RCBI initiative to expand use of specialty crops in craft beverage production

West Virginia’s burgeoning craft beverage industry is getting a boost from a new Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) initiative to expand the use of specialty crops in state-made drinks.

“The number of craft beverage producers in West Virginia has nearly tripled since 2014,” said Bill Woodrum, director of entrepreneurship and agricultural programs at RCBI. “We want to help residents capitalize on this momentum and connect them to local sources for their ingredients.”

RCBI is teaming with Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Moorefield and Unlimited Future and the Wild Ramp in Huntington on the statewide effort to expand cultivation of specialty crops for the craft beverage market, connect growers to bottlers that need specialty crops and promote the use of locally grown fruits, vegetables, berries and herbs to produce craft beverages.

The collaboration will include a series of networking events, seminars focusing on specialty crop production and their utilization in craft beverages and spirits, as well as an extensive marketing campaign to promote the growing of specialty crops and their use in beverage production.
“Our goal is help at least 200 state farmers boost sales of the crops they already grow or expand by growing new specialty crops while encouraging bottlers to create additional product lines,” Woodrum said. “We believe these efforts will result in meaningful sales increases for both farmers and craft beverage producers.”

Funding for the project is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is administered by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture. For more information, contact Woodrum at or 304.781.1670.

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