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Controversy in the Commonwealth

With the exception of Fred Franzia’s Bronco Wine brands and a handful of other bargain brands, it seems as if the current economic malaise has had an adverse impact on the entire wine industry (I know, brilliant, timely observation). Despite systemic troubles in the wine industry, it appears as if the Virginia wine industry has been spared – at least as far as funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia is concerned.

David Alan of WVEC, the local news station here in the Virginia Beach, VA area, reported on a brewing controversy here in Virginia – financial support for the Virginia wine industry.

In 1984, the Virginia General Assembly established the Virginia Wine Board as part of Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to support the promotion of the Virginia wine industry.  Funding for the Virginia Wine Board is based on a $3.50 tax levied on each case of Virginia wine.  Interestingly, the idea for this ‘liter tax’ originated with Virginia wineries (hat tip for having the foresight to approach the General Assembly).

The controversy here in the Commonwealth stems from the fact that the budgets of so many other educational institutions, functions, departments, and services here in Virginia have been cut, some significantly.  Although the Virginia Wine Board is self-funded, via the $3.50 tax, many here in Virginia are taking issue with the fact that funding has not been cut.

As a life-long resident of Virginia, and avid Virginia wine consumer, I feel that the Commonwealth of Virginia ‘needs’ a strong (and growing) Virginia wine industry.  Sadly, the populace may not fully understand the ‘self-funded’ aspect of the Virginia Wine Board, and the overall benefit to our state.

As reported on WVEC,

“For someone who is out of a job, collecting unemployment, to say the Virginia Wine Board hasn’t had its budget cut, I don’t think the average Virginian can make sense of that,”

I agree, and feel this lack of understanding of the importance of the Virginia Wine Board, will likely result in pressure on the General Assembly which will likely result in funding cuts in the future (I hope I’m wrong about this).

If you’re a Virginia resident, how do you feel about fully funding the Virginia Wine Board?  I’m curious if other states (outside of California and Washington) have similar arrangements.  How about your state?

WVEC news link:


Board of Directors, Virginia Wine Board:

J. Rock Stephens, Chairman , The Vineyard at Point Breeze

Jennifer McCloud, Vice Chairman, Chrysalis Vineyards

Patrick Duffeler, Williamsburg Winery

Marcie Siegel, Sweely Estate Winery

Luca Paschina, Barboursville Vineyards

Ruth Saunders, Vineyard Grower

Dean Triplett, Greenstone Vineyard

Mills Wehner, Chatham Vineyards