For Immediate Release - March 15, 2012

Massachusetts Wineries Report 66 Percent Increase in Sales; Hiring Boost Thanks to Farmers' Markets

New report shows wineries hiring more employees, expanding production thanks to legislation signed by Governor Patrick

2011 Evaluation of Wine Sales Study

BOSTON – Thursday, March 15, 2012 – Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Scott J. Soares today announced a 66 percent increase in overall sales at Massachusetts wineries last year, thanks to sales of wine at farmers’ markets and agricultural events, which were allowed for the first time in 2011.

The survey shows wineries plan to create jobs as a result of a law signed by Governor Deval Patrick, which allows for the sale of wine from licensed farm wineries at approved agricultural events throughout the Commonwealth. The survey examined the impact of the legislation on wineries’ sales, as well as other measures, such as plans for increasing fruit and wine production and personnel. Data includes sales from farmers’ markets and other agricultural events from January through December 2011.

“With this new economic opportunity for Massachusetts wineries at farmers’ markets, the sales figures are impressive and demonstrate a significant economic impact to the Commonwealth’s agricultural economy and to the wineries’ sustainability,” said Commissioner Soares. “The Patrick-Murray Administration supports farmers’ market organizers, and the participation of local wineries, and as a result, consumers have responded enthusiastically to the added diversity of products.”

During the 2011 season, 18 local wineries participated at 67 different agricultural events, including 63 farmers’ markets and four agricultural fairs and festivals. Wineries reported an average 66 percent increase in overall sales due to sales from these markets. According to the DAR survey, sales at farmers’ markets totaled 34,280 bottles of wine – with an approximate value of $514,200.

Other highlights from the survey include the following:

  • Fifty-three percent plan to hire more employees, totaling 15 full-time and six part-time positions.
  • Ninety-four percent of respondents reported increased recognition for their wine.
  • Eighty-two percent of respondents reported increased visitors at their winery with an average increase of 28 percent.
  • Thirty-five percent of respondents plan to expand production.
  • Twenty-nine percent of respondents plan to increase wine production by an average of 38 percent this coming year.

In August of 2010, lawmakers created a law allowing for the sale of wine from licensed farm wineries at approved agricultural events. Venues such as farmers’ markets, agricultural fairs and festivals are eligible, if approved and certified by DAR. Once approved, wineries may then apply for the appropriate license from a local alcohol licensing authority. 

“Thanks to the state Legislature and the Department of Agricultural Resources for their help and support with the new regulation and its implementation, plans are being made to increase grape and fruit production and several new wineries are emerging because of this new venue for selling local wines,” said David Neilson, chairman of the Massachusetts Winery Growers Association. “Importantly, many visitors to farmers’ markets have now been made aware that in fact Massachusetts grows grapes and produces wine right here in the state.”

DAR previously released a study, An Economic Snapshot of the Massachusetts Winery Industry in July 2011, which showed the overall growth of the wine industry in Massachusetts from 1994. In 2010, there were 36 wineries producing wine and hard cider, seven more than in 2007, and three times the number in 1994. Massachusetts has 40 licensed wineries – 36 that produce and sell products made from grapes, apples, cranberries, peaches and blueberries that are sold by consumers across both the Commonwealth and the country. 

Some $9.3 million in total sales were generated in 2010, an increase from $7.8 million in 2007.  

“I knew passing the farm wineries law would help support our local farmers, but the level of success we’re seeing in the first year of this law has far exceeded my expectations,” said Senator Jamie Eldridge. “Allowing farmers to sell their wines at local farmers’ markets is helping stimulate our economy while providing consumers with the chance to experience and purchase local Massachusetts wines. It’s a great example of the way a small change in the law can make a big difference for local businesses.”

"It is gratifying to see the successful expansion of agriculture in Massachusetts through the opportunities our local vineyards and wineries have received from the Legislature in being allowed to participate in farmers markets," said Representative William Straus. “This has proved in a very short time to be a successful marriage of markets with agricultural producers to benefit the economy and the public."

"This is terrific news. These farmers' sales are a win, win, win,” said Representative Sarah K. Peake. “The consumer wins because they have access to a delicious local product, the winemaker wins because they can sell more product and increase revenue and Massachusetts wins because increased sales means more jobs and a growing economy. I love going to my farmers' market and buying fresh shellfish and a delicious local wine to accompany it."

Massachusetts farm wineries maintain open space and agricultural resources in the Commonwealth. Over 1,842 acres of open space are maintained with 439 acres devoted exclusively to grape or fruit production to make wine.

For more information and to discover Massachusetts wine and cheese makers, go to DAR’s Mass Grown and Fresher Wineries page.

DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit MDAR's website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow us at http://twitter.com/MDARCommish. For your gateway to locally grown products, specialty foods, and fun ag-tivities go to www.mass.gov/massgrown.

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