McAuliffe announces October as Virginia Wine Month

va wine monthGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced that October is Virginia Wine Month, offering visitors a chance to discover that Virginia is a wine destination unlike any other.  In addition to producing world-class wines, Virginia boasts lavish scenery, breathtaking views, quaint small towns, and monumental historic sites from just over 3,100 acres of winery and vineyard locations, seven American Viticultural Areas, and nearly two dozen wine trails.

“The Virginia wine industry has grown tremendously since the first October Virginia Wine Month proclamation was issued by then-Governor Gerald Baliles in 1988,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Sales of Virginia wines reached another new record level during the last fiscal year, but we want to see more sales and more visitors to our wineries in the future.  The continued growth of Virginia’s wine industry, one of the faster growing sectors of Virginia agriculture, is a priority for my administration as we work to build a new Virginia economy.”

October Virginia Wine Month kicked-off today with the unveiling of a new “LOVE” artwork at DuCard Vineyards, located in Etlan in Madison County.  Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office, and Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry helped to unveil the custom-designed piece, created by noted local metal sculptor Tomas Fernandez.  Located at the entrance to DuCard Vineyards’ mountainside setting at the edge of Shenandoah National Park, north of Charlottesville, the eight foot wide artwork features cobalt blue wine bottles intertwined in pewter grey metal grapevines, leaves and tendrils.

“With wine sales at a new all-time high and more people visiting our wineries than ever before, Virginia is becoming the premiere East Coast destination for wine and wine tourism lovers,” said Secretary Todd Haymore. “Today’s unveiling is the first of many exciting events during this year’s October Virginia Wine Month encouraging people to celebrate our wine history and heritage, enjoy Virginia wines, as well as raise a glass to the future of Virginia winemaking.”

Earlier this week, Governor McAuliffe announced that sales of Virginia wine continued solid growth in fiscal year 2014 when Virginia wineries sold more than 521,000 cases of wine, or approximately 6.25 bottles. This represents an almost 2% climb in sales from fiscal year 2013, when Virginia wineries sold just over 511,000 cases.  Sales of Virginia wines have increased by almost 26% since fiscal year 2010.

“Today’s event allowed visitors to discover their local crush in a big way by witnessing the unveiling of DuCard’s LOVE artwork, part of a statewide program launched by Virginia is for Lovers,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “This October, we invite visitors and Virginians alike to discover why Virginia is for Wine Lovers ®.”

Virginia Tourism Corporation’s LOVEworks campaign is an homage to the state’s 45-year-old slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers.” The Commonwealth currently boasts more than 40 unique LOVE artworks in every corner of the state and an additional ten are under construction. Visitors are encouraged to take photos of themselves in front of the LOVEworks and share on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Currently, visitors have shared more than 1,000 photos on Virginia Tourism’s Facebook and Twitter pages, using the hashtag #LOVEVA. Wine loving travelers can now visit DuCard Vineyards, Cardinal Point Winery and Veritas Vineyards to share the LOVE at each winery’s iconic LOVEwork, using the hashtags #LOVEVA and #VaWine.

“We are delighted to be a part of the LOVEworks program” says Scott Elliff of DuCard Vineyards.  “Our limited production wines are handcrafted with love and sold only here at our Madison County tasting room, so this artwork really complements the passion and philosophy of our entire operation.”

For many wine lovers, October Virginia Wine month is the best time of year to visit Virginia wine country, when the vineyards and wineries are creating their next great vintage and celebrating with dozens of special events and activities. From the coastal serenity of the Eastern Shore to the majestic splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains, each wine region provides travelers with a one-of-a-kind wine experience. Virginia is one of the only wine destinations in the country where visitors can kayak to a winery, enjoy bluegrass music while sipping local wines, sample regional wines at a National Park, or enjoy wine at a National Historic Landmark.

Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with more than 250.  Virginia is also the nation’s fifth largest wine grape producer.  According to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 people 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 according the Virginia Tourism Corporation.  For more information on October Virginia Wine Month and a full list of activities around the state, go to virginia.org/winemonth.

Virginia has been listed as one of the best wine travel destinations in numerous media outlets including Wine Enthusiast, USA Today, Food & Wine Magazine and the Washington Post, noting the state’s picturesque landscapes and friendly winemakers set Virginia apart as an excellent wine destination.  Visit virginia.org/wine to learn more about wine travel in Virginia or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free, Virginia is for Lovers travel guide and start planning a trip to Virginia.  LOVE is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. For more information, please visit www.virginia.org.

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