM -
The North Carolina Grape Growers Guide from NCSU - 2018 -
Training systems for grapevines - 2002 -
Health Aspects of Muscadines -
Health Benefits of Muscadines - MuscadineHealthBenefitsTalk2009
The Vineyard Yeast Microbiome, a Mixed Model Microbial Map - Yeast Populations in Vineyards
Biodynamic Farm Standards 2012 - Biodynamic Farm Standards
The Role of Beneficial Myccorrhizal Fungi in Grapevine Nutrition USDA Research Service, Davis CA


Bio-dynamic Grape Growing & BioDynamic Wine Reference List

YouTube Videos

The BioDynamic Vineyard -
CERVIM video -

A French Vineyard Experience
1 - Changing from Traditional to Organic Viticulture -
2 - Changing from Organic to BioDynamic Viticulture  -
3 - Leaving the Coop -
4 - BioDynamic Preparations -
5 - Viticulture by the BioDynamic Calendar -
6 - Using BioDynamic Herbal Teas -
7 - The Vines & the Wines -

Websites – Primarily text with some embedded videos
1 - An introduction to biodynamics -
2 - What is biodynamics?  -
3 - Who is doing it?  -
4 - Are you certifiable?   -
5 - An audience with Nicolas Joly  -
6 - Alvaro Espinoza—biodynamics in the new world  -
7 - Biodynamics in action - a visit with James Millton  -
8 - The BioDynamic consultants  -
9 - Bringing together biodynamics and science  -
10 - An interview with Monty Waldin, author of “Biodynamic Wine”  -
11 - Soil Biology -
12 - Biodynamics explained (preparations, planting calendar, rhythms) -
13 - Source of Biodynamic Preparations Earth Legacy Agriculture LLC
14 - Biodynamic Preparations Explained - Biodynamic Preparations


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