HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Local wineries are looking toward an optimistic future as a recent economic report paints a rosy picture for Virginia’s wine industry.
“The yeast is doing all the work,” Mitzi Batterson told 8News as she churned fermenting grapes.
Batterson, who co-owns the James River Cellars Winery, is uncorking this season’s harvest. The winery, located in Glen Allen, is complete with a tasting room atop a hill on the property.
“This is a small family hobby that got out of control,” she said. “So we’ve definitely grown since then.”
Since the family business opened more than 20 years ago, Batterson said she’s seen steady growth.
“We’ve been hiring a lot more people to help us, you know, staffing the tasting room,” she said. “We did an expansion — several years ago — of our tasting room, so we have a lot more space [and] we can accommodate a lot more people.”
The Virginia Wine Board released its economic impact study results earlier this summer. According to those results, Virginia’s wine and grape-growing industry experienced significant growth in the number of wineries and a surge in demand for wine since 2015.
The number of bonded wineries in the state grew to 357 in 2019 from 261 in 2015. The results also revealed wineries and other related industries across the state have contributed more than $1.73 billion to the economy since the last study was done in 2015. That’s up about 27%. The wine, grape and other related industries provided 10,420 jobs.
The data for this study is taken from numbers recorded in 2019, according to Annette Boyd, the Virginia Wine Board’s Marketing Director.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Batterson said. She added the wine industry is a combination of both the agriculture and tourism sectors.
According to the study, wine production ramped up by 17% from 2015 to 2019 as wineries across the state produced 1.97 million gallons in 2019 alone — ranking Virginia tenth in the nation.
“I think because our industry is working so well and moving forward together, I think you’ll see a lot of great new changes and I think that’s going to help expand the growth,” Batterson said.