While Iowa’s known globally for its corn and soybeans, the Iowa wine industry has seen a healthy rebound in recent years, growing from just 13 wineries in 1999 to 234 wineries statewide this year. Mike White, an Iowa State University extension crop specialist and viticulturist, says Iowans consumed some two-point-three million gallons of wine last year, though only 77-thousand gallons came from Iowa wineries. The market share is about one-and-a-half percent, indicating there is a lot of room for growth. Iowa’s grape production for wine ranked sixth in the U-S back in the 1920s, fell to almost nothing in the 1940s and started to rebound slowly into the 1990s. White says it is -not- an industry in which people can hope to get rich quick. He says an acre of grapes may cost five-thousand dollars an acre to establish, it’ll take three years to produce a ton or so per acre and five years to get full production going of three-to-four tons per acre — and he says “you don’t really start making money ’til around year nine.” White says many Iowans have gone into the wine venture in the past half-decade, with the government’s help. He says the legislature passed a law last July allowing gift or flower shops to buy a 25-dollar license to sell Iowa wine. That was a big help, he says, as it’s made the locally-produced wines much more accessible to the public. White says wine is strongly linked to agri-tourism, as studies have found that for every dollar spent on Iowa wines, another 75-cents or more is spent at local hotels and on gas, food and gifts.
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