How important is wine to Virginia? About three-quarters-of-a-billion important.
A new study released Thursday by Gov. Bob McDonnel l concluded that Virginia’s wine industry contributed $747 million to the Commonwealth’s economy in 2010. That’s up from $362 million in 2005, the last time the state conducted such a study. The increase outpaces even the stunning growth among Virginia’s wineries — from 129 in 2005 to 193 in 2010.
The idea of Virginia as wine country seems to be catching on, too. In 2005, about 1 million people visited Virginia wineries, spending about $57 million. Five years later, 1.62 million visitors flexed their credit cards to the tune of $131 million, the study noted.
The study, by Frank, Rimerman + Co., a nationally recognized accounting and consulting firm that specializes in the wine industry, was commissioned by the Virginia Wine Board and completed in January 2011. It provides concrete evidence to justify the efforts McDonnell and his agriculture secretary, Todd Haymore, have put into promoting Virginia wine as an economic engine for the state.
Some more conclusions from the study:
* The number of full-time equivalent jobs at wineries and vineyards rose from 3,162 in 2005 to 4,753 in 2010, a 50 percent increase, and wages from jobs at wineries and vineyards increased from $84 million to $156 million, an 86 percent increase, during the same time period.
* The number of grape growers climbed from 262 to 386, a 47 percent increase. The number of grape-bearing acres increased from 2,000 in 2005 to 2,700 in 2010, a 35 percent climb. The amount of taxes paid to the state and local governments grew from $21 million to $43 million, a 105 percent increase.
* 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.
“American wine” is growing. “Local wine” is no longer a novelty. “Wine country” is here.