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Cherry Co. Vintners Partner to Grow Roots in Rural Nebraska
Nebraska Ag Connection - 09/28/2022

Just over a mile south of rural Nenzel, members of a five-generation family serve as vintners and visionaries in north central Nebraska. Specialty wines at Niobrara Valley Vineyards tell the story of the Nollette family's ranching roots. Cowgirl Blush and Sweetheart Red are just two of NVV's wines that portray their life in the Sandhills since the turn of the 20th century.

More than 100 years later, the Nollette's are expanding their company's footprint with an expansion project. This week, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley helped celebrate the project's groundbreaking with Gregory and Cindy Nollette, Cherry County officials, members of the Central Nebraska Economic Development District (CNEDD) and the Department of Economic Development (DED). A new campsite, walking paths and restrooms are part of the $736,089 project, which will include assistance from a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Tourism Development. Program funding is facilitated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by DED.

"Gov. Ricketts and DED Dir. Goins appreciate the opportunity to collaborate on projects designed to showcase why we choose to call Nebraska home," Lt. Gov. Foley said. "The story of Niobrara Valley Vineyards started with an entrepreneurial family's vision to welcome visitors to our state. Cherry County and CNEDD leaders brought tourism dollars to the table for this project, which solidified efforts to invigorate development in this region."

In addition to the ongoing development of infrastructure and amenities on the property, the $385,039 CDBG fund will create Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility. The funding assistance will create two full-time jobs for low to moderate income employees. The employees will assist with an influx of new tourists and provide staffing for the winery's new tasting room and event center, which will be funded through private investments.

"Public and private partnerships are often a cornerstone of tourism development in our state and encourage Nebraskans to play a role in regional growth," said CDBG Manager Steve Charleston. "The CDBG-Tourism Development program has become increasingly competitive over the past several years and has helped fund projects in other Nebraska communities, such as Gothenburg, Hastings and Ogallala. We are anxious to help facilitate similar growth in Cherry County through NVV's expansion."

The growing winery has received numerous accolades among industry leaders. Since 2016, NVV has received awards from the Mid-American, Indy International and International Cold Climate wine competitions. That recognition, and the Nollette's home grown hospitality, draw more than 5,000 visitors every year.

The CDBG-Tourism Development program requires visitation from 2,500 people per year. The program also helps fund historic restorations, scientific and educational interpretive sites, cultural and heritage sites, and facilitates the removal of architectural barriers.

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