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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More