Mixed News for Virginia Wine Industry

Sweely Winery to be auctioned next week; Paradise Springs expands

by Linda Jones McKee
paradise springs winery
About 150 guests including Todd P. Haymore, Virginia's secretary of agriculture and forestry, listen to remarks from Kirk Wiles during the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Paradise Springs Winery, which Wiles opened with his mother, Jane Kincheloe.
Madison, Va.—After weeks of media fascination with the Kluge Estate and Winery auction in Virginia, magnified by Donald Trump’s ultimate purchase for cents on the dollar, the state’s industry is generating more news, some not so good, but some much more hopeful.

On the downside, another winery comes to the auction block next week. On May 11 at 11 a.m., the Sweely Winery in Madison, Va., will be sold by the auction house Transon Fox. The winery, owned by Jess and Sharon Sweely, had been scheduled for a foreclosure auction in November 2010, but that auction was cancelled eight days prior to the event. Sweely announced at that time that previously scheduled activities such as weddings and catered events would be held as planned, but the winery did not make any wine during the 2010 harvest.

The property, located at 6109 Wolftown-Hood Road, consists of 295 acres, with nearly 40 acres planted in vineyards. The winery production building was designed as an innovative, three-level, gravity-flow facility. Built in 2006, the winery has more than 27,000 square-feet of space and is capable of producing 25,000 to 30,000 cases of wine per year. A 17,904-square-foot hospitality center with a retail boutique, art gallery and a culinary center with a commercial grade kitchen was constructed in 2009.

The auction includes two contiguous parcels of land zoned A1C1; buildings, furniture, fixtures and equipment. For additional information, contact Jeff Stein at jstein@tranzon.com, David Lowry at dlowry@tranzon.com, or phone (888) 621-2110.

Paradise Springs Winery: New 12,000-square-foot facility
Some wine news emanating from Virginia is more positive. On April 27, Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton held a grand opening and ribbon-cutting celebration for its new 12,000-square-foot production facility and tasting room. Todd P. Haymore, Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry, was on hand to give the keynote remarks, and several local politicians including the chairman of Fairfax County, Sharon Bulova, and supervisor Pat Herrity also attended the celebration.

While the attendance of governmental officials is not unusual at such events, in the case of Paradise Springs Winery it reflects how far the winery has come in the past several years. It was only after an extended legal battle with local zoning officials that Jane Kincheloe and her son Kirk Wiles were able to open Fairfax County’s first—and still only—winery in January 2010.

The county deputy zoning administrator initially told Kincheloe and Wiles that because they planned to manufacture wine and purchase some of their grapes, the winery could operate only on land zoned for industrial use. Their farm, part of the family’s original land grant from Lord Fairfax in the 1700s, consisted of 36 acres that was zoned residential-conservation.

After the story broke in the Washington Post, county supervisors passed emergency legislation to allow farm wineries to be established in Fairfax County, and the plans for Paradise Springs Winery moved forward.

Kincheloe and Wiles opened the winery in January 2010 and used a log cabin built in the 1700s and renovated by a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1950s as their tasting room. Then in September 2010 the winery received major recognition when it won the Virginia Governor’s Cup for White Wine for its 2009 Chardonnay, the only winery in Virginia to win a Governor’s Cup in its first year of operation.

Meanwhile, the owners proceeded with plans for a modern winemaking facility with a barrel room and a larger tasting area. The new building has two levels, with much of the wine production area underground, and a tasting room upstairs with a 40-foot tasting bar and a view through a glass wall to the barrel room beyond. In addition, there is a covered deck and patio with a stone fireplace.

While the wine production area is state-of-the-art, the building is designed to resemble a historic red barn already on the estate. Paradise Springs Winery produced about 3,500 cases of wine during the 2010 harvest, and the new production facility will allow winery to grow to 8,000-10,000 cases.

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