Monroe Bay Vineyard LLC to become one of Virginia’s first winery, cidery operations
The company will invest more than $385,000 to build a tasting room and production facility for its wine and hard cider operations, creating seven new jobs in the region. In addition, Monroe Bay Vineyard will purchase more than $1.4 million in Virginia-grown grapes, apples and other fruit over the next five years. This is the first economic development announcement in Westmoreland County during Governor McAuliffe’s administration and the first Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) facility grant announcement for the county.
Speaking about the announcement, Governor McAuliffe stated, “I am pleased to announce Monroe Bay Vineyard’s investment in Westmoreland County, which creates new jobs and new opportunities for the Virginia wine and cider industries, two of the faster growing sectors of Virginia’s agricultural economy. This investment bolsters Virginia’s reputation as a top wine destination on the East Coast and highlights the importance of the growing link between agriculture and tourism on the Northern Neck. This project, with its capital investment, new jobs and strong commitment to sourcing locally, represents another economic win for the region. My administration is committed to fully employing our diverse agriculture industry, one of the Commonwealth’s greatest assets, to help build the new Virginia economy. ”
Established in 2013, Monroe Bay Vineyard produces wine and hard cider next to James Monroe’s birthplace near the town of Colonial Beach in Westmoreland County. The company will expand its existing vineyard and orchard, working directly with Virginia producers to grow more than $1.4 million in grapes, apples and other fruit, or approximately 84 percent of its total agriculture needs, over the next five years. This expansion will enable the company to dramatically increase production of its wines and hard ciders.
“It’s great to see Westmoreland County continuing to develop and diversify its agricultural economy,” added First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, who also attended the announcement. “Connecting locally grown food with locally produced wines and ciders, along with craft beer and distilled spirits, represents a huge opportunity to further leverage Virginia’s culinary resources for tourism and economic impact. High quality products, like the ones Monroe Bay Vineyard is producing, contribute significantly to growing the new Virginia economy, and I am pleased that customers across the region will have access to these Virginia-grown products.”
“This expansion for Monroe Bay Vineyard represents another step forward for Virginia as we cement our reputation as key players in the nation’s wine and cider sectors,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, who announced the grant on behalf of Governor McAuliffe. “Virginia wine sales are up by more 25 percent since 2010, and sales of Virginia cider increased more than 200 percent from 2014 to 2015. Indeed, these craft beverages and others are contributing positively to cities and rural communities across the Commonwealth, adding to the Governor’s call to build a new Virginia economy. I am pleased that the AFID fund was able to support this project, the first economic development announcement in Westmoreland since April 2013.”
The Commonwealth is partnering with the Northern Neck Planning District Commission, Westmoreland County and Monroe Bay Vineyard on this project through the Governor’s AFID Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Governor McAuliffe approved a $30,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist with the project, which Westmoreland County is matching with local grant funds.
Kiki Apple, owner of Monroe Bay Vineyard, added, “We are honored to have the funding to bring our dream of a tasting room on the Monroe Bay to reality. We are the first winery on the Northern Neck to offer hard apple cider in addition to our wines. Being located on the land of James Monroe Birthplace Farm, our goal is to restore it back to a working orchard, and we have already planted ‘Virginia Hughes Crab’ apples in the orchard – the same variety James Monroe grew and loved.”
“The Northern Neck Planning District Commission is delighted for the strong support of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund for a winery and cidery facility in Westmoreland County,” said Jerry W. Davis, Executive Director of the Northern Neck Planning District Commission. “The Northern Neck Economic Development Plan identifies small business growth and entrepreneurship as priorities for the region, along with continued support of the tourism sector and products made in the Northern Neck. Small businesses such as Monroe Bay Vineyard continue the Northern Neck’s agricultural tradition, provide places of interest for visitors, and augment existing efforts to brand the Northern Neck as a heritage area.”
Senator Richard H. Stuart (R- Montross) commented, “This is a very exciting opportunity for Westmoreland County. Both the wine and cider industries have grown immensely here in the Commonwealth and have been significant contributors to Virginia’s agriculture and tourism industries. I am thrilled for the Northern Neck to partake in this great economic development.”
Delegate Margaret B. Ransone (R – Kinsale) added, “I’m pleased that the AFID fund could help support the important and growing wine and cider industries in the Northern Neck. The partnership between Monroe Bay Vineyards and Westmoreland County encourages economic development, and I look forward to this initiative and its future success.”
According to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 people and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. Nationwide, Virginia is in the top five states in number of wineries and wine grape production. In 2015, Virginia wine sales reached an all-time high of more than 524,000 cases, or nearly 6.3 million bottles. More than 1.6 million tourists visited Virginia wineries in 2015.