Colorado wineries’ economic impact triples

179259532More than 5 percent of the money spent on wine by Coloradans goes to wines made in the state, according to a new study commissioned by the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.

Conducted by Colorado State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, the study shows Colorado’s wine industry economic contribution has more than tripled–to more than $144 million– since a 2005 study.

And local vineyards help meet the demand by Colorado imbibers. The state’s wine consumers have surpassed national consumption, drinking approximately 3.1 gallons per capita annually, 24 percent higher than the national average.

While the Front Range–home to more than half the 108 wineries in the state–has seen the biggest jump in production, the economic growth has benefited the entire state through grape growing, wine sales, wine-inspired tourism and industry employment, according to the report.

Key findings include:

Colorado’s wineries create 460 jobs directly through sales and expenditures within their communities.

Including collateral spending from tourism and wine-related activities, wine supports 1,665 jobs in the state.

During the past five years, the industry has experienced 27 percent growth in volume and 65 percent growth in estimated sales value.

In Colorado, the  wine industry has maintained a 16 percent average annual growth during the last 20 years.

In fiscal year 2013, wine sales surpassed $28 million–up from $11 million in 2005.

In the state, consumers spend more per bottle on local wines than other wines.

“We see this as an indication that Colorado wine drinkers consider our local wines as a special occasion selection, perfect for their holiday feasts,” said Dawn Thilmany, Ph.D., a professor at CSU and lead author/researcher for the study.

Wine tourists from outside Colorado spent $46.7 million in the state. All told, wine tourism at festivals and events, coupled with tasting room visits and related tourism spending, generated $103 million for Colorado’s economy.

“The significant expansion of the Colorado wine industry’s impact through tourism is particularly exciting,” said Doug Caskey, executive director of the CWIDB. “The local industry encouraged state residents to contribute $56.3 million to Colorado’s economy by attending wine festivals and events, or visiting tasting rooms instead of taking their money to wineries in another state. We are very gratified that Colorado wine adds one more item to the long and exhilarating ‘to do’ list that the state offers its visitors.”

Annually, nearly 2,000 tons of wine grapes worth more than $3 million are harvested. The state’s landscape and climate are conducive to growing high-quality fruit. Increasingly, the industry has gained a reputation for high-quality wines, meads and ciders.