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A toast to Virginia’s record wine sales

Gov. Bob McDonnell has good reason to break open a bottle of Virginia wine and celebrate: Wine produced by the state’s vineyards posted record sales last year.

Virginia wineries sold about 485,000 cases of wine during the 2012 fiscal year, which ended June 30. That was up about 2 percent from the previous record of 477,000 cases in 2011. And wine exports, to both other states and other countries, jumped a combined 39 percent.

“More sales provide more economic development and job creation opportunities, especially for the vineyards, wineries and the many businesses supporting them, like restaurants and bed-and-breakfast establishments, all across the commonwealth,” McDonnell said this week in announcing the sales figures.

The biggest increase was in the export of Virginia wines to other countries, especially the United Kingdom and China. The state wine industry’s international exports quadrupled – from about 700 cases in 2011 to more than 3,300 cases last year.

“Virginia wines continue to be rising stars in the global wine industry,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. He noted that Wine Enthusiast magazine named Virginia as one of the top ten wine destinations in the world.

Katie Hellebush, executive director of the Virginia Wine Council, says the governor and first lady Maureen McDonnell have been “our greatest cheerleaders” in promoting wines from the state’s vineyards.

Sales of Virginia wines to other U.S. states increased 24 percent last year – to more than 14,000 cases.

Virginia is fifth in the country in the number of wineries; there are more than 230 in the Old Dominion. The industry provides jobs for more than 4,700 Virginians and pumps almost $750 million into the state’s economy.

Hellebush said the wine industry could get even bigger with help from the General Assembly.

“We have put forth legislation in the past to create tax credits to be able to provide for growth in the industry,” she said.

“A lot of the equipment people are using is very expensive. And so that is just kind of one more tool in the toolbox for people to be able to use to have some funding to help them grow their business.”

For details, visit the Virginia Wine Marketing Office's website at http://www.virginiawine.org
Community

Celebrating 106 years

Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.

YMCA breaks ground for aquatic center

YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.

Rotary donates to ‘Bright Beginnings’

The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Bottoms up

Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.

The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.

As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.

Cultural Arts Center announces 2014 fall class schedule

The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.

The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.

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