March 10, 2014
A Central Virginia wine festival kicked off Thursday with an event recognizing winning wines and announcing a future area wine center.
The three-day Taste of Monticello Wine Trail Festival kicked off with the Monticello Cup awards at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville.
Winery workers and the public could talk and taste area wines.
"It's where our industry gets to celebrate all of our hard work," said Elizabeth Smith, the president of the Jeffersonian Wine Grape Growers Society, the parent company for the Monticello Wine Trail, and one of the owners of Afton Mountain Vineyards. "It's a big, exciting night for everybody...we leave our boots and jeans behind for one night and come out and enjoy eachothers' wines and hope that the public is here to enjoy it as well in such a nice, elegant setting."
Congressman Robert Hurt and Albemarle County Supervisor Ann Mallek attended. Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore presented the Monticello Cup to Trump Winery for its 2009 Sparkling Rosé. Jefferson Vineyards also received special mention for their Estate Reserve 2010.
Haymore also presented Emeritus Member status to Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards, Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards, and Felicia Rogan from the former Oakcroft Vineyards.
"They were all extremely instrumental in founding our organization in the late 70's," Smith said.
Secretary Haymore also updated those in attendance about a potential new project for the state wine industry. Haymore announced that, due to a feasibility study's promising results, the government will move forward in creating a wine center in the Charlottesville and Albemarle area.
"That study has determined that there is a viable market opportunity for establishing a wine center in this community and provided compelling justification to move on with a Phase 2 assessment to take a much more detailed look at developing a credible business and operating plan, planning a facility that is optimally sited, sized and costed, and establishing partnerships and a governance structure that will support a sustainable operation. We are very excited about the Virginia Wine Center's potential premier to promote our state's status as a wine producer and wine destination and to contribute to the additional economic development of the Commonwealth," Haymore said.
"This is such a collegial industry. It's really important that we're all out here to raise the bar on Virginia wine. So, the more we know about each other's wines, the more we can promote the best and the most-award winning wines," said Smith. "It's all good for all of us. So, we're all here to celebrate."
The weekend continues with events including winemaker dinners Friday night and a wine tasting Saturday afternoon. For the wine where's and when's, visit the Monticello Wine Trail's festival website.