The surging interest in farm wineries led to a doubling in the population of bonded wineries across the United States in the past decade and has now reached 2,700, according to a survey by the American Vintners Association (AVA), according to Wine Market Report.
The figure is also about 50 per cent higher than other recent estimates, which have ranged from 1,700 to 2,100.
David Sloane, president of the 650-member winery association, said states legislatures have quietly and steadily been creating a favourable regulatory environment for the establishment of fruit and winegrape wineries.
"States are much more actively engaged in now encouraging wineries," said Sloane. "For one thing, it's one of the few bright spots in rural agriculture across the United States and in some cases is bringing new economic development to depressed rural environments."
This census is part of a study that the association is completing to help states strengthen their winery laws and promote the development of their local wine industries. The study, which involved conducting interviews with regulatory agencies, trade associations and wineries in all 50 states, analysed existing laws, identified "best practices" and examined alternatives.
The resulting data is being used to develop a "model" state winery law to assist states in realising the economic development potential of their local wine industries, said Sloane. The study and model law will be unveiled toward the end of the year.
Sloane said a half-dozen state agencies already had expressed interest in adopting versions of the model state winery law.
"Improving the regulatory environment will help the wine industry from both the local vantage and the national vantage, and among other things will put pressure on regulators and lawmakers to open up their states to direct shipping," he said.
The AVA's US Winery Census shows just how rapidly the number of wineries in the US has grown, helped by the legislation but in the longer run also by an increase in export demand.
There were just 800 US wineries in 1975, a figure which rose to 1,400 in 1990 and 2,700 at present. While California is the state best-known for its wine outside the US, the survey shows that there are in fact a dozen other states with at least 30 wineries - Washington, Oregon, New York, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Missouri, Connecticut, New Mexico, Illinois and Mississippi - and four states with more than 150 wineries - California, Washington, Oregon and New York. Ohio has the fifth-largest number of wineries with 75.
Texas and North Carolina have shown the most rapid growth - the number of wineries there rose by 2000 per cent between 1975 and 2002; in actual winery terms, the numbers rose from 31 to 45 in Texas and from 10 to 23 in North Carolina over the last 12 years. Colorado and Arizona also showed rapid growth - 1400 and 1300 per cent respectively - with the numbers increasing from five to 40 and from four to 13 over the last 12 years.
The census also reveals that for every bottle of wine sold at a farm winery, there is an investment of $50 in land, development, equipment and capital.
Re-published with permission from Richard Cartiere Publishing LLC.