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Growth in wineries leads to NCC program

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ Winemaker Michael Vorauer has helped Folino Estate to grow substantially as a vineyard.

Folino Estate in Berks County became a winery last year the hard way: on its own.

Folino Estate in Berks County became a winery last year the hard way: on its own.

The good news is that there is now a different option for others who are looking to start a vineyard: Northampton Community College this month is starting a new wine-specialist certificate program.

The Folino family opened Folino Estate, a vineyard, winery and restaurant on 54 acres in Greenwich Township where the family had intended to build a housing development. Although the family had some involvement with restaurants, its main industry is homebuilding and it had no experience starting or running a winery.

Without a resource such as NCC’s new Wine Specialist Certificate Program, the family had to learn on its own, through the Internet and with the help of other winemakers. The Folinos, in fact, hired Michael Vorauer, a winemaker from Adams County, who has helped them to develop a quickly growing winery.

While the vines are still growing – they hope for their first grape harvest this fall – the Folinos are selling wine from purchased grapes about as fast as they can make it.

“We’ve been growing a lot faster than we anticipated,” said Andrea Folino, managing partner of the business. “We’re definitely going to need to hire more staff.”

Folino Estate’s growth is hardly a singular story in the region.

Pennsylvania boasts 220 wineries, a dramatic jump from just 16 years ago, when it had 64, said Jennifer Eckinger, executive director of the Pennsylvania Winery Association.

“Each year, we see at least 10 new wineries in Pennsylvania, and there are still more in the works,” she said.

In addition to that, many of the first 64 have dramatically increased in size in recent years – some even going from annually producing 3,000 gallons of wine to more than 30,000.

Stacy Wescoe
Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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