October is Virginia Wine Month, celebrating a $1.4 billion industry

October is Virginia Wine Month, as declared by the Commonwealth each year, and 2020 marks the unofficial half-century mark of wine production in the state.

“Nearly 50 years ago, a small group of Virginia winemakers embarked on an endeavor of viticulture, despite skepticism from the global wine community,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring.

“This has yielded not only a thriving economic sector of agriculture and tourism, but also expressive, and one-of-a-kind wines.”

Virginia is now home to 312 wineries, making it the sixth-largest wine region in the U.S.

The Virginia wine industry generates an estimated $1.37 billion in annual economic impact, and the state’s vineyards and wineries employ more than 8,200 people.

Virginia’s vineyard, wineries and tasting rooms drew more than 2.2 million tourists in 2015, according to the Virginia Tourism Commission.

The month features events that highlight Virginia’s vineyards and the wines they produce, and the Virginia Wine Board designates the third Saturday of October as the annual Harvest Party — this year encouraging wine enthusiasts to gather safely in vineyards, restaurants, open fields or virtual settings to enjoy Virginia wine and food.

Harvest Party events this year include virtual and socially distanced events at vineyards throughout the state featuring food trucks, live music and restaurant-curated foods paired with a variety of Virginia wines.

Some wineries will be offering “Harvest Party Bundles” with wines and local artisanal foods.

“Winemakers are no strangers to uncertainty, and the wine industry has demonstrated its ability to adapt and thrive, despite the challenges created by the ongoing pandemic this year,” said Gov. Ralph Northam.

The Virginia Wine Board has a list of October wine events at various wineries and vineyards online.

It’s also holding a social media sweepstakes with the prize of a virtual guided tasting with a local expert, with food and wine pairings included.

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