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IALR NAMED AS PROGRAM MANAGER OF VINEYARD GRANT PROGRAM, ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

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~Cost-share program addresses grape shortage, encourages growth of Virginia wine industry~

Amy Turner of IALR, Program Manager of TRRC’s SOVA Vineyard Development and Expansion Program(DANVILLE, Va.) – The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) has been named by Virginia’s Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission (TRRC) as the new program manager of the SOVA Vineyard Development and Expansion Program, first launched in 2016, and is currently accepting new applications for grant awards. Through the cost-share program, IALR will work with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, TRRC and the Virginia Vineyards Association to increase vineyard acreage and address the shortage of Virginia-grown grapes.

“We are excited to step into this new role with the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, and look forward to supporting vineyard acreage expansion efforts as well as growth of the Virginia wine industry,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director of IALR. “As we strive to be a regional catalyst for economic transformation, agritourism and business development are important components of the process. IALR is excited to offer leadership throughout 34 counties in Southern and Southwest Virginia.”

This grant program, in place through Jan. 12, 2020, is designed to support Virginia’s wine industry and agritourism by providing growers incentive to expand vineyard acreage. A cost-share award of up to $3,000 per acre is available for qualified vineyard growers—reimbursing 33 percent of eligible expenditures. Vineyards with up to nine acres may receive a maximum award of up to $15,000, and those with ten or more acres may receive a maximum award of up to $20,000. Funding is awarded through a competitive process and may be sought by qualified existing growers who wish to expand their current acreage and by new growers developing their first vineyard. To be considered for the program, new growers must establish at least three acres of new vines, and existing growers must be willing to plant a minimum of one new acre. Eligible cost-share items include, but are not limited to, grapevines, hardware for trellis systems, fencing and irrigation systems.

To learn more about eligibility requirements, including a detailed map of eligible counties, growers may visit TRRCgrape.com or contact Program Manager Amy Turner at amy.turner@ialr.org or (434) 766-6788. Turner also will assist growers with the application process, which is currently open. Vineyard grower workshops and grant program interest meetings are being planned and will be announced on TRRCgrape.com.

The SOVA Vineyard Development and Expansion Program was developed with an overall goal of increasing production of wine grapes in Southern and Southwest Virginia. In order for wines to be marketed as Virginia wines, they must contain at least 75 percent of Virginia-grown grapes. While the number of wineries in Virginia has been increasing, the pace of vineyard expansion has lagged, resulting in acute grape shortages and the slowing of Virginia wine production. In 2015, the Virginia Wineries Association, Virginia Wine, Virginia Vineyards Association and Virginia Wine Council partnered on a strategic plan to address the issue.

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research serves Virginia as a regional catalyst for economic transformation with applied research, advanced learning, conference center services and economic development efforts. The Institute’s major footprint focuses within Southern Virginia, including the counties of Patrick, Henry, Franklin, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg along with the cities of Martinsville and Danville.

Pictured above is Amy Turner of IALR, Program Manager of TRRC’s SOVA Vineyard Development and Expansion Program

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