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Waynesboro’s Blue Ridge Bucha passion brews in new owner

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

Blue Ridge Bucha
Blue Ridge Bucha founders Kate and Ethan Zuckerman on the left and new owner Hank Heyming on the right. Photo courtesy Blue Ridge Bucha.

WAYNESBORO — Original Ginger, Jasmine Grape, Elderflower Sunrise, Bluegrass Bucha, Black Raspberry or Wild Pear, whatever your poison, Blue Ridge Bucha has a flavor for it.

In late November, Hank Heyming of Richmond purchased the flavors.

Heyming and his wife ran a successful furniture business in the early 2000s until the Great Recession hit.

“I really enjoyed running my own business,” Heyming said.

He went to California for a few years, worked in the technology industry and later sold a technology company.

“So, really since 2017 I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open to something,” Heyming said.

But, that something had to be interesting and give him an opportunity to run his own business again.

“I love kombucha,” Heyming said.

Blue Ridge Bucha was his favorite kombucha and he was familiar with the company’s story.

Heyming owns a condo in Wintergreen, and when he heard earlier this year that Blue Ridge Bucha was for sale he “jumped” at the opportunity.

Negotiations began in April and were complete by Nov. 19.

“So, when I saw the opportunity to purchase the business in Waynesboro, I saw in my mind to move to Wintergreen,” he said.

Blue Ridge Bucha will be Heyming’s sole business possession. He is a partner in Trolley Ventures, a venture capital firm in Richmond, but he looks forward to working “eight days a week, 26 hours a day” running the Waynesboro kombucha business.

Heyming has plans for the business’s growth, but staff will not change, and neither will the business’s foundation of sustainability and maintaining a small carbon footprint.

Blue Ridge Bucha’s previous owners had reasons to discourage the business’s growth.

“I, on the other hand, want to grow. That’s exciting to me,” Heyming said.

One idea Heyming has is to create a hard kombucha — a variety of kombucha that is an alcoholic beverage, and compete with local seltzers, hard ciders and beers, “but still have that great kombucha [taste] and probiotics.”

He would also like to expand Blue Ridge Bucha’s products further into Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

“I’m just really excited to grow this [business], and, hopefully, we can become the next big success out of the Richmond main corridor.”

Heyming said he has plans for growth of Blue Ridge Bucha, but no intention of the business leaving Waynesboro.

“I mean it’s called Blue Ridge Bucha. You can’t take it out of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” Heyming said.

Founded in 2010, Ethan and Kate Zuckerman opened Blue Ridge Bucha in Waynesboro in 2018.

When the Nelson County couple hit the 10-year mark since the business’s founding, they realized they had spent their 30s raising two kids and running a successful business.

“I’ve been actually thinking about it prior to the pandemic,” Kate Zuckerman said of the couple’s decision to sell the business and pursue a new business adventure.

The Zuckermans are looking at potential ideas while homeschooling their children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have a few ideas that we’re kicking around,” Kate Zuckerman said, but no firm plans have been made.

Zuckerman said that if not for the pandemic, she and her family would travel right now while they have the time.

“We’re grateful just to have a little bit of time to spend with the kids,” she said.

Zuckerman said that she and her husband were grateful for the warm reception their business received from Waynesboro and the Shenandoah Valley.

“The business was doing well, and we were enjoying running it,” she said.

But earlier this year they began looking for the right person to take over.

“I would just encourage people if they haven’t [visited] to do so and support it,” Zuckerman said.

Blue Ridge Bucha is at 1809 E. Main Street in Waynesboro.

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