Virginia wine grape harvest grows by 17 percent
Virginia’s wine grape harvest grew by 17 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the latest Virginia Commercial Grape report released by the Virginia Wine Board.
The 2014 wine grave harvest was 8,039 tons, up from 6,862 tons. According to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office, the 2014 production level is second only to the 2009 harvest, when slightly over 8,600 tons of wine grapes were produced.
The production is due to growth in new bearing acres and a better 2014 growing season. McAuliffe’s office says the 2012 and 2013 harvest numbers were lower due to various reasons, including frosts and an unusually cold winter in 2013 that damaged some vineyards.
From fiscal year 2010 when a number of state initiatives began, sales of Virginia wines have increased by about 26 percent. From 2013 to 2014, sales grew by only two percent — marking the smallest increase during the last few years — due to a limited supply of fruit.
“Although Virginia wines are garnering global acclaim and sales continue to grow, the industry’s greatest challenge is to plant more vines to meet the increased product demand,” Todd Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry, said in a statement. “The growth in wine sales is outpacing wine grape production figures and that is a trend that must be addressed.”
To help wine grape production grow, the state is using tools like the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) fund and the Winery and Vineyard Tax Credit program. The Virginia Wine Board’s strategic plan, Beyond 2015: A Blueprint for Virginia Wine, also identifies planting new vineyards as a major objective for the Virginia wine industry to continue its growth.
Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with more than 255. The commonwealth also is the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer.
According to a 2011 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis.