The streak continues: 2014 a record for Virginia wine
Well, I'll cheers to that.
The 2014 fiscal year in Virginia was yet another record-setter for the commonwealth’s wine industry, with well more than 6 million bottles, or 521,000 cases, sold.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), state agriculture officials and Virginia Wine Marketing officials announced the feat in late September, setting the table for an electric Virginia Wine Month in October, featuring the estimable Virginia Wine Summit in Richmond Oct. 21
Fiscal 2014 is the third consecutive year a new Virginia vin record has been set, following 511,000 cases sold in 2013 and 485,000 in 2012. Since 2010, sales of Virginia wine have increased 25 percent, according to the governor's office.
“Our wine industry continues to be a source of pride within Virginia’s diversified agricultural economy,” Todd Haymore, the state's Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, said in a statement. “From being recognized as a top wine producing region by globally-renowned wine critic Oz Clarke to having our wines sold in London, San Francisco, New York City and Beijing, the last fiscal year saw both new acclaim and sales opportunities for the Virginia wine industry.”
But Haymore was quick to touch on a mantra oft-repeated by Virginia vintners and state wine advocates – “grapes in the ground, grapes in the ground.”
“Our biggest challenge at this time,” Haymore said, “is to get more grape vines planted to meet the increased demand for our products both at home and abroad.”
A sizable dose of the half-million-plus cases no doubt came from Loudoun, which is home to more than 40 wineries – more than any county in Virginia.
Ben Renshaw, owner and winemaker at 8 Chains North in western Loudoun, said the heightened sales and recognition of the state's juice is thanks to the investment and patience of winemakers and growers across Old Dominion.
“There's a real sense in pride,” Renshaw said. “To repeat an old cliché, it's 'a labor of love.' We get up early, work really hard and it's years before we see any return. So to plant the grapes and to see people coming out to the tasting room to get a specific wine, it makes me enjoy the blood, sweat and tears.”
Renshaw, too, noted the need to plant more grapevines across the commonwealth. Following a spring frost in 2013 and brutal winter last year, the 8 Chains owner recently began supplementing his Virginia fruit – grown in vineyards in western Loudoun and north of Leesburg near the Potomac River – by bringing in grapes from Washington state for an 8 Chains Northwest label.
In Middleburg, Rachel Martin of Boxwood Winery, a boutique operation with a focus on quality, has been focused on spreading her elegant, expressive red wines beyond Virginia's borders. Within the past five years, Martin said, Boxwood has increased exports to two new countries and expanded distribution to eight states in the U.S
“This has been successful because of our commitment to quality and tireless work promoting Boxwood wines and at the same time Virginia wine,” Martin said.
With the inflating esteem, is there a fear of Virginia wine plateauing?
“No,” says Martin. “Virginia is just beginning to be recognized as a fine wine region.”
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