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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs