Thirst For Local Wine Rises
Valley Vintners Enjoy Fruitful Year In 2012
Posted: January 17, 2013
Terry Tucker, office manager at Bluestone Vineyard in Bridgewater, prepares wine for shipment to customers on Wednesday. The vineyard reports that sales for the winery doubled from 2011 to 2012. (Photos by Nikki Fox / DN-R)
Lee Hartman, general manager and winemaker at Bluestone Vineyard, gets a palate of wine ready for transport on Wednesday. “I feel like part of [the success] is a statewide pride in Virginia wine,” said Hartman of the increase in sales at the winery for 2012.
While those rail lines were taken up years ago, the country-style sweet red and the industry that backs it are headed in quite a different direction.
At only two years old, Bluestone can barely keep up with demand.
Workers used to start bottling Crooked and Weedy midyear but they couldn’t afford to take their time this year. They’ll start the process this month.
The winery will fill nearly 10,000 bottles of it this year, compared to 7,000 in 2011.
“We can’t get enough grapes for that,” said owner Curt Hartman. “The demand is so high.”
Sales for the winery doubled from 2011 to last year.
“I feel like part of [the success] is a statewide pride in Virginia wine,” said Lee Hartman, winemaker and manager. “[And] some people are starting to realize that local wine is local food.”
The increase in thirst for Virginia wine has made producers more quality-driven, he added.
The Hartmans’ story is similar to many around the state.
Gov. Bob McDonnell’s office announced Monday that sales of Virginia wine reached an all-time high last fiscal year with an increase of about 1.6 percent from the previous year.
A total of 230 wineries in the commonwealth — including nearly 30 in the Valley — produced almost 485,000 cases of wine in fiscal 2012.
More than 25 of those wineries are less than a year old, including the Winery at Kindred Pointe in Mount Jackson.
In addition, the amount of Virginia wine sold outside the state increased by nearly 40 percent between fiscal 2011 and 2012.
Annette Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, attributes the uptick of Virginia wine sales to a host of factors.
The state is a day’s drive from two-thirds of the U.S. population, and its proximity to Washington, D.C. — a major metro market — is certainly helping, Boyd said. The local food movement also has sent people local wine’s way, she notes.
Plus, the increase in competition and interest in Virginia wine has naturally caused better-quality wine to emerge.
“As far as sales are concerned, we’ve been increasing steadily since we opened,” said Nikoo Bakhtiar, owner of CrossKeys Vineyards in Cross Keys. The business officially opened in 2008.
Bakhtiar reported a 7 percent uptick in sales between 2011 and last year.
“Overall, the state of Virginia is becoming known as a place where a lot of work and special attention goes into making a bottle of wine,” she said.
The four-year-old Wisteria Farm and Vineyard in Luray hasn’t been left in the dust, either.
“Each year has been more successful than the previous year so far,” said owner Sue Ishak.
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