Culpeper Star-Exponent: Old House, Horton vineyards awarded $250K in federal grant money

CULPEPER STAR-EXPONENT

Two local producers of adult beverages recently received a half-million dollars in USDA “Value-Added Producer” grants.

Old House Vineyards in Culpeper County and Horton Vineyards in Gordonsville received $250,000 each in awards, announced around Thanksgiving.

At Old House, a family-run operation in Stevensburg since the early 2000s, the grant will be used to boost beer processing capacity and fund marketing initiatives to make it a regional brand, according to a USDA release.

The licensed winery, distillery and brewery run by Kearney family bills itself as “Virginia’s first trifecta,” successfully producing and selling all three products in one location. Grant and matching funds will allow the business to increase inventory and support the vineyard’s continued growth as a destination location for weddings, events and tours, creating one job, according to the release.

Old House recently announced on social media the reopening of its Old House Saturdays this winter.

“We feel there is no better time to reflect on where it all started and appreciate all that has happened over this amazing 25+ year journey,” according to the post. “What began with a 15×15 tasting room in a run-down 1890s farmhouse, dozens of friends planting vines with shovels in more or less straight lines, a few spaghetti dinners for those adventurous wine drinkers taking a chance on us in the early 2000s has evolved into something we as a family and a community can be immensely proud.”

Horton Vineyards in Gordonsville will use its grant award to ramp up marketing activities and processing capacity at the 30-year-old winery nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, according to the USDA.

Horton, located along U.S. Route 33 in Orange County, is the home of the original Virginia Viognier and specializes in small lots of high-quality wines.

The operation is also part of the Monticello Wine Trail, an active group of 40 growers in a 25-mile radius of Charlottesville who have joined forces to promote their national and internationally acclaimed products, according to the USDA. Matching personal funds will support this effort to increase Horton’s retail customer base and sales of their award-winning wines, creating two jobs.

In a release, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, said she was thrilled the USDA awarded Old House Vineyards and Horton Vineyards funding necessary to support continued growth and prosperity.

“As the only Virginian on the House Agriculture Committee, I’m committed to making sure Virginia agribusinesses have what they need to expand their operations and seize new business opportunities. These grants mark a significant stride forward in creating jobs and increasing opportunities in rural Virginia,” she said.

In all, USDA awarded $4 million in the recent grants to eight wineries, two breweries/distilleries, two vegetable operations, three meat and seafood businesses and one goat farm. The geographic area covered spanned from Tazewell to the Eastern Shore.

The 16 projects will create new and better markets for Virginia growers and rural entrepreneurs and strengthen the nation’s food supply chains in the process, according to the USDA. Associated economic opportunities will spur competition, resulting in more affordable prices for consumers, the federal agency said.

“Virginia has consistently ranked among the top states for numbers of awards and funding provided over the past 20-plus years and today’s announcement offers further evidence of that commitment to creating more opportunities and revenue for farmers and rural entrepreneurs,” said Perry Hickman, USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director, in a statement on Nov. 28.

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