VWA Commonwealth Quality Alliance

The Commonwealth Quality Alliance is a quality standards initiative of the Virginia Wineries Association that works to reward and promote Virginia-grown wines, which meet international standards and best showcase the Virginia wine industry, in order to garner acclaim both locally and abroad.

CQA Background:

The Virginia Wine industry is in a strong adolescent phase where growth becomes controversial and is sometimes harder to accomplish through individual winery organizations.

Virginia is truly the oldest wine grape growing region in the United States of America; dating back centuries to a time when Thomas Jefferson attempted to grow grapes for wine in the commonwealth. This has been a strong marketing platform for the Virginia Wine industry and has helped serve the industry to get to the point where it currently is.

The unfortunate reality is that Virginia's modern day wine industry is very young, dating back only to the 1970's. There has been sufficient growth in the number of wineries over the last 30-40 years. It is the modern day Virginia Wine industry that has suffered from consumer perceptions in regards to origin and quality. Any current wine industry can not survive solely on its historical merits; they must prove to a customer that there is a great quality-to-price ratio and a reason to buy the wine.

Over the last decade, the entire world has moved into a feeling that buying local is responsible and a way to receive better quality agricultural products. The wine industry in Virginia has had problems with the local movement because, as much as the consumer understands that buying local is the more responsible purchase, there is a pre-conception of poor quality that has left Virginia wines behind in the local movement. As consumers educate themselves further in buying local, there have also been growing concerns as to the origin of the grapes being used.

Within the same time frame that the modern day Virginia Wine industry has been active there have been several other regions nationally and internationally to gain greater market shares. At the start of our modern wine industry, the following other wine industries have been developed and surpassed Virginia: Oregon, Washington, New York, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand. All of these wine industries were in their infancies in the 1970's but strived for better quality through various means to include: quality assurance programs, sustainability programs, funding local educational institutes, specializing in best varietals for the region, etc. All of these regions have, not only have taken a stronger market share than Virginia nationally and internationally, but most of them have surpassed our market share, even locally.

Moving forward, the Virginia Wine industry must prove itself by having not only a great sense of history, but also showcasing itself as a world leader for quality and its support of locally grown fruit for our wines.