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Governor McAuliffe Announces Virginia Wine Grape Harvest Increases 17%

~ Commonwealth Sees Second Largest Wine Grape Harvest on New Plantings, Solid 2014 Growing Season ~

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that the Virginia 2014 wine grape harvest increased just over 17 percent from the previous year’s harvest with 8,039 tons, up from 6,862 tons, according to the new production report.  The 2014 wine grape harvest in Virginia is second only to the 2009 harvest, when just more than 8,600 tons were produced.

Speaking about the newly released 2014 Virginia Commercial Grape report, Governor McAuliffe stated, “The Virginia wine industry is growing and the numbers reflect this upward movement.  With sales increasing steadily over the last few years and interest about our wine industry growing along the East Coast, the United Kingdom, China and other markets, we must plant more grapevines, increase harvests, and produce more wine to meet that demand.  Doing so will help the wine industry continue to grow and provide more opportunities, especially in rural areas, as we work to build a new Virginia economy.”

The 2014 Virginia Commercial Grape report, released by the Virginia Wine Board at its annual two-day meeting Charlottesville, shows double digit percentage growth in the number of tons of wine grapes produced in Vinifera, Hybrid and American grape categories, and significant growth in non-bearing acres of Vinefera grapes.  Bearing acres increased by 56 acres, or two percent, over 2013 figures.  A bearing acre is one that has matured and is producing fruit for harvest.  It usually takes two to three years for an acre to become fruit bearing.  Non-bearing acres, or acres that are newly planted and not yet bearing fruit for harvest, grew by 67 acres, a 19 percent increase over 2013 figures.

Overall wine grape production increased by 17 percent, due to growth in new bearing acres and an improved 2014 growing season versus the previous two seasons.  By comparison, the 2012 and 2013 harvest numbers were depressed by a variety of factors, including frosts and an unusually cold winter in 2013 that damaged some vineyards.

“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,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.  “The growth in wine sales is outpacing wine grape production figures and that is a trend that must be addressed.  However, grape growing is a unique and labor intensive endeavor that requires the right site selection and investment.  Virginia’s wine advocacy organizations are assisting vineyard owners with planting analysis with the evaluation effort and the Commonwealth has several tools, including the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) fund and the Winery and Vineyard Tax Credit program, to incentivize new production.  We’re hopeful that these efforts and others will spark new production in 2015 and beyond.”

Strong growth in the number of bearing or non-bearing acres was recorded for several grape varieties in localities across the state including Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay, among others.  Comparative data for bearing and non-bearing acreage, in addition to county specific data can be found at http://www.virginiawine.org/grape_reports.

Since fiscal year 2010 when a number of state initiatives were launched, sales of Virginia wines have increased by approximately 26 percent.  From fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2014, sales grew by only two percent, marking the smallest increase during the last few years as a result of a limited supply of fruit.  The Virginia Wine Board’s strategic plan, Beyond 2015: A Blueprint for Virginia Wine, 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.  Virginia is also 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.  In addition, more than 1.6 million tourists visited Virginia wineries in 2013.

For more information about the Virginia wine industry, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at www.virginiawine.org/ or call 8043448200.

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