Sparkling wine is on its way to Nelson County, Governor Ralph Northam’s office announced last week.

Virginia Sparkling Company will invest $590,000 and create six new jobs to establish a new sparkling wine production facility in Nelson County according to a news release from Northam’s office on Oct. 28.

“The company will source exclusively from Virginia and is committing to purchase 168 tons of Virginia grapes over the next three years. This facility will be an important new asset for Virginia’s craft beverage industry, providing partner wineries a new high-quality product for engaging their customers,” the release said.

Virginia Sparkling Company is an affiliate of Veritas Vineyard & Winery, at 151 Veritas Lane, Afton. The new production facility will be located at 10368 Critzer Shop Road in Afton in a former textile mill, which also houses the tasting room for another Veritas affiliate, Flying Fox Vineyard and Winery. The new production facility will allow Veritas and other wineries in the region to produce sparkling wine from the grapes and wine they have.

Virginia Sparkling Company CEO George Hodson said this new production facility is a step forward not just for Veritas, but for all wine producers in the area.

“The Virginia wine industry as a whole is constantly trying to work together. So we’re excited at the opportunity to improve the quality of wine everywhere,” Hodson said.

Hodson said the demand from both a consumer and producer side is an issue across the Commonwealth, which is why his company has been fighting for this. Hodson said the equipment to make sparkling wine is so specialized and a lot of times wineries won’t take the leap to buy equipment.

“They might want the product, but it doesn’t make economic sense to buy the equipment,” Hodson said. “They will now have access to that equipment.”

Hodson said wineries can bring their own grapes or already produced wine to the production facility, where Virginia Sparkling Wine will work with them to produce their own sparkling wine.

“However they want to do it, we will partner with them. So many want the option and this gives them the outlet,” Hodson said.

The newest addition to Nelson County’s agritourism business is made possible because of an Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development facility grant. This is the first AFID grant awarded to a company in Nelson County while Northam has been in office and Nelson County will match the $40,000 through local funds.

“It’s wonderful news for Nelson County. Credit goes to the Hodson family for their investment in Nelson and continued expansion and diversity of their business to create more jobs,” Steve Carter, county administrator, said.

Hodson said they actually began the process of working with state agencies to apply for the grant years ago, and just a few months ago found out they had been awarded the funds. The rest of the fourth quarter the company will focus on getting the necessary equipment in place and hopefully the beginning of next year they can begin production. In terms of visible changes or tangible impact along Virginia 151, Hodson said the public will see next to none.

“Hopefully it will be a step forward not just for us, but for everyone in the wine industry,” Hodson said.

Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.

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