UACES Facebook Survey finds grape variety an important factor in wine selection for Arkansas wine consumers
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Survey finds grape variety an important factor in wine selection for Arkansas wine consumers

Results bode well for state industry

March 25, 2022

By Mary Hightower
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast facts

  • Arkansas Quality Wine program follow-up survey
  • Survey link will remain open until April 30

(627 words)

(Newsrooms — with file art,

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — When it comes to choosing a wine, Arkansans look to three factors: cost, place of origin and grape variety, according to a survey conducted by the Arkansas Quality Wine program.

The survey was conducted between February and April 2021 to understand consumer wine purchasing and consumption habits and perceptions of the quality of Arkansas-made commercial wines. More than 270 people responded to the survey.

Three wine researchers at a table at a tasting.
WINE TASTING — Grape and wine researchers from the Food Science Department at the University of Arkansas System of Division of Agriculture led a vertical tasting of Arkansas Quality Wines at the Bakery District in Fort Smith, Arkansas, last year. (left to right Andrea Myers and Amanda Fleming, graduate students and Renee Threlfall, research scientist) (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo)

“It’s a sign that wine consumers are becoming more educated about differences among varietals and being more selective,” said Renee Threlfall. “That bodes well for the industry and indicates that we are headed in the right direction in terms of the perception of Arkansas wines.”

Threlfall, a food science researcher with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is leading the Arkansas Quality Wine program. The work is part of Threlfall’s appointment in the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

Nearly half of respondents — 49 percent — thought Arkansas wineries produce quality wines, while 91 percent preferred to purchase wines made with Arkansas-grown grapes. Of those surveyed, 81 percent had purchased Arkansas wines.

The survey also found that

  • 80 percent have visited Arkansas wineries,
  • 53 percent thought it important to purchase locally made wine.

“This survey is really an important step for the grape and wine industry in Arkansas,” Threlfall said. “Arkansas grape growers and wine producers can use survey results to improve grape and wine quality perception using targeted marketing strategies.”

The survey is part of the research done by Amanda Fleming, a graduate student in the food science department. Fleming is winemaker at one of the state’s oldest wineries, Post in Altus. The Colorado native took her first wine industry job at Deerfield Ranch Winery in California’s Sonoma County.

“Arkansas wine consumers want to purchase wines made in Arkansas but are inhibited by a perceived lack of quality,” she said. “The work of the Arkansas Quality Wine program is a step to helping the industry produce the best wines it can and helping consumers understand how good Arkansas wines really are.”

The project team worked with the Arkansas Association of Grape Growers to implement the first annual AQW wine competition last May for commercial wine produced in Arkansas with Arkansas-grown grapes. Eight wineries submitted 52 wines for the wine competition, with 32 wines receiving medals, and 15 wines earning AQW status and receiving marketing and promotional items such as banners, seals, and shelf-talkers — small signage that appears in front of the shelf providing extra visibility. The program also hosted wine tastings in Little Rock, Springdale and Fort Smith for wines that earned AQW status.

Most of the survey respondents, 65 percent, were female aged 21-70. More than 90 percent of the respondents were wine consumers, with the remainder being grape growers and/or wine producers.

When it comes to consumption habits:

  • 31 percent drank red and white wine 2-4 times a month
  • 38 percent drank a rose or blush wine less than once a month.
  • Slightly more than 89 percent purchased wine for their own consumption with family and for special occasions.

The Arkansas Quality Wine program is rolling out a follow-up to its 2021 survey to help gauge consumer awareness and consumption of commercially produced, Arkansas-made wine.

The survey may be found here: The survey will remain open until April 30, 2022.

AQW was established in 2020 as a two-year program to help advance the Arkansas grape and wine industry. It was funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.

“This year, we hope to have the same number of survey responses as 2021, or much more!” Threlfall said. “Not only does the survey benefit the grape and wine industry and wine consumers, but they are also a rich source of information for my research.”

To learn more about the AQW program, visit or

Research information

This request for participation in research has been approved by the University of Arkansas Institutional Review Board. For questions about this survey, please contact: Renee Threlfall, Food Science Department, UA System, 479-575-4677 or

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. 

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.  

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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