While most of the time these columns are about wineries and more culinary trends involving wine in Virginia, I believe it is important that the effect the wine industry has had on the economy of our Commonwealth be made known.

On February 2, 2012, Governor McDonnell’s office issued a press release concerning the study, The Economic Impact of Wine and Wine Grapes on the State of Virginia – 2010, commissioned by the Virginia Wine Board.  The very next day, Todd P. Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, presented it to a convention of the Virginia Vineyard Association at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In short, the facts and figures released show the phenomenal growth and impact this industry has had.  According to the study, the wine industry contributes $747,000,000.00 dollars (almost three quarters of a billion dollars) annually to the Virginia economy representing a 106 percent increase over the $361,834,000 that was shown in the last impact study in 2005.  In addition, in a time when unemployment is quite an issue, jobs in the Virginia wine industry have grown by 50 percent from 3,162 in 2005 to 4,753 in 2010.  This increase in employment stimulated an 86 percent increase in wages from $84 million dollars to $156 million over the same time period.

At the end of 2010, Virginia was ranked number twelve in the country with 193 wineries.  Currently, the Commonwealth is number five in the nation with 210 wineries, producing 462,000 cases, or 5.5 million bottles of wine, which is a record high.  It should be noted that Virginia is the fifth largest producer of wine grapes in the nation.

Speaking of grape production (not to be confused with wine production, I am referring to vineyards), the number of grape growers grew by 47 per cent from 262 to 386 between 2005 and 2010 with the number of grape bearing acres of land increasing from 2000 in 2005 to 2700 in 2010, or approximately a 35 per cent rate of growth.

Two of the most important figures concerning the impact of the wine and vineyard industry are taxes and tourism in the state.  Tax revenue in 2010 was almost $43 million dollars, an encouragement to our General Assembly to increase the investment of tax credits to growers of more than just a paltry $250,000 (that is right, $250,000 for a $43 million return, nice investment).

Wine Enthusiast Magazine, in a fall 2011 issue, listed Virginia as one of the top ten tourism places to see for those interested in wine and wineries.  This was international in scope, with the state going up against many well known sites.  Wine related tourists in Virginia have increased from 1 million in 2005 to 1.62 million in 2010, or an increase of 62 per cent.  

These facts and figures, in a time when many face hard times in a difficult economy, are quite an encouragement concerning the state of our Commonwealth and the contribution that the wine industry has made towards improving it.   

The information in this column were taken from two sources:
    Press release from the Office of Governor Bob McDonnell, dated February 2, 2012.
    THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF WINE AND WINE GRAPES ON THE STATE OF VIRGINIA-2010  by Frank, Rimmerman + Co. LLP,  updated February, 2012 and commissioned by the Virginia Wine Board

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