Opportunity to Enhance Loudoun and Virginia Wine

Loudoun County has 34 wineries with an anticipated 40 to be open by the end of this year. Loudoun has more wineries than any other County in the Commonwealth of Virginia and our state is tied at fifth in the nation in the number of wineries and in grape production.

The economic impact of the wine industry in Virginia is impressive. According to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 individuals and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. In addition, more than 1.6 million tourists, a record high, visited Virginia wineries in 2011.

With this in mind and Loudoun's leadership in the wine industry, I was pleased to be able to travel to Surry Community College in North Carolina with representatives of the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development and Northern Virginia Community College to visit the Shelton-Badgett North Carolina Center for Viticulture and Enology. The Center provides students with the opportunity to obtain an Associates Degree in Viticulture and Enology.

This program is "home growing" the next generation of grape growers and wine makers for North Carolina. Given Virginia's strong position in this area, it also provides a unique opportunity for us to "home grow" our own next generation as well. Given that Virginia already has an approved syllabus for its own Associates Degree we are strongly positioned.

With this in mind, working with the Loudoun County Department of Economic Development a survey has been sent to wineries in Loudoun and throughout the region to gather interest, comments on Virginia creating a similar program. In the end, it is important that 1. there is a demand and 2. the students will get a job. In North Carolina, every graduate from the program has been employed.

Purcellville since the opening of Purcell's Store in the 1800s has long been the business hub of western Loudoun. We are in the Heart of DC's Wine Country and we are uniquely positioned to prosper further from the rural economy which is so important to our County. Helping our wine industry grow and provide them well-qualified and trained employees benefits all of us.

As a part of the trip to Surry a two-page summary was created. I am pleased to share that with you. And, Leesburg Today wrote an article about this issue.

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