Thank China for record-breaking Virginia wine sales

Posted at 7:24 PM, Aug 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-14 19:26:09-04

GLEN ALLEN, Va. (WTVR) -- New numbers from the governor's office show wineries sold more than 511,000 cases in fiscal year 2013. That is a 23 percent jump in just two years.

"Over 500,000 cases in a year. That is astronomical," said Alexander Morgan with James River Cellars in Glen Allen. "It is about quality over quantity."

Bob Kocher sells 400 varieties of Virginia wines at his "Once Upon a Vine" on Richmond's Northside. Bob says more and more locally produced wine is flying off the shelves.

"Virginia wineries are producing better wines than they have in the past," said Kocher. "I think people are realizing that Virginia wine is a good wine to drink."

The red and white means a lot of green. Virginia wine is proving to be liquid gold for the Commonwealth as more than 4,700 people are employed and $750 million is generated each year.

Annette Boyd with the Virginia Wine Marketing Office says the quality of Virginia wines is on par with California and other major wine making regions.

"Absolutely Virginia wines are here to stay," said Boyd. "The caliber of wine has increased tremendously over the last five years."

A major reason the jump in sales a recent trade agreement with China making Virginia wines more available in Asia. International sales of Virginia wines grew by more than 74 percent, increasing from just over 3,300 cases in FY12 to more than 5,800 in FY13.

Marylanders Karen and Corky McClure, who have discovered Virginia wines, were spotted at James River Cellars winery in Glen Allen sipping on red and white wine.

"This is one of our favorites," said Karen McClure. "We just enjoy it that is all. We're taking it home. I give it away as gifts."

And the couple promised to come back and buy more cases of Virginia wine.