RICHMOND—Virginia wines are drawing wine professionals and wine enthusiasts alike to the Old Dominion.
Some travel here to tip a glass at one of more than 200 farm wineries. In March, wine professionals from across the country will be in Richmond for tips and contacts related to vineyard and winery management.
The annual Wineries Unlimited conference and trade show will run March 27-29 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Now in its 36th year, the event is billed as the most significant wine industry buying show in the eastern United States.
The conference moved to Richmond from Pennsylvania in 2011, doubling its attendance and increasing vendor participation by more than 20 percent. It is estimated to have drawn more than 2,100 people to Richmond.
Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, called the event “a tremendous opportunity for Virginia. Vineyard and winery professionals will be able to participate in a world-class event and have numerous opportunities to network with vendors and industry participants from across the nation and around the world.
“At the same time, the conference makes it convenient for out-of-state attendees to tour and learn firsthand about Virginia wineries and other destinations. This is a great showcase for the commonwealth.”
The February issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine named Virginia among its 10 best wine travel destinations for 2012, only three of which were in the United States. The other two U.S. destinations are in California.
The article said, “Historically significant sites, picturesque pastoral landscapes, elegant equestrians and affable winemakers set Virginia apart as an excellent wine destination on the East Coast.”
In 2010, Virginia tourism generated $19 billion in revenue, supported more than 204,000 jobs and provided $1.3 billion in state and local taxes. It is estimated that about 1 million people go to a winery while visiting the state.
Sales of Virginia wine reached a record high in fiscal year 2011 with more than 462,000 cases sold—a sales increase of more than 11 percent over the previous fiscal year.
Virginia is the nation's fifth-largest wine producer and seventh-largest wine grape producer.