RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -Virginia’s launching a new program aimed at drawing more tourists to the commonwealth’s wine country. Today Governor Bob McDonnell revealed plans to place along well-traveled primary and secondary roads alerting drivers that they have entered a particular Virginia American Viticultural Area (AVA), or wine region.
An AVA is a designated wine grape growing region in the United States distinguishable by certain geographic features.
“In addition to having one of the fastest growing wine industries, the Commonwealth is blessed with some of the country’s most beautiful wineries and wine regions,” the governor said in a statement. “The new signs will draw attention to the diverse wine regions and encourage travelers and tourists to see and taste what the Virginia wine industry has to offer.”
The first phase of the program will consist of placing 17 signs in four Virginia AVAs and one well-known wine region. The first sign was unveiled Thursday morning in the Monticello AVA at King Family Vineyards in Crozet.
The program is funded though a grant from the federal Transportation Enhancement Program and The Commonwealth Transportation Board.
According to a release from the governor’s office, Virginia is home to more than 200 wineries and is fifth in the nation for wine grape production. A newly released economic impact study shows that Virginia’s wine industry contributes almost three-quarters of a billion dollars – or $747 million – annually to Virginia’s economy. Virginia wineries and vineyards support 4,800 jobs that provide $156 million total in wages.