Study affirms wine industry a growing force

Doug Caskey
Doug Caskey

The Colorado wine industry accounts for more than $144 million a year in sales and tourism-related spending in the state, according to the results of a new study.

Total economic contributions from the wine industry have more than tripled since a similar study was conducted in 2005.

“The Colorado wine industry is increasingly strong and vibrant,” said Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board. “We are ecstatic about the results of the study and excited to see these numbers validate all of the hard work of our growers, winemakers and everyone involved in wine production.”

The board, an agency of the Colorado Department of Agriculture promoting the wine industry, commissioned the study. The Colorado State University Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics conducted the research.

The Front Range, home to more than half the 108 wineries in the state, has experienced the biggest jump in wine production. But the industry has benefited the entire state through sales of wine and wine grapes as well as tourism business.

According to the study, Colorado wine sales topped $28 million during the 2013 fiscal year, up from $11 million in 2005. More than 5 percent of the money Colorado residents spend on wine goes to the purchase of wines made in the state. Colorado outpaces the United States in wine consumption with 3.1 gallons per capita annually, 24 percent more than the national average.

Nearly 2,000 tons of wine grapes worth a total of more than $3 million are harvested each year in Colorado.

In addition to direct sales of wine and wine grapes, the wine industry contributes even more to the economy in travel and tourism-related spending. Residents contribute $56.3 million a year to the economy in attending wine festivals and other events and visiting winery tasting rooms. Tourists from outside Colorado contribute another $46.7 million annually.

“The significant expansion of the Colorado wine industry’s impact through tourism is particularly exciting,” Caskey said. “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.”

Colorado wineries create 460 jobs directly through sales and purchases in their communities. Counting tourism and wine-related activities, the wine industry supports nearly 1,700 jobs in the state.