All of our pandemic wine nights seem to have done some good.
Unlike most industries that have struggled over the past two and half years due to Covid restrictions, the wine industry actually grew from its pre-pandemic levels, according to a new report in The Washington Post. This year, the industry’s economic impact is expected to be a whopping $276 billion, up from $220 billion in 2017.
This growth “illustrates the health of the industry,” said Michael Kaiser, the executive vice president of WineAmerica, a trade organization that estimated this year’s economic impact in a study released last month.
WineAmerica’s study examined the direct impact of production and sales, and also included the indirect impact from suppliers and the “induced impact” of wages being spent in the larger economy. In terms of wineries themselves, the report estimated that those across the United States would welcome 49.2 million tourist visits this year, resulting in about $16.7 billion in revenue.
Overall, some states will see massive paydays thanks to wine. Virginia, for example, will earn about $6.4 billion, while California (the biggest wine-growing state in the country) will get an $88.1 billion boost from the wine industry.
Part of the reason for wine’s strength over the past couple of years is its retail and online availability. Stuck at home with not much else to do, many people stockpiled their favorite Chardonnays and Cabernets. Wineries were certainly impacted by people’s inability to travel, and wine tourism took a big hit in 2020. But as the numbers reflect, that sort of tourism is rebounding—even if it means people are more likely to visit nearby vineyards instead of hopping on flights to Sonoma or the Snake River Valley.
It’s important to note that WineAmerica’s data aren’t perfect: Some basic figures had to be estimated from many different sources, and the Department of Agriculture stopped tracking vineyard acreage years ago because of budget cuts. Additionally, the study counts 10,637 wine producers, which might be different from the total number of wineries due to double-counting.
However, the study still paints an optimistic picture of the wine industry. So let’s drink to that.