Iowa's Grape & Wine Industry
The wine and grape industry in Iowa has a long history, but has only recently made strides in expanding in terms of production and economic impact. In the year 2000, Iowa only had approximately 30 acres of grapes in production. Fast forward to today and we currently have around 100 licensed wineries and nearly 300 commercial vineyards covering more than 1,200 acres across the state.
Fast forward to today and we currently have right around 100 licensed wineries and nearly 300 vineyards covering 1,300 acres across the state.
Iowa’s wineries and vineyards are locally owned and operated by Iowa families who are good neighbors and contribute to their communities. Iowa wineries vary greatly in their size and capacity. Many are small and located in old rural buildings or barns. A number of owners have erected new buildings or renovated existing structures that are capable of accommodating large events and have room for expansion as their business grows.
On average, the typical Iowa winery produces approximately 3,000 gallons of wine annually.
The Iowa native wine industry also helps to promote and establish additional economic activity in the state, including lodging, food, travel, gifts, ag-tourism, event centers, festivals, music, art and a host of service industries. The eight official wine trails that crisscross the state bring in visitors to not only the wineries but to the towns and cities along the way. These tourists are eating in restaurants, staying in local hotels and taking locally sourced goods home with them from the little shops and storefronts in these small communities.
History of Grapes in Iowa
It's no secret that Iowan's know a thing or two about agriculture. In fact, grape-growing is an important part of Iowa agriculture and is nothing new to our state's ag history. Grapes were grown in the state as early as 1857 when a vineyard was planted in the rolling hills of western Iowa near Council Bluffs. In fact, Iowa ranked eleventh in grape production in the United States in 1899. In 1919 just before Prohibition, Iowa was the 6th largest wine producer in the nation, with commercial vineyards and wineries established even before more well-known grape growing states in the US! A movement toward the production of more row crops, developments of new herbicides in the mid 1900s, coupled with a severe blizzard in 1940 all served to nearly diminish the number of grapes grown in Iowa.
A resurgence in the industry occurred in 2000, when the Iowa Wine Growers Association was established to represent the wine grape growers and wine makers across the state of Iowa. In 2012, the Iowa Quality Wine Consortium was created to promote the making of quality wines and establish quality parameters to meet. Iowa wines must pass a rigorous testing process to be awarded this designation.
Today’s industry is vibrant and growing. We are well-positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities and become greater contributors to the agricultural and economic vibrancy of the state of Iowa. If you haven't visited an Iowa winery lately, we encourage you to taste the experience that Iowa wine has to offer! Trust us, getting there is half the fun.
Iowa Wine & Beer Promotion Board
The Iowa Wine & Beer Promotion Board was established by the Iowa Legislature in 1986. The Board consists of three members: one member represents the Iowa Economic Development Authority, one member represents the Iowa wine industry, and one member represents the Iowa beer industry. The Board advises the Iowa Economic Development Authority on the best means to promote native wine and beer made in Iowa. The account is funded by excise taxes on native wholesale of Iowa wine and beer. Nicole Eilers, marketing director for the Iowa Wine Growers Association, serves as the wine representative on the Board and was nominated by the Iowa Economic Development Authority Director in 2015 to serve a 3-year term, which was extended in 2018 by Economic Development Director Debbie Durham.
Iowa Wine Consumer Focus Group Study
The Iowa Wine & Beer Promotion Board recently commissioned a consumer focus group research study to evaluate and determine consumer awareness, perception and preferences in relation to Iowa wine. The study provided some key findings in relations to branding Iowa wines to target consumer audiences, as well as identified some strengths and opportunities for the industry to focus on moving forward. View the full research study results here.
Iowa Native Wine Sales Report
According to a recent report that was commissioned by the Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute, and conducted by the ISU Extension & Outreach Value Added Ag Program, total wine production was 389,546 gallons in 2017. Wine sold at the wineries represented 44.6 percent of sales, while the remaining 55.4 percent were sold at wholesale. Total sales of Iowa wines were 294,474 gallons, representing a 6 percent share of Iowa’s wine market. On average, Iowans consume about 1.5 gallons of wine a year per person, compared to the national average of 2.9 gallons per person. The report also stated that 13 native Iowa wineries sell nearly 60 percent of the native wine market share.
View the 2016 Iowa Native Wine Production & Sales Report (pdf).
View the 2017 Iowa Native Wine Production & Sales Report (pdf).