The Virginia office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service recently compiled figures on the state’s 2015 wine grape production, and the outlook presented a fine balance.
Virginia’s 2015 wine grape harvest yielded more than 9,000 tons, with total production up 400 tons from 2014. Utilized production also totaled more than 9,000 tons, up 1,000 tons from 2014.
According to Annette Ringwood Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Board marketing office, unused grapes usually result from one of two scenarios: supply outpacing demand or fruit not meeting desired quality levels.
“Generally, demand for commercial grapes grown in Virginia outpaces supply in Virginia,” Boyd said. “2015 had a near-textbook harvest, so 100 percent was used.” Weather-wise, she added, 2015 “was a great year for commercial grapes.”
In 2014, Boyd noted, “some grapes experienced delayed ripening, so some 600 tons went unused.”
Virginia is home to more than 255 wineries. Tony Wolf, a professor of viticulture at Virginia Tech, stressed the importance of increasing grape production in the state, and he said he encourages producers to have contracts for their crops.
“The Virginia wine industry needs more Virginia-grown grapes,” Wolf said. “The fall harvest in 2015 was a good warm, dry season, so that could have helped growers find a home for their grape crops.”
Based on utilized production, Virginia ranks seventh nationally in grape production. NASS estimated that Virginia had 3,300 bearing acres in 2015, unchanged from 2014, with an average yield of 2.79 tons per acre, up 0.12 tons from 2014.
“Indications are quite positive in terms of both the quality and quantity of the 2015 vintage,” Wolf said.