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$16.1 million gift to N.C. State bolsters viticulture and enology program

July 06, 2009

Media Contact: David Hays, executive director, N.C. Landscapes of Opportunity, N.C. Agricultural Foundation, Inc., 910.977.4297

Note to editors: The official signing ceremony, which includes establishment of the endowments, wine tasting and hors d'oeuvres, will be held July 11 at The Cellars at Betty's Creek in Sylva, N.C. News media are invited to attend. For more information, contact Sarah Ray at 919.515.9263 or

The owners of The Cellars at Betty's Creek have recently proposed to donate land valued at $16.1 million to North Carolina State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The initial gift of $1.6 million in sellable lots will allow the creation and funding of an endowed professorship, an endowed apprenticeship and a North Carolina Cooperative Extension program endowment. Also included in the proposal is a suggested 525-acre conservation easement with an estimated value of $14.5 million.

Christopher Collins, John McNeill, and Fred and Nancy Cline, owners of The Cellars at Betty's Creek, are known for their ecologically sound and sustainable business practices in the development process and in wine production. Their new residential development in the mountains of Western North Carolina, The Cellars at Betty's Creek, is an exclusive 600-acre gated community with 33 home sites. Approximately 525 acres are proposed to be permanently preserved under a conservation easement.

With wine production being overseen by Fred and Nancy Cline of Cline Cellars and Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma, Calif., The Cellars at Betty's Creek combines property ownership with a vineyard setting, as well as private-labeled wines.

In recognition of their relationship and in conjunction with the Clines, Collins and McNeill have established a permanent endowed fund at N.C. State that will support a professorship, an apprenticeship and a new Cooperative Extension program, all focused on viticulture and enology.

"We want to honor the Cline/Jacuzzi family legacies of producing upscale, award-winning wines by supporting viticulture and enology work taking place at a great land-grant university like N.C. State," said Collins and McNeill.

The endowment fund will establish:

- The Cline Cellars Distinguished Professorship in Viticulture and Enology, supporting a preeminent scholar in N.C. State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences who contributes to the field of viticulture and/or enology through applied research and extension programs.

- The Cline Cellars Viticulture/Enology Apprenticeship and Internship Endowment, which will fund the activities of an N.C. State graduate student working in the area of viticulture and/or enology. The position will include academic training, research on applied problems and a full semester plus summer internship with industry representatives in California or Western Europe.

- The Cline Cellars Viticulture, Enology and Horticulture Endowment for Cooperative Extension, which will be used to support extension agents in Jackson and surrounding counties who will work closely with the distinguished professor and extension specialists in the areas of viticulture, enology, organic fruits and vegetables, food science, soil science, crop science, plant pathology and entomology. Extension agents will provide demonstration projects and conduct field days and other public educational programs.

"We are extremely grateful to the owners of The Cellars at Betty's Creek for this generous and forward-thinking contribution to our college, and by extension of our work, to the entire state of North Carolina," said Dr. Johnny C. Wynne, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "The new positions and programs made possible by this gift will have the potential to play a major role in accelerating the growth of the state's burgeoning wine and grape industry."

The proposed conservation easement would be managed by the N.C. Agricultural Foundation Inc., based in N.C. State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in partnership with the Land Trust for Little Tennessee.

For more information on N.C. State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, click here. To learn more about The Cellars at Betty's Creek, click here.

Written by:
Suzanne Stanard, 919-513-3126 or

Posted by Suzanne at July 6, 2009 05:21 PM