Wine sales and grape production in Washington State are growing (pun intended) at exciting and very promising rates, according to studies published by the Washington State Wine Commission, as well as analysis by domestic and international wine industry organizations. The future of Washington State winemaking is cheerful indeed.
The 2015 study details the economic impact of wine and wine grapes in Washington State and measures the industry’s effect of jobs, income and revenues directly supported by wine growing and affiliated activities such as tourism. Results show an increase in total state economic impact of $1.3 billion since 2009, or a compound annual growth rate of 8.5 percent per year.
Top 5 key trends in today’s global wine market are:
- US Exports have doubled in the past 20 years, while Europe still maintains its position as a global leader, exporting 58% of its production
- The US has overtaken France as the world’s #1 wine consumer, with average annual consumption of 12 litres per person
- Europe still accounts for 50% of wine consumption worldwide and China offers tremendous potential for US vineyards who can export top quality products
- Wine exports, which account for 35% of all production worldwide, have almost doubled in the past 10 years
- New wine producing countries have oriented their sales strategies towards world markets and currently export over 50% of their production volume.
According to the 2015 report, the industry is valued at $8.6 billion annually in Washington State and $14.9 billion annually in the US.
These findings demonstrate a substantial increase from a similar study conducted in 2007 that valued the industry at $3 billion in-state and $4.7 billion nationally.
Since 2005, the number of licensed wineries in Washington State has more than doubled from 360 to now well over 700. The state has also added more than 13,000 acres of vineyards during this time - from just over 30,000 acres in 2005 to more than 43,000 acres today. The study also found that the industry supports nearly 30,000 jobs in Washington State and more than 70,000 jobs nationally, with wages of wages of nearly $1.2 billion and over $2.8 billion, respectively.
Speaking on behalf of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates at a recent conference, the largest producer in the state, president and chief executive officer Ted Baseler 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." He added, "Everything we do in Washington is about producing the highest quality wines."
According to the study, the industry generates more than $237 million in annual tax revenues to the state of Washington and pays nearly $1.4 billion annually in taxes across the country. Tourism in the state’s wine region is also booming, and yet it is in its infancy. The growth potential of the wine-growing region, and wine-hospitality related businesses has barely been tapped.
Each year, Washington State draws more than 2.4 million wine-related tourists who spend nearly $1.1 billion in communities throughout the state, and these numbers are expected to double every couple of years.
For the first time, this study also provides a snapshot of the industry's economic impact at the county level. According to the report, 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 latest Stats by the Washington State Wine Commission:
• Wine grape acreage: 50,000
• Wine production: 14.8 million cases – 37% growth from 2009
• Wineries: 860+ – Up 32% from 2009 • Wine grape growers: 350+
• Varieties produced: 40+
The future of the industry is also being well cared for and that is greatly because of the work of he Washington Wine Industry Foundation. The WWIF is comprised of people who have helped grow the Washington wine industry from the beginning. Using that experience, they identify challenges facing the industry. The support of donors enables WWIF to pursue grants and other resources to tackle those challenges. Over the past 14 years, WWIF has been awarded $2,218,296 in Federal and state grants to local wineries and wine making programs, and awarded scholarships totaling $168,400 to 33 students pursuing degrees in viticulture and enology in Washington State.
Projects have addressed education, risk management, winery safety, clean plants, cost-of-production calculators, integrated pest management and other topics.
The flourishing Washington wine industry was not built on the success of one winery or one grower. It was built on hundreds of wineries, thousands of grape growers and field workers, and the expertise of an entire community. WWIF is passionate about propelling Washington forward as a highly regarded wine region. With the funds received through donations and events, WWIF provides solutions and programs that deliver tangible benefits. Contributions to scholarships make it possible for students to pursue degrees in viticulture and enology.
The Global Chamber Seattle will be exploring opportunities to partner with organizations and members of the wine industry and being a part of the exciting future of Washington State Wines.
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Global Chamber® Seattle
Washington State Wine Council