According to a new study, the wine industry in Virginia is now worth almost three-quarters of a billion dollars. What’s even more impressive is that the figure has more than doubled in the last five years, from $362 million to $747 million, this whilst the country has faced one of its worst economic recessions.
While unemployment soared nationally, in Virginia, the number of wine industry jobs increased from 3,162 to 4,753 between 2005 and 2010. Most industry growth came from the addition of small wineries producing less than 10,000 gallons per year. As wineries increased in quantity, so did the number of tourists visiting them; the number of employees and the amount of wages paid.
Annette Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Board, told Wines & Vines she is very pleased with the results. “We knew that there would be an increase in growth, but we didn’t know by how much. We’ve had three years of double-digit growth, and we know that we need to have more people growing grapes.”
If you caught some of my posts last July (2011), you’ll know I headed to Virginia for my first ever Wine Bloggers Conference (NB: yes it’s a “thing”).
I’m not going to lie, I was a little skeptical about tasting the vino in Virginia. I’m all about wines that are “off the beaten path”; but up until that point, I’d tasted very little domestic wines outside of California, New York and Washington, that were worth writing home about.
I do have to say I was sizably impressed with what Virginia had to offer! Sure there were some duds in the bunch, but it seems like the vast majority of wineries have made some huge strides in their wine production, with Viognier and Cabernet Franc representing some of the more noteworthy grapes.