Sales of Virginia wine reach all-time high
During a visit to the Eastern Shore’s Chatham Vineyards on his “This Commonwealth of Opportunity” tour this week, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced that sales of Virginia wine reached another all-time high in Fiscal Year 2013, increasing by more than 5 percent from FY2012. Virginia wineries sold over 511,000 cases of wine in FY13 versus almost 485,000, the previous record high, in FY12 according to newly available sales figures compiled by the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) and the Virginia Wine Marketing Office. Since FY2010, when almost 415,000 cases were sold, sales of Virginia wines have increased by more than 23 percent.
Speaking about the new sales record while at Chatham Vineyards, McDonnell said, “At the beginning of my administration, I pledged to work with the Virginia wine industry to make the Commonwealth the East Coast capital for wine and wine tourism. Today’s announcement is further proof that we’re well on our way to reaching that goal. Sales have reached a new record high and tourism to our wineries continues to grow. With the outstanding product being produced by our grape growers and wine makers, it’s no surprise that more and more people are buying Virginia wines and experiencing our wineries and vineyards. I’m pleased our administration’s focus on promoting Virginia wines and wine tourism both here and abroad is helping the Commonwealth’s wine industry to grow and expand. From serving only Virginia wines at the Executive Mansion to marketing them during all domestic and international trade missions, we have taken every step possible to help create new sales and generate more jobs and economic opportunities all across the Commonwealth.”
In-state sales of Virginia wine increased by almost 3 percent from FY12 to FY13, while wine sales through Virginia wineries increased by approximately 6 percent during the same period, indicating increased interest in visiting Virginia wineries. Wine sales to distributors outside of Virginia increased by more than 60 percent from FY12 to FY13. Today, Virginia wines are being sold in numerous states including Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Washington, D.C., one of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s top strategic growth regions. In addition, Virginia wineries sold more wine out of state, directly or through a wholesale distributor, and internationally during the most recent fiscal year. Specifically, these sales increased by 69 percent from FY12 to FY13.
Specific to exports, international sales of Virginia wines grew by more than 74 percent, increasing from just over 3,300 cases in FY12 to more than 5,800 in FY13. A significant portion of the international sales were driven by new sales to China, an area where the McDonnell administration has focused its global marketing and export growth strategic plans. The first commercial sales of Virginia wines to mainland China were completed in FY12 and new export agreements have been reached since then, including several facilitated during Governor McDonnell’s trade missions to China in 2011 and 2013. Sales of Virginia wines to Great Britain and London, the world’s largest wine import market, continued to grow during the last fiscal year as well. The McDonnell administration and the Virginia Wine Marketing Office have focused heavily on marketing to this region as well.
“The continued impressive sales growth of Virginia wine starts with our growers and wine makers, who are creating wines that more and more people want to enjoy,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. “From Wine Enthusiast naming Virginia a top ten global wine destination last year to the recent multi-page features in the New York Times and Decanter, the Virginia wine industry also is garnering more well-deserved attention in the global marketplace. The Governor, First Lady, and I have been proud to partner with the industry, as well as our colleagues at the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to promote our outstanding wines around the country and world over the last three years. This strategic focus has led to new sales and opportunities for our wineries, and we expect that we’ll see continued growth in the years to come.”
According to figures from ABC, total sales of Virginia wine amounted to more than $1.7 million in wine liter tax collections during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013. The Virginia wine liter tax is applied at a rate of $3.60 per case of wine. This is the second fiscal year that the Virginia Wine Marketing Office is capturing Virginia wine sales outside of the Commonwealth that are not captured in ABC figures.
Domestic and international promotion of the Virginia wine industry is one of Governor McDonnell’s top economic development and jobs creation initiatives. Since 2010, the McDonnell administration worked with the General Assembly to establish a reimbursable tax credit program for the establishment or expansion of vineyards and wineries and to almost triple the amount of funds placed in the Virginia Wine Promotion Fund for research, education, and marketing programs. Governor McDonnell also promotes the sale of Virginia wines in Virginia, around the country, and during multiple trade and marketing missions to Europe, Canada, Israel, India, and Asia. The Governor also launched the first ever Virginia Wine Summit in October 2012 where world famous wine connoisseur Steven Spurrier served as the keynote speaker. In addition, First Lady Maureen McDonnell makes the promotion of Virginia wines and winery tourism a component of the First Lady’s Initiative Team Effort (FLITE). This focus on Virginia wine was furthered in late June when the Governor and First Lady unveiled the historic bicentennial-themed blended red wine, ‘1813.’
Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with more than 230. Virginia is also tied with Texas as the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producing states. According to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 individuals and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. In addition, more than 1.6 million tourists, a record high, visited Virginia wineries in 2011.