Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Virginia is Surging Ahead - And Leaving New York Behind

For anyone who's really watching the East Coast wine industry, and wondering what's going on, they should know two things - The Finger Lakes have arrived and that Virginia is far out performing New York state. And Virginia is the fifth largest wine producing state in the country.

The two facts are irrefutable. Most impressive is Virginia.

Virginia gets it. It's winemakers have participated with a state government who gets it. The total Virginia wine industry is worth $350 million, which is less than half the industry it is in New York, where the industry is a whopping $1 billion. But the executives in Virginia's Governor's office, and the state legislature, understand that their wine industry is among their best tourist attractions - and that's in a state that has some very exciting attractions - Mount Vernon, Monticello, Williamsburg, Arlington, Charlottesville, Richomond, Alexandria, and many others. Virginia is outspending and out efforting New York $4 to $1.

In mid-June, there was a statewide agreement, spearheaded by Governor McDonnell's office, and his wife, the First Lady of wine, and the General Assembly did the following:

1. Almost doubled the state's overall wine budget from 500,000 to $1.35 million to promote Virginia wine

2. The Virginia Department of Transportation increased road signage and tourism awareness with an additional $3.5 million to help promote locoal tourism.

3. The Governor and First Lady and Secretaryof Agriculture went to London to kick off a Grand Tasting of Virginia wines, where Virginia has gained a toe-hold in the UK market from long-term promotion there.

4. Virginia stole Wineries Unlimited away from Philadelphia. While hosting the event, they will host a Grand Tasting of Virginia wines to promote their wines.

5. Virginia hosted a wine bloggers conference, inviting as many wine bloggers to attend as possible.

6. And Virginia hosts a large Food & Wine culinary event each year, promoting local agriculture and wine.
7. Virginia's website is a conumer oriented, graphically pleasing, and fun website aimed at consumers.

There is no question that men like Richard Leahy and Washington DC wine columnist Dave McIntyre have woken up a sleeping giant in Virginia. And one must applaud Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd P. Haymore.

These are all the reasons Virginia wines will soon eclipse New York's, if not for size, at least for cachet and desirability.
Congratulations to Virginia! Nice to see an East Coast state that gets it. And some great wines to boot!!!!