Grant expected to boost wine grape acreage

Published 5:21 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2016

An $800,000 Southern Virginia Vineyard Development and Expansion Grant available through the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission is expected to foster new and expanded wine grape acreage in Southside Virginia.

The grant covers the counties of Amelia, Appomattox, Bedford, Brunswick, Buckingham, Campbell, Charlotte, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Franklin, Greensville, Halifax, Henry, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Patrick, Pittsylvania, Prince Edward and Sussex.

The grant is part of a larger three-year development and expansion program that includes an Extension-administered education component and on-farm research and development by the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.

While the number of wineries in Virginia has doubled in the past eight years, from 119 in 2007 to 255 in 2015, vineyard acreage has not kept pace.

The majority of the project budget, $716,000, is earmarked for cost-share payments benefiting new producers and existing vineyards and providing an incentive for 238 new and expanded acres.

New growers will be required to establish at least 5 acres of wine grapes, with grant funds cost-sharing at $3,000 per acre up to $15,000 per participant. New growers will be required to participate in training.

Existing vineyards of at least 3 acres will be eligible for cost share of $3,000 per acre when growers add an acre or more, up to $15,000 per participant. For grant application information, contact Fred Wydner, Pittsylvania director of agribusiness development, at (434) 432-7993.