Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Illinois Grape Industry Expanding

The Illinois grape and wine industry has expanded rapidly in the last 10 years. Recently the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association completed an economic analysis on the impact of the grape and wine industry in Illinois as reported in the story in the Galesburg Register-Mail.

SPRINGFIELD (CNS) - The Illinois wine industry contributed $253 million to
the state economy through sales, tourism, wages and tax dollars, according to
recently released data.
The findings published in a report commissioned by
the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association showed a growing wine
industry, with a 90 percent increase in Illinois vineyards over the past decade.
"In the last 10 years, the Illinois wine industry has really exploded,"
Richard Faltz, president of the association, said Tuesday. "Some 2,300 jobs
across Illinois have been created by the wine industry."

The grape industry is predominently featured in southern Illinois, but has spread to all areas of the state. I have visited several of the wineries and you will find people from all kinds of backgrounds who are getting into this industry. Some of the are conventional farmers who are seeking to diversify, stockbrokers who left the business and people who started as a hobby and scaled up their operations.

A new vineyard will take 3-4 years to produce it's first crop. This is intensive farming with much more research needed for midwestern grape growing. Limited research has been done in Illinois with new grape varieties suited for Illinois. The University of Minnesota has developed dome local varieties that are well suited to the colder climates.

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