Tourists now flocking by the millions to Virginia’s wineries

Economic impact of Virginia wines almost doubles to record highs

If there was ever reason to raise a glass to Virginia wineries it is now.

Word from Richmond is that Virginia’s burgeoning wine industry now contributes more than $1.37 billion annually to the state’s economy, an increase of 82 percent from 2010. In fact, almost all major economic drivers examined in a new comprehensive economic impact study of Virginia wineries showed significant double digit growth.

Photo by John McCaslin
Rappahannock County is home to several wineries and vineyards, including these beautiful grapevines seen here last summer on Rock Mills Road next to the Flatwood Refuse & Recycling Center.

The Economic Impact Study of Wine and Wine Grapes on the Commonwealth of Virginia, which was completed last month by Frank, Rimmerman and Co., a national accounting firm that specializes in the wine industry studies, was commissioned by the Virginia Wine Board.

It is the first economic impact study of the Virginia wine industry since 2012.

Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2016 with more than 556,700 cases, or more than 6.6 million bottles sold. This volume marks a sales increase of more than 6 percent over the previous fiscal year.

From 2010 and 2015, the number of wineries increased 35 percent, from 193 to 261. The number of full-time equivalent jobs at wineries and vineyards saw a 73 percent increase, from 4,753 to 8,218. Wages from jobs at wineries and vineyards increased 87 percent during the same time period as well, from $156 million, to $291 million.

Photo by John McCaslin
Thomas Jefferson would be proud to know that 210 years after his 1807.

Tourism to Virginia wineries also showed impressive growth. The number of people visiting wineries grew by 39 percent, from 1.6 million visitors in 2010 to 2.25 million visitors in 2015. At the same time, wine-related tourism expenditures grew dramatically from $131 million to $188 million, a significant 43 percent increase. The study attributes the growth of tourism to these factors: the increase in the number of wineries and the growing quality of the wines.

“Since the beginning of my administration, one of our top agriculture goals was to make Virginia the preeminent East Coast destination for wine and winery tourism, and I am pleased our efforts are helping make this a reality,” says Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. “The Virginia wine industry has continued to see tremendous growth over last five years, which has bolstered tourism across the Commonwealth.

“This new study shows that this growth is being driven by small wineries, which demonstrates that the increased rural economic development is truly beneficial to local communities. I commend our Virginia wineries and grape growers for their hard work in making world-class wines that are driving this success and building the new Virginia economy.”

“The Virginia wine industry continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of Virginia’s diverse agricultural industry,” adds Basil I. Gooden, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.


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