Virginia announces new Oyster Trail — wine included
If Virginia wasn’t already synonymous with the oyster that bears its name, state officials hope it will be soon.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced this week the creation of a Virginia Oyster Trail, a major tourism initiative that aims to connect travelers in the state to its fast growing oyster industry.
The trail features the state’s seven unique oyster-growing regions and the nuances in their flavors — from buttery to sweet to salty. It will also direct visitors to restaurants, places to stay and wineries that complement the oyster-eating experience.
Virginia’s tourism office already features more than a dozen regional wine trails, and First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe pointed out in the press release how well the two go together. McAuliffe said he also sees the trail as an opportunity to promote a growing facet of the state’s marine products sector.
“In addition to growing, harvesting and selling the best oysters, our watermen are providing good jobs in their communities, generating revenue and tax dollars throughout their region, and helping improve the environment of the Chesapeake Bay as their oysters filter millions of gallons of water each day,” McAuliffe said in the release.
Virginia now produces the largest quantity of fresh wild-caught and farm-raised oysters in the country. Its harvest grew by 25 percent from 2012 to 2013, with more than 500,000 bushels hitting the market. That’s the most oysters this state has produced in nearly a generation, the state says, and provides reason to think the tides have turned in favor of Virginia’s next oyster moment.
The dockside value of the oyster harvest in 2013 was more than $22 million, up from about $16 million the year before.
McAuliffe also named November Virginia Oyster Month — look out for a series of kickoff events then — and he declared the state to be “the Oyster Capital of the East Coast.” Afterall, consider the native oyster's name: Crassostrea virginica.
Soon, Virginians will be able to add a new bumper sticker to their car as part of the campaign: “Virginia is for Oyster Lovers.”
Learn more about the oyster trail, including tidbits about the seven growing regions, here.