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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

April 25, 2012 at 10:10 AM

I’ll drink to that: Washington wine flourishing

Let me put my hooch, as it were, on the table. I’m a martini man. But I also enjoy wine with dinner and usually try to drink patriotically with a Washington label. So naturally I was interested in the economic impact report by the Washington State Wine Commission (yes, there is such a critter) released this week. (You can download it here). It was produced by Stonebridge Research Group.

The report claims that in 2010-2011, the industry had an impact of $8.6 billion within the state. That compares with $3 billion in 2007. This counts winery revenue, distributor markup, restaurant/retail markup, wine grape sales, tourism, etc. Wine accounted for almost 30,000 full-time equivalent jobs in the state and it and “allied industries” paid $237.7 million in state and local taxes and nearly $305 million in federal taxes. With 11.2 million cases of wine produced, the sector generated $1 billion in direct revenue. The state is No. 2 after California in the value of “utilized wine grape production and in bearing wine grape acreage.”

The number of wineries in Washington continues to grow, from 534 in 2007 to 739 in 33 counties in 2011. Most of Washington’s wineries are small family businesses, as they are in most of the U.S. Vineyards continue to be developed, with grape bearing vineyard acreage growing from 30,500 acres to 35,000 acres, with several thousand additional acres planted in 2008-2009 still waiting to bear fruit.

The numbers offered are fairly astounding. By comparison, the apple crop was valued at $1.44 billion. What the report begs is whether the industry is overdue for some painful consolidation or whether it can continue its expansion with small operations. Also, and I don’t claim to be an oenophile, Washington wines have yet to establish consistent reputations for high quality, compared even with Oregon. With some exceptions, they are overly fruity and not very sophisticated. Will this hinder future growth? The report doesn’t say. On a whim, I checked Robert Parker’s blog for wines of the week; not one came from Washington. I know, I know, many people hate Parker, but he is widely influential.

Anyway, wine is an important part of this fortunate state. Drink up.

And Don’t Miss: Did taxpayers really make a ‘profit’ from TARP? || Daily Ticker

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Apple shines again

But a broad-based stock rally

Is far from the tree

Comments | More in Agriculture, Wine industry

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