An updated website now offers a host of information and downloadable videos on how Iowans can launch grape groves and wine-making operations. Craig Tordsen, a value-added agriculture specialist at the Iowa State University Extension, says Iowa only had about a dozen wineries in the year 2000. Now, he says, there are at least 54.
The amount of wine produced by the native wineries is increasing substantially, from 40-thousand gallons in 2000 to about 126-thousand gallons this summer. Tordsen says the current number of wineries could likely double that amount to 250-thousand gallons a year. He says grape crops are cropping up all over Iowa and he predicts they will continue to do so for the next decade.
Tordsen says grapes won’t rival corn or soybeans but it does give an opportunity for value-added agriculture for those people who want to try something different. Unlike Iowa’s other big grain crops, he says grapes can be a very financially-attractive niche market. An acre of grapes will produce about three-and-a-half tons of juice that can be turned into wine, which can be worth 25 to 35-thousand dollars on the market. Tordsen says “the profitability can be substantially different than raising an acre of corn.” The website touting the q-and-a’s of Iowa winemaking is through the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, or “www.agmrc.org”.