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First Lady celebrates Wine and Dine Month

Virginia wine month

Maureen McDonnell and Patrick Duffeler, Founder and CEO of Williamsburg Winery. Photo courtesy of the Govenor's office.

Virginia wine’s “Person of the Year” is out and about celebrating Love by the Glass. Her office reports:

RICHMOND – First Lady Maureen McDonnell visited New Kent Winery and Williamsburg Winery yesterday as part of her First Lady’s Initiative Team Effort (FLITE) to promote Virginia wines and winery tourism during the Commonwealth’s annual “Love by the Glass” – Virginia Wine & Dine Month.  In addition to visiting the two wineries, the First Lady’s visit to Williamsburg Winery also featured wines by James River Cellars, Saudé Creek Vineyards, Ingleside Vineyards, Chatham Vineyards at an afternoon reception at Williamsburg’s Wedmore Place.

Speaking to yesterday’s FLITE tour, First Lady McDonnell said, “The Governor and I are thrilled to work directly with the Virginia wine industry to help make our Commonwealth the premier East Coast destination for wine and wine tourism.  The success of VA’s wine industry starts with our winery owners and wine makers.  They are the ones making tremendous investments and outstanding wines that are attracting people from all over Virginia, the nation, and the world – all resulting in job creation and economic development opportunities.  I’m honored to be a part of these efforts and look forward to leading more FLITE tours to our wineries later in the year.”

During Wednesday’s visits to New Kent and Williamsburg Wineries, the First Lady hosted more than thirty Virginia wine shop owners, restaurant proprietors and general managers, grocery store wine purchasers, sommeliers, chefs, wine critics and others.  In addition to promoting Virginia wine and winery tourism, FLITE also highlights the growing importance of Virginia’s burgeoning wine industry as an economic development catalyst in Virginia’s rural communities. This is the sixth FLITE tour of Virginia wineries that the First Lady has hosted since 2010.  FLITE tours later in 2012 will focus on the Charlottesville and Northern Virginia wine producing regions.

Raising the profile of Virginia wines and wine tourism are key components of Governor Bob McDonnell’s economic development and jobs creation initiatives and the First Lady’s FLITE.  The Governor and First Lady have promoted Virginia wines at the Virginia Executive Mansion and throughout Virginia, on domestic business recruitment visits, and on international trade and marketing missions to Great Britain, China, South Korea, Israel and India.  More domestic and international marketing promotions are planned for 2012.

The First Lady’s FLITE recognizes Virginia programs, activities, organizations, or individuals who are taking the opportunity to leave Virginia a better place than they found it.  FLITE recognizes achievement within the First Lady’s four key focus areas:  preventive health and wellness; economic development, with a specific focus on the Virginia wine, film, and tourism Industries; military families; and women.

Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2011 with more than 462,000 cases, or more than 5.5 million bottles, sold.  This volume marks a sales increase of more than 11 percent over the previous fiscal year. Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with 210.  Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer.  According to a recently released economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 people and contributes almost $750 million annually to Virginia’s economy.  For more information about the “Love by the Glass” – Virginia Wine and Dine Month, the Virginia wine industry, events, tours and tastings, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at  or call 804‐344‐8200.

Listed below are brief overviews of the wineries that participated in yesterday’s FLITE visit:

New Kent Winery is located in New Kent County between Richmond and Williamsburg.

Williamsburg Winery is located in Williamsburg and is recognized as one of Virginia’s largest wineries.

James River Cellars is located in Glen Allen in Hanover County.

Saudé Creek Vineyards is located in Lanexa in New Kent County.

Ingleside Vineyards is located in Oak Grove on Virginia’s Northern Neck.

Chatham Vineyards is located Machipongo on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.