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Albemarle Winery Hosts Kickoff of New State Winery Signage Program

Albemarle County’s King Family Vineyards on Thursday hosted the launch of a statewide initiative to increase the visibility of Virginia’s homegrown wines.  The program will allow for the installation of 17 highway signs across the state that highlight designated American Viticultural Areas (AVA). The signs denoting the Monticello AVA, which includes the 27 wineries in Albemarle County, are the first to be erected in the state.

Virginia’s first lady, Maureen McDonnell, oversaw the launch, which is part of her platform to promote economic development, health and opportunities for women. “No state can touch what Virginia has when it comes to all that we have in our state to offer,” McDonnell told about 75 people against a backdrop of gray skies and fog-draped foothills.  In Albemarle County, four signs denoting the Monticello American Viticultural Area will be erected — two each on U.S. 29 and U.S. 250.

“[When] you put wine and tourism together, you’re really talking about an economic engine for the state,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore. “We’re trying to do everything that we can to boost the wine industry and the related industries that tie into it,” he added.

The governor’s announcement also said that Virginia’s wine industry contributes $747 million annually to the economy, supporting 4,800 jobs that pay $156 million in wages.  Approximately 1.6 million people visited Virginia wineries last year. In 2010, tourism generated $19 billion in revenue, supporting 204,000 jobs and generating $1.2 billion in state and local tax revenue, according to the governor’s office.

Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin, who also attended the unveiling, said the fact that 11 out of the 12 top-scoring wines at the 2012 Governor’s Cup Competition were made from grapes that came from Central Virginia further cements the area’s reputation as a serious player in the wine industry.

The wine region sign program was funded by a federal grant through the Transportation Enhancement Program and matching funds from Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Pictured: Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture; Rita McClenny, Interim Director of the Virginia Tourism Corporation; Maureen McDonnell, First Lady of Virginia; and David King, owner of King Family Vineyards

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