2008 was a good year for Virginia’s wine grape growers.

The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that Virginia’s bearing acreage increased 4 percent from 2,400 acres in 2007 to 2,500 acres in 2008.

Total wine grape acres have increased 3 percent from 2,790 acres in 2007 to 2,870 acres in 2008. “What we are seeing is that non-bearing acres from 2007 matured by 2008,” said Tony Banks, a commodity marketing specialist for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.

“It takes a (wine grape) plant three to four years before a crop can be realized. So the acreage that was planted in 2004 or 2005 is just coming into production.”



Virginia growers harvested more than 7,000 tons of grapes in 2008 — 25 percent more than in 2007 — valued at $10.4 million, or an average of $1,530 per ton. “This is a good sign that the industry continues to grow,” Banks said. “It will be even better news once we push through this economic downturn.”

Virginia ranked seventh nationally for commercial grape production and seventh for bearing acreage. Chardonnay grapes were the most-produced variety in the state.