75,000 Visit Wine Experience at the August 13-23, 2009 Iowa State Fair

Michael L. White, Extension Viticulture Specialist, Statewide
Problem Statement: 
The Iowa winegrape industry has grown dramatically over much of the state during the last nine years. Iowa now has 74 commercial wineries and 400+ commercial vineyards.  Even though native Iowa wine sales in Iowa continue to grow each year, native wine inventories are growing and winegrape production is beginning to outpace demand.   Native wine sales in Iowa reached the 5.5% market share portion of total wine sales during the State fiscal year ending June 30th of 2009. Most wine marketing professionals believe that increasing the public’s awareness and educational level of the local wine industry garners a greater appreciation and sales of locally made wine.  
Programmatic Response:
Mike White teamed up Kevin Smith – board member of the Iowa Wine Growers Association, the Iowa State Fair Board and staff, Randall Vos – viticulture instructor at Des Moines Area Community College and Barb Rasko – publisher of MakeMineWine Magazine to convert Grandfathers Barn at the top of the hill at the Iowa State Fair into a Iowa grape and wine industry permanent display called the  “Wine Experience”.  Thirty-seven people volunteered and worked at the “Wine Experience”.  
The “Wine Experience” display included:
        a.      An ISU Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute informational display.
        b.      Antique wine making equipment donated by Ackerman Winery in the Amana’s and Baxter’s Winery in Nauvoo, IL.
        c.      Mechanical grape harvester from Fred and Cindy Ver Schuure of Oskaloosa, IA.
        d.      Daily wine tasting.
        e.      Daily grape stomping competitions.
        f.      Daily educational speakers.
        g.      Display of commercial and amateur wine making awards.
The Des Moines Register listed the “Wine Experience” as the #5 exhibit to visit at the Iowa State Fair and the grape stomping competition as the most fun thing to do at the Iowa State Fair.  Estimates from door counts in Grandfathers Barn showed that approximately 75,000 people visited the inside exhibits over the 11 days of the fair and more walked by and visited the outside exhibits.  Several radio and TV stations ran footage of this exhibit during the State Fair.  The Iowa State Fair staff estimated that just over 1 million people attended the 2009 Iowa State Fair.
136 Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute

Page last updated: October 2,, 2009
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu