Despite the challenging economic times, Massachusetts' wine industry is blooming. It's growing in both production and sales, according to a recent survey conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.
"Massachusetts residents no longer have to look to far off places such as Napa Valley or Washington State to find great wine," says Massachusetts' Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan. " Wineries are becoming a valuable part of the Commonwealth's agricultural economy," he adds, "and the future only looks brighter for this burgeoning industry."
In 2010, Massachusetts wineries bottled over 134,724 gallons of still, sparkling wine, and hard apple cider – up 21% from 2007. "Massachusetts consumers are discovering exceptional wines being produced right here in the Bay State," adds DAR Commissioner Scott Soares. "This awareness has been enhanced by sales of wine at farmers' markets, as well as visits to winery tasting rooms across the state."
What's 'fermenting' demand
Recent legislation has allowed licensed wine makers to sell their vintages, directly marketed to consumers at approved farmers' markets across the Commonwealth, explains Soares. Wine makers have received enthusiastic reviews from their interactions with shoppers, part of the direct-to-consumer movement, as well as a higher profit margin for the winery which contributes towards a more sustainable business.
Of the 40 licensed wineries in Massachusetts, 36 produce and sell products made from viniferous and cold-hearty grapes, as well as a variety of fruit including apples, cranberries, peaches and blueberries that are savored by consumers across the state and the country. Four weren't selling product at the time of the survey.
Last year, 36 wineries were producing wine and hard cider – seven more than in 2007 and triple the number in 1994.
Since 2007, the following wineries have opened: Issaks of Salem, Salem; Green River Ambrosia, Greenfield; Mineral Hills Winery, Florence; Still River Winery, Harvard; Travessia, New Bedford; Willow Spring, Haverhill; and Zoll Cellars, Shrewsbury. Click here for a recent snapshot of the growth of the Massachusetts wine industry was released in July.
Wine sales totaled $9.3 million in sales in 2010, up from $7.8 million in 2007. Hard cider production added over 30,000 gallons since the last survey.
Direct sales to consumers represented approximately 66% of Bay State farm winery sales. The remaining 34% were wholesale, part of the three-tier system of distribution in Massachusetts. Twenty- six wineries in the state have tasting rooms and are open to visitors.
Over 1,842 acres of open space are currently maintained by farm wineries across the Commonwealth, with 531 acres devoted exclusively to grape or fruit production to make wine. In 1994, wineries held only 600 acres of open space.
Direct sales to consumers through e-commerce has also helped the industry. Currently, 13 wineries offer direct shipping from their websites and consider this an important success factor for their overall business.
Per-capita consumption in Massachusetts also helps. The national average per capita consumption of wine is about 2.54 gallons per year. Massachusetts consumers rank seventh in the nation for per capita consumption at 4.9 gallons per year, nearly double the national average.