Countryside needs more wine

Countryside needs more wine

If you’re worried about the development that’s seeping across Albemarle’s rural areas, Bill Moses offers some reasonable advice: Have a drink.

Last Tuesday, I was partaking of an iced tea while Moses was articulating this notion. It was at the Doubletree Hotel. Moses was the final speaker—over lunch—at a two-day conference on what’s known as Virginia "agritourism." I was present only for Moses’ remarks, but I gather agritourism as a whole has to do with extracting cash and nods of appreciation from tourists that come to gawk at what is so quaintly considered the rustic life, semblances of which are disappearing fast all over the nation.


Wine mogul Bill Moses hinted at a luncheon that county officials should loosen up on winery-event restrictions to help preserve rural land.

Agritourism is good business, and it’s a good way to keep Albemarle’s views lush and uncluttered. As co-head honcho at Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard, out on the scenic roads past Monticello, Moses knows what he’s talking about. He’s been the chair of the Virginia Wine Board, too, and not surprisingly, he deftly married the economic concerns of that fast-rising industry with land use issues. The greater the financial success of wineries, he said, "the less likely they’re going to be developed. This keeps the rural area economically viable."

Moses projects that by 2011 there could be slightly more than 200 wineries in Virginia. The current number is in the 120 range, with the Charlottesville region alone supporting 24 and Albemarle being Virginia’s largest grape-producing region. "New vineyards will be needed to keep up with demand and it really bodes well for Albemarle County and the scenic future of Albemarle County," Moses said. Later, he added, with what I took as a pointed reference to that day’s status as Election Day, "We want everyone to know we’re in favor of rural areas."

The question of conservation easements—arrangements by which rural land is pledged to nondevelopment for perpetuity, or at least a long, long time—came up toward the end. He’s in favor of them, Moses said, citing the 900 acres that he and Patricia Kluge, his wife, have put under easement. "If you believe it’s a generational business," he said of wineries, "put it under easement."

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