Virginia wine sales reach new record high in fiscal year 2015

L_102910-cals-wineGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced on Tuesday that sales of Virginia wine continued their pattern of growth during fiscal year 2015 and reached another record level, increasing by almost two percent from fiscal year 2014.  Virginia wineries sold more than 524,000 cases of wine, or over 6.5 million bottles, in fiscal year 2015 versus a little more than 515,000 the previous year (revised figure from final 2014 fiscal year data).  Sales of Virginia wine have increased by 26 percent since fiscal year 2010.

In addition, the Virginia Wine Marketing Office tracked the sales of Virginia ciders separately from Virginia wines for the first time and the results reflect soaring national trends in cider sales.  During fiscal year 2015, more than 496,000 cases of Virginia cider were sold, an increase of more than 200 percent from fiscal year 2014 when approximately 164,000 cases were sold.

“I’m pleased to see continued sales growth for our wines and ciders in Virginia, which means more jobs and revenue across the Commonwealth, especially in our rural areas where most of our wineries and cideries are located,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “This growth is especially heartening as Virginia wineries are increasing vineyard plantings to meet increased demand for our wines.  In addition, Virginia’s burgeoning cider industry, along with its very impressive sales growth, is a new shining star in our diverse agricultural economy.  Indeed, both craft beverage sectors, along with craft beer and distilled spirits industries, are playing an important role in my administration’s work with the private sector to build a new Virginia economy”

According to figures from the Virginia Wine Marketing Office and the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, total sales of Virginia wine amounted to more than $1.9 million in wine liter tax collections during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.  The Virginia wine liter tax is applied at a rate of $3.60 per case of wine.  In addition, Virginia wine sales at wineries increased 6.3% percent.  The increase indicates solid growth of visitors and tourists to Virginia wineries and to Virginia wine events.  However, other segments of Virginia wines sales remain flat due to the previous year’s limited grape production as wineries focus sales to meet growing demand.

“Virginia’s wine and cider industries are a source of pride and they are bringing more national and international attention, tourists, and revenue to the Commonwealth as we build a new Virginia economy.” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore.  “For 2015, Bloomberg News named Virginia as one of the ‘next big wine regions’– citing our rich history, natural beauty, and outstanding winemakers.  In addition, Virginia wines were reviewed in Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate in July with almost 60 wines receiving a score of 90 or greater.  These accolades are well-deserved and will help our wineries and cideries, working in close partnership with the Virginia Wine Marketing Office and the Virginia Tourism Corporation, to capture more opportunities in the future, especially as the wine industry responds to its greatest challenge by planting more grapevines to meet growing demand.”

Last year’s wine grape harvest 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 2012 that damaged several vineyards.  These production increases will take time to affect sales as wines are processed and aged prior to sale.

Virginia ciders are currently experiencing explosive growth and national industry analysts expect continued solid growth in this sector for the next three to five years.  Virginia ciders are increasing in all market segments, including direct sales and distribution to other states and internationally.  Virginia currently has 18 cideries and is tied with Massachusetts at seventh for number of cideries.  Virginia’s first cidery, Foggy Ridge Cider in Carroll County, established its orchards in 1998 and opened for business in 2006.  Since then, Virginia cideries have been opening at a steady pace.  In Virginia, cideries are licensed as farm wineries and their economic data is included in Virginia winery economic impact studies.

Virginia currently ranks fifth in the number of wineries in the nation with more than 275.  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 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 2014 according to the Virginia Tourism Cooperation.

For more information about the Virginia wine industry, please visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office’s website at www.virginiawine.org/or call 804‐344‐8200.

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