News / USA

Business Booming in Virginia Wine Country

Karem Baki of the Hillsborough Vinery in Purcellville, Virginia
Karem Baki of the Hillsborough Vinery in Purcellville, Virginia

Multimedia

Susan Logue

The economic recession has been causing many Americans to cut back on their spending in recent years. But one thing Americans have NOT been spending less on is their wine. While the figures are not in yet for 2010, the Beverage Information Group estimates that U.S. wine consumption was up for the 17th year in a row. Americans are also buying more domestically-produced than imported wines, and it’s not all from California’s famed West Coast vineyards. Our reporter visited one wine-growing region that is hoping to become the Napa Valley of the East, just a short drive from Washington, D.C.

Last year, about 12,000 people came to Hillsborough Winery in Purcellville, Virginia - about 80 kilometers from Washington - to taste its wines.  Even in a recession, business has been good, according to owner Bora Baki.

“We have a saying in Turkish - I don't know if you translate this properly - ‘When you are in sorrow you drink, when you are happy you drink.’ So even if the economy was bad, people find a way of enjoying themselves at least with a glass of wine,” said Baki.

Baki did not plan on running a winery when he came to the United States from Turkey in 1979.  He was ready to retire from the import business when his son Karem persuaded him to go into wine-making 10 years ago.

“I was graduating my college, my undergraduate degree, and we were both looking for something to do,” said Karem Baki.

Karem went on to get a graduate degree in winemaking.  He not only makes wine for the family business, but for other vineyards in Virginia as well.

“With the different regions in Virginia, you have almost perfect conditions," added Karem Baki.  We, of course, have our own issues and complications, but as far as the potential for a grape-growing region, it is quite great.”

When Hillsborough opened in 2003, it was the 96th winery in Virginia.  Today, that number has grown to 190.

Ann Heidig is president of the Virginia Wineries Association.  She opened Lake Anna Winery in 1990, when Virginia had only about a dozen wineries:

“I think the quality of Virginia wines has attracted some larger investors to come in and want to start growing grapes and making wine in Virginia," noted Heidig.  "Even from California we have a couple of people that have come in to start wineries here.  I think they see it as an opportunity, because it is a young industry and it is growing, and also it is a viable industry, I believe, in the state for agriculture.”

Although a few Virginia wineries produce as many as 40,000 cases of wine per year, most are small.  They average between 2500 and 5000 cases, 60 percent of which is sold at the winery.

Tourism drives the wine industry here, says Pandit Patil, who along with his wife Sudha, opened Narmada Winery in Amissville in November 2009.

“In five years, I want everybody to think this is a destination, and that is what we are working towards,” said Patil.

Like many wineries in Virginia, Narmada is surrounded by beautiful scenery.  And it has live music on Saturdays and Sundays.  It also offers something no other local winery does.

“We have a unique thing being of Indian background.  Some of our wines can be paired very nicely with the Indian foods that we serve here just as snacks,” noted Sudha Patil of the Narmada Winery.

Sudha has been making wine since 2008.  She has already garnered several medals in competitions.  That recognition may become increasingly important to Narmada if the Virginia wine industry continues to expand.

But Annette Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office, says the market is far from saturated.

“This can’t go on indefinitely, but for right now with the trends in consumption going up, the interest in local wines and knowing what is being produced in your own back yard is growing," said Boyd.  "We have a long way to go I think before we reach that point.”
For now, Virginia winemakers like Karem Baki… and Sudha Patil will focus on making the best wines their vineyards can produce.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid