The Oenophiliac

Bringing you stories from the world of wine and beer.

Washington state’s wine industry growing fast

Washington state’s wine industry is growing rapidly – in the past seven years the number of wineries has doubled to 700 and it is now valued at $8.6 billion (£5.3 billion) in the state.

The economic impact study by the Washington State Wine Commission estimated that just five years ago the industry was valued at $3 billion.

The report also valued the industry at $14.9 billion, up from $4.7 billion in 2007, throughout the USA.

Since 2005, the number of wineries has grown from 360 to well over 700, adding 5,000 hectares of vineyards to bring the state’s total to 17,000 ha.

Washington State Wine Commission’s executive director Steve Warner said: “This report shows that Washington State wine is a vibrant and thriving contributor to the regional and national economies.”

Although the report does not examine Washington’s opportunities overseas, it states: “The industry is making progress in building an export market.”

Ted Baseler, chief executive of the state’s largest producer, Ste. Michelle, said: “This report shows that the future is indeed very bright for Washington State as one of the marquee premium wine growing regions of the world.”

In 2010 the state produced 11.2 milion 9 L cases of wine. The five largest producers account for more than 70% of wine production, the next 30 wineries account for about 20% to 25% of production, while several hundred very small producers deliver about 5% of the state’s total production. White Riesling, Cabernet, Chardonnay and Merlot account for nearly 80% of total production – which is almost evenly split between red and white varieties.

Around 2.4 million “wine-related tourists” are now visiting the state each year, spending almost $1.1 billion, according to the study. The industry also supports nearly 30,000 jobs in Washington state.

King County, surrounding Seattle, has the largest concentration of wine-related activity – more than $3.3 billion annually. Other county totals include Benton County ($927 million annually), Yakima County ($527 million annually), and Walla Walla County ($502 million annually).

The study was carried out for the Washington State Wine Commission by Stonebridge Research.

Story by Gemma McKenna

Courtesy of Harpers Wine & Spirit Trades Review

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