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State wine industry worth hefty $144 million

By Dave Buchanan

Colorado wine is showing up on more tables and consumers are willing to pay more it, according to a report released Wednesday by the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.

The report, done by Colorado State University for the CWIDB, says that not only are Colorado wine consumers drinking more wine than their national counterparts – 3.41 gallons per year compared to the national level of 2.7 gallon – they are drinking more Colorado wine.

The report also notes that that the Colorado wine industry’s economic impact in sales, employment and other considerations has more than tripled to more than $144 million since a similar study was conducted in 2005.

"Our $144 million is very small, but it's a key linchpin in the state's $40 billion agriculture industry," said Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado wine board. ““The significant expansion of the Colorado wine industry’s impact through tourism is particularly exciting.”

The wine industry has become “imperative” to the marketing efforts of the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau, said Mistalynn Lee Meyeraan, Marketing & Public Relations Coordinator.

“This is the way Grand Junction, and the entire Grand Valley, distinguishes itself from the rest of the destinations,” Meyeraan said. “It’s our ‘umbrella’ brand. This is wine country.”

CSU researchers said wine tourism generates $103 million annually in direct and indirect economic activity, with an estimated $144 million in sales, employment and secondary economic impacts.

Caskey said the wine industry “encouraged state residents to contribute $56.3 million to Colorado’s economy by attending wine festivals and events, or visiting tasting rooms instead of taking their money to wineries in another states.

“We are very gratified that Colorado wine adds one more item to the long and exhilarating ‘to do’ list that the state offers its visitors,” he said.

According to the report, the state’s wine industry, barely a quarter-century old, remains small by most standards, accounting for just 2 percent (up .2-percent) of all wine sales (by volume) in Colorado and 5.5 percent of the wine dollars spent.

The later in part is due to the higher prices Colorado wine fetches. The average price of a bottle of Colorado wine last year was $16.64, up from $12.86 in 2005 and well above the $6.14 average cited for other wines.

But that last is a bit misleading, since “other wines” includes the ocean of cheap brands such as box and jug wines, Yellowtail and Two Buck Chuck.

According to the report, sales of local wines jumped from $19.1 million in fiscal year 2011 to $28.2 million last year.

What that means, said Caskey, is "One dollar out of every 20 spent on wine in this state goes to Colorado wine".

Production in Colorado grew to 335,000 gallons, up 14 percent (17,000 gallons) from 2012 and a reflection of the bountiful harvest grape producers enjoyed in 2012.


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