Wine good for the economy
Blog: Winemaker's Journal
April 27, 2012
Think prosperous thoughts next time you take a sip of that excellent Washington wine.
And it better be a Washington wine, mind you, not one of those inferior California jug wines, lest you want the wrath of wine-loving Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire.
The Governor may have scorched some bridges with the California wine industry with her comment this week. "They make jug wine. We make fine wine. We're the second largest producer, but no one holds a candle to the quality of Washington state," she said during the signing of a construction bill that provided $5 million to a wine research facility in Richland.
Her loyalty is appreciated, I'm sure, but there might be some argument over those points since California wineries produce about 10 times as much wine as Washington, including some pretty fine wine along with the stuff in jugs and boxes.
But there's little dispute that Washington's fast-growing wine industry has been a boon to the state's economy.
Washington wines contributes $8.6 billion to the state economy and nearly $15 billion to the national economy annually, according to a 50-page economic impact study released earlier this week by the Washington State Wine Commission.
The 2011 study show a huge increase from a similar study in 2007 when the industry was valued at $3 billion in-state and $4.7 billion nationally. Since 2005, the number of wineries has more than doubled from 360 to 739 in 2011.
The study found that the the industry supports nearly 30,000 jobs in the state and nearly 70,000 jobs nationally. It generates more than $237 million in annual tax revenues for the state and nearly $305 million in federal taxes.
The industry draws in more than 2.4 million wine tourists who spend nearly $1.4 billion in statewide communities, according to the study.
Total economic impact for Chelan County is estimated at nearly $221.5 million annually, with tax contributions of $9.5 million to the state and $9 million to federal coffers. Wine creates 1,374 jobs and $35 million in wages for employees in the county.
Wine brings $227 million to Grant County, with $10.2 million in taxes paid to the state and $11.7 million paid to the feds. The wine industry employs 1,085 workers in the county who earn total wages of close to $40 million.
The two North Central Washington Counties rank only behind King, Benton, Yakima and Walla Walla as counties that benefit most from the state's wine industry.
Those are impressive numbers to be sure. Wine grapes now rank only behind apples and cherries — two other crops that richly benefit our area — as the state's most prosperous fruit crops.
So drink up and toast our local winemakers. Drinking is good for the economy.