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The governor hopes to promote oysters along with other Virginia products like wine.
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Gov. Terry McAuliffe samples oysters at the Executive Mansion.
Forget Maryland’s crabs, Gov. Terry McAuliffe told a crowd of more than 100 people outside of the Executive Mansion on Tuesday morning. “By the time I’m done as governor, it’s going to be all about Virginia oysters.”
The governor and first lady Dorothy McAuliffe made the rounds to tables flush with oysters harvested from Virginia’s seven oyster regions and wines from state vineyards. The McAuliffes posed for pictures while they sipped wine and sampled the wares. The mid-morning celebration commenced with an announcement of the state’s commitment to strengthening its reputation as the “oyster capital of the East Coast,” as the governor put it.
McAuliffe announced the creation of the Virginia Oyster Trail, an effort to direct tourists to oyster purveyors, raw bars and restaurants throughout the commonwealth. He also declared November to be Virginia Oyster Month. The plan is promote Virginia’s oysters in concert with other local products, like wine, to increase tourism.
Charlie Burrows, business development manager for Ingleside Vineyards in Oak Grove on Virginia’s Northern Neck, says coupling wine and oysters will benefit both industries.
“Nothing goes better with oysters than wine,” Burrows says. “Individually, they’re both doing well [in Virginia], but pairing them together will help them grow exponentially.”
By pairing the state’s two biggest industries, agriculture and tourism, officials hope to spur economic development.
“As we answer the governor’s call to build a new Virginia economy, we must take an inclusive approach by working with some of our oldest businesses, such as our seafood industries, as they continue to provide good jobs and outstanding products,” says Todd Haymore, the state secretary of agriculture and forestry.
Virginia watermen harvested more than 500,000 bushels of oysters in 2013, the largest harvest since 1987 and a 25 percent increase from 2012. The oyster boom contributes to Virginia being the third largest producer of seafood in the United States, behind Alaska and Louisiana, Haymore says.
Editor’s note: The September issue of Richmond magazine features a cover story about Richmond restaurateur Travis Croxton, who plays a central role in Virginia’s growing oyster industry.