Part of cost-share program to address grape shortage, encourage growth of Virginia wine industry
In its ongoing efforts to support economic revitalization efforts, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) is pleased to announce a free workshop for agricultural entrepreneurs interested in starting or expanding their own vineyard. Both new and advanced grape growers can attend the workshop on best practices. The workshops will be taught by Virginia Tech experts, and information will be shared on how to apply for the cost-share program of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC). Vineyard growers across the 34-county footprint of the TRRC are encouraged to attend.
“We are excited to offer another workshop to help promote vineyard growth and to expose growers to funding opportunities thanks to the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director of IALR. “This workshop, appropriate for both new growers as well as advanced growers, is open to anyone interested in viticulture, an agricultural resource critical to Virginia’s agritourism and wine industry.”
The New and Advanced Grower Workshop will be held on March 15 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Abingdon Vineyards, located at 20530 Alvarado Road in Abingdon, Va. Tony Wolf, Director of the Alson H. Smith Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Virginia Tech, as well as Tremain Hatch, Viticulture Specialist for the Virginia Tech/Virginia Cooperative Extension, will both lead the discussion and activities. Participants will learn about market opportunities, business planning and predicted cash flows, site evaluation and environmental challenges, design considerations and more. A complimentary lunch will be provided. Attendees should dress appropriately for an outdoor component, including a visit to the vineyard.
Amy Turner of IALR and Program Manager of the TRRC Vineyard Development and Expansion Cost-Share Program, will provide details on cost-share funding. Although the workshop is free, advance registration is required by March 13, 2019, and can be secured by visiting http://bit.ly/grapeworkshop.
Attendance to the New Grower Workshop or a previously offered workshop is required for new growers in order to be eligible for the TRRC’s Vineyard Development and Expansion Cost-Share Program. IALR was recently named by TRRC as the new program manager of this program, first launched in 2016. New applications for grant awards are currently being accepted. Through the cost-share program, IALR works with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, TRRC and the Virginia Vineyards Association to increase vineyard acreage and address the shortage of Virginia-grown grapes.
The TRRC’s cost-share program, in place through Jan. 12, 2020, is designed to support Virginia’s wine industry and agritourism by providing growers incentive to expand vineyard acreage. A cost-share award of up to $3,000 per acre is available for qualified vineyard growers—reimbursing 33 percent of eligible expenditures. Vineyards with up to nine acres may receive a maximum award of up to $15,000, and those with 10 or more acres may receive a maximum award of up to $20,000. Funding is awarded through a competitive process and may be sought by qualified existing growers who wish to expand their current acreage and by new growers developing their first vineyard. To be considered for the program, new growers must establish at least three acres of new vines, and existing growers must be willing to plant a minimum of one new acre. Eligible cost-share items include, but are not limited to, grapevines, hardware for trellis systems, fencing and irrigation systems.
To learn more about the New Grower Workshop or funding eligibility requirements, including a detailed map of the 34 eligible counties across Southern and Southwest Virginia, growers may visit TRRCgrape.com or contact Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434-766-6788. Turner also will assist growers with the application process.
The SOVA Vineyard Development and Expansion Program was developed with an overall goal of increasing production of wine grapes in Southern and Southwest Virginia. In order for wines to be marketed as Virginia wines, they must contain at least 75 percent of Virginia-grown grapes. While the number of wineries in Virginia has been increasing, the pace of vineyard expansion has lagged, resulting in acute grape shortages and the slowing of Virginia wine production. In 2015, the Virginia Wineries Association, Virginia Wine, Virginia Vineyards Association and Virginia Wine Council partnered on a strategic plan to address the issue.