A new report from The Garden State Wine Growers Association shows an increase of almost 40 percent in the economic impact of New Jersey's wine industry on the state between 2011 and 2016.

Executive Director Tom Cosentino says the report shows that impact amounted to $323 million in local wine commerce in 2016, up from $231 million in 2011.

"Wine production has increased since 2011 by over 73 percent and that is largely from the newer wineries."

That increase totals out to more than 702,000 gallons, up from about 406,000 gallon in 2011. The state has 50 wineries.

"What we are seeing, and what we saw in this report, which encouraged us, are solid economic growth numbers for the past four or five years that have shown the curve that our industry has taken."

According to Cosentino, the one number that was slightly down was tourism.

"But what we are looking at is, that is where the opportunity lies. If our wine industry can be integrated more into tourism, we can grow these numbers even more and really benefit the state."

He says Jersey wines have been garnering medals and winning global competitions, and let's not discount the "word of mouth" factor among wine aficionados.

"These growth numbers are really attributable to some great New Jersey local wine ambassadors who are really helping to spread the word."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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