June 20, 2013
Virginia opened a new agriculture trade office in London on Thursday to promote Virginia products in Europe.
"By having trade representatives on the ground," Governor Bob McDonnell said, "we can capitalize on new opportunities with proactive outreach strategies and by reacting quickly to market trends. Increased export opportunities for Virginia products abroad mean more jobs and economic opportunity here in the Commonwealth."
The new agreement is good news for Barboursville Vineyards, which already sends about 8,000 bottles of wine per year to Europe.
"Some of the finest restaurants in london are serving our wines," said Luca Paschina, the winemaker.
After centuries of Americans importing wine from Europe, some bottles are starting to go the opposite direction.
"In order to penetrate that market you need to have very high quality," Paschina said. "They drink quite a bit of wine and they also drink a lot of great wines."
Paschina says Governor McDonnell has been a great partner. McDonnell has visited Barboursville Vineyards, and several others in Central Virginia, to better understand the industry.
Paschina says having a Virginia-focused office in London will make it easier to overcome barriers.
"Wine can be quite complicated when it comes to exporting," Paschina said. "Each country has their own tariffs."
The office will also promote Virginia lumber.
Augusta Lumber, which has an facility in North Garden, already sends some wood to Europe, but officials say fear over the emerald ash borer has stifled their efforts to send more. They are hoping the new office will help convince importers in Great Britain that Virginia lumber is safe.
Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore participated in the opening ceremony in London on Thursday. He says six European countries covered by the office are among Virginia's top 15 agricultural export destinations so far this year.
Agribusiness consulting firm Andrew Brown and Associates has been hired to represent Virginia's agricultural and forestry interests in Europe.
The firm also will work with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services on agricultural export opportunities in Russia. ABA has an affiliate office in St. Petersburg, Russia.