Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year, and what's ahead in 2009

I felt like the best way to wrap up 2008 on this blog was to ask the winery association heads in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia to look ahead to 2009. You can find their responses below.

To all, a very happy and healthy new year. For those crunched by all that has happened these past few months, here's hoping that the new year offers a quick turnaround and an abundance of optimism.

Jennifer Eckinger, spokesperson, Pennsylvania Wine Association:
"PA has had a strong growth over the past few years and each year it seems that approximately 10 new wineries open their doors. In the latest listing of limited wineries that I received from the PLCB it showed 135 licensed wineries. Several of the wineries are looking to open in the coming year and others are dormant licenses. Averaging out the wineries that will be starting up in the coming year, I anticipate more than 115 wineries that will be open to the public."

Kevin Atticks, executive director, Maryland Wineries Association:
"My guesstimate is we will have at least six wineries licensing in 2009," he said this morning. You can find those listed on the
Maryland wines site. "Most of them are up there [on the site]. Two aren't there yet. And we're launching two new wine trails, which is pretty exciting for us." Neither has a name yet. One will encompass Eastern Shore wineries, and the other will bring together southern Maryland wineries. As for one big issue for '09? Same one as last year and the year before that. "We'll spend the first half of the year in the state capitol," he said, "attempting to clean up some ancient alcohol laws." It's an ongoing effort, he admitted, that has a ways to go.

Annette Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office:
"We currently have 144 wineries in Virginia. Up from 131, this time last year. This number is dynamic since we always have a few wineries that close in addition to the ones that open. To average this, I’d say we usually have about 15 new wineries open a year. But that number is brought down by the few wineries that close in the same year. I’d say one of the largest issues that Virginia wineries will face in 2009 will be continued zoning issues from local governments that want to separate agricultural practices from manufacturing and retail practices that are all important parts of any farm winery business. Most small farm wineries are dependent on tourism to build their customer base."

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