The Banner Elk Winery, which opened in 2006, has, at 4,800 feet, the highest vineyard in the Eastern United States. The winery is co-owned by Richard Wolfe, Angelo Accetturo and Pete and Michelle Gerukos. Wolfe, who directs the Applied Science and Research Program at Appalachian State University, received a grant to start a vineyard at 4,800 feet. At first people laughed, but there are now thirty-two vineyards growing cold-hardy grapes in Avery and Watauga counties which the winery uses. The winery has been awarded a number of medals in competitions, such as the 2013 International Eastern Wine Competition in Sonoma County, California.