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During a July 2012 visit to “D.C.’s Wine Country” in Loudoun County, Virginia’s Agriculture Secretary Todd Haymore said the wines of Virginia are no longer a hidden gem. Recently-unveiled data from the governor’s office helps prove Haymore’s point.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Monday that 2012 was a record year for Virginia wine sales.

Nearly 485,000 cases of the commonwealth’s wine were sold in fiscal 2012, up almost 8,000 from the previous year. In the past three fiscal years, Virginia wine sales have averaged more than 8 percent annual growth, according to McDonnell’s office.

“More and more individuals continue to buy Virginia wine, and more and more new jobs continue to be created because of that,” McDonnell said in a prepared statement. “This growth is a testament to our grape growers and winemakers, who are producing world-class wines, which I have been pleased to help promote here and around the world.”

Currently the fifth largest wine grape producer in the nation, as well as the state with the fifth most wineries, Virginia’s wine industry has seen steady growth in the past decade. According to a 2012 economic impact study, the commonwealth’s wine business employs more than 4,700 people and contributes more than $700 million annually to the state’s economy.

“Virginia wines continue to be rising stars in the global wine industry,” Haymore said this week. “From being named one of the Top 10 wine destinations in the world by Wine Enthusiast to having our wines served in India, Israel, Sweden, Montreal, London, San Francisco, and New York City, the last fiscal year saw a lot of new recognition and opportunities for the Virginia wine industry.”

Old Dominion wine exports were a key highlight from the record year. More than 3,300 cases of Virginia vin was shipped out of country in fiscal 2012, a more than 300 percent increase from 2011. Much of the international sales were driven by the markets in China and the United Kingdom, according to the governor’s office. Last year was the first year wines from the commonwealth were sold to mainland China.

In July, the secretary of agriculture was joined by first lady of Virginia Maureen McDonnell, several travel writers and representatives from Virginia Wine. The trip was part of Maureen McDonnell’s FLITE venture — the First Lady’s Initiatives Team Effort — that aims to recognize programs, activities, organization or individuals who embody the ideal of getting involved and giving back.

Loudoun County currently houses more than 30 of the estimated 200 wineries in the commonwealth, including Dry Mill Vineyards in Leesburg.

Dry Mill owner Dean Vanhuss said he was pleased with business in 2012, but there’s always room for improvement.

“It was a fine year, but we didn’t quite get where I wanted to be,” Vanhuss said.

Dry Mill produced around 1,400 cases in 2012 and has capacity for several hundred more, Vanhuss said. He noted that many of Loudoun and the state’s wineries have garnered accolades in competitions like the San Diego International Wine Competition, the London International Wine Fair and the International Eastern Wine Competition.

“We’ve got some great wines here, many of them have earned awards in some form or fashion. We’re a small operation, so it’s personable and friendly,” Vanhuss said.