One of the most surprising things Stan Joynes learned after entering the local wine business is how much camaraderie there is among vineyard owners and winemakers. It’s not a “zero-sum game,” he says—when one business is successful, they all benefit.
About two years ago, Joynes started thinking it was time to do something different. He had helped found Richmond law firm LeClairRyan, and although he was passionate about his work, he knew he needed a change. He and his wife, Barbara, had a second home in Wintergreen and visited many of the local wineries while here.
They started looking for land in both Albemarle and Nelson counties, and heard that the former amFOG Farms property on Route 151 in Nelson County was for sale. They bought it the same day they saw it last fall, and started their winery, Valley Road Vineyards, with four other couples from Charlottesville and Richmond.
Joynes says he received lots of guidance from locals in the industry, including Ellen King, co-owner of King Family Vineyards. Because it takes two to three years for grapes to mature (Valley Road planted one acre each of sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, chardonnay and petit verdot grapes in April), King suggested they consult with her winemaker, Matthieu Finot, on sourcing surplus grapes for their first bottling.
With Finot at the helm, Valley Road has bottled 2,000 cases of six wines: viognier, chardonnay, Destana (viognier, chardonnay and petit manseng blend), rosé, merlot and a 2014 meritage, which will be available during the vineyard’s grand opening weekend August 19-21. Other wines from the vineyard include a pinot gris, a second viognier, a petit verdot, a viognier-based sparkling wine and a red “spaghetti wine” in the fall.
The property’s previous life as a farm is still evident—the “industrial chic” tasting room has concrete floors and distressed wood walls, and the patina tin covering the front of the bar was part of an equipment shed on the property. In addition, the vineyard is hosting a weekly farmers market from 3-7pm on Thursdays as a way to showcase local vendors and bring the community together.
“(Agriculture) is the ultimate sustainable activity because the community helps each other,” Joynes says. “I think that is very true in the wine business for most people—there’s an abundance mentality. …It’s just instinctively part of the culture here. It’s great to be a part of.”
Deschutes Brewery and Blue Ridge Beverage Company held a launch party celebrating the brewery’s Roanoke brewery (projected to open in 2021) July 28 at Second Street Gallery. Deschutes beers started hitting taps and stores in western Virginia August 1. On tap at the event were some of the beers you can find in our area, including the Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, Fresh Squeezed IPA and Pinedrops IPA, as well as samples of more rare beers, including Mirror Mirror barley wine ale, Smoked Gose, The Dissident (Belgian-style brown ale) and Green Monster (a sour beer with dried fruit notes).