RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia's growing wine industry seems to be bearing fruit, according to an economic impact study released by Gov. Bob McDonnell's office Thursday.
Between 2005 and 2010, the wine industry's economic impact has more than doubled to nearly $750 million in contributions to the state's economy every year. During that time, the number of wineries has increased from about 130 to nearly 200 and the number of full-time jobs at wineries and vineyards rose from about 3,160 in 2005 to more than 4,750 in 2010.
"The Virginia wine industry has seen tremendous growth over last few years," McDonnell said in a statement. "From beautiful new wineries starting up to more and more retail outlets and restaurants adding our wines to their shelves and menus, the growth has been very evident even to the casual observer."
Sales of Virginia wine also increased more than 11 percent in fiscal year 2011 to a record high of more than more than 5.5 million bottles sold.
The study also shows the relationship between tourism and the wine industry, as the number of wine-related tourists visiting Virginia increased from 1 million in 2005 to 1.62 million in 2010. Spending related to winery tourism also increased from $57 million in 2005 to $131 million in 2010.
Promoting the bouquet of Virginia's wine industry has been an important part of McDonnell's economic development initiatives. His office said Virginia wine has been at the center of events at the Virginia Executive Mansion, at business meetings and on international trade and marketing missions to India, Israel, and countries in Europe and Asia.
Officials expect the industry to continue to grow in Virginia, which was named as one of the top 10 wine travel destinations for 2012 by Wine Enthusiast magazine.
The state also will play host to the Wineries Unlimited trade show — one of the largest industry shows — in March, and Virginia officials have revamped the Virginia Governor's Cup annual wine competition to raise the profile of the industry and winery tourism.
Virginia's wine industry also has seen some recent celebrity interest, with real estate mogul and reality television figure Donald Trump opening up Trump Vineyard Estates in Albemarle County in September. He purchased the 770-acre winery and the equipment on it near Charlottesville from former socialite Patricia Kluge and her husband after the bank foreclosed on their business.
At the formal opening at the estate in the rolling foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Trump said: "We are building and will continue to build something, I think, that will continue to put Virginia on the map in terms of wines and champagnes and everything."