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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

Garden tails

The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.

Western Henrico Rotary helps fund Midwives For Haiti Jeep


Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.

The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


An eclectic array of events are taking place this weekend throughout the county. In the West End, we have the Richmond Wedding Expo, the Under the Stars Family Film Series and Henrico Theatre Company’s production of “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” In the eastern part of the county, we have a blood drive at the Eastern Henrico Recreation Center, Gallmeyer Farm’s annual Sweet Corn Festival and an origami workshop at Fairfield Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

New Italian restaurant opens in Short Pump

Charlottesville's Bella’s Restaurant recently opened a location in Short Pump Village, at 11408 West Broad Street. The restaurant is owned by Valeria Biesnti, a native of Rome who arrived in the U.S. at age 21 and later became a U.S. citizen. With her restaurants, Bisenti has sought to create an ambiance that welcomes diners in a casual setting, like her favorites from her hometown. > Read more.

Henrico native to appear on Travel Channel show


A Henrico native will appear on the third episode of the Travel Channel's new grilling competition series “American Grilled.”

The episode, filmed in Charlottesville, will premier July 16 at 9 p.m. and feature Glen Allen-native Rex Holmes, a patent lawyer who operates http://SavoryReviews.com a blo,g centered around tasty recipes and BBQ.

The show features hardcore grilling enthusiasts from across the country going head-to-head for a chance to compete for a $10,000 cash prize and bragging rights when they are crowned the ultimate “grill master.” > Read more.

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Virginia Physicians for Women will offer a program for teen and preteen girls from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at VPFW’s Innsbrook office. There will be an open discussion about… Full text

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