Spanberger Tours Goochland Distillery, Discusses COVID-19 Reopening Challenges Experienced by Small Businesses & Economic Issues Facing Central Virginia Distilleries

At the Distillery, Spanberger was Joined by Representatives from the Virginia Distillers Association, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, & Additional Central Virginia Distillery Owners

GOOCHLAND COUNTY, V.A. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger yesterday toured a Goochland County distillery to learn more about how local businesses are recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and how federal relief efforts — including the American Rescue Plan — have provided much-needed assistance to small businesses in Central Virginia and across the country.

At Hill Top Distillery, Spanberger toured the facility and learned more about several changes that are required to help Central Virginia small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Spanberger also heard about Hill Top Distillery’s experience with the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which Spanberger voted to pass in March 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan. The distillery was recently approved for assistance through the federal program.

During the roundtable discussion, Spanberger was joined by Sherry Brockenbrough, Co-Owner, Hill Top Distillery; John Brockenbrough, Co-Owner, Hill Top Distillery; Barry Haneberg, Founder & Distiller, Virago Spirits, Richmond; Chuck Miller, Master Distiller & Owner, Belmont Farm Distillery, Culpeper; Jeanette Miller, Owner, Belmont Farm Distillery, Culpeper; Rick Wasmund, CEO & Master Distiller, Copper Fox Distillery, Sperryville and Williamsburg; and Jessica Brady, Director of Federal Government Relations, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

“The Seventh District’s small businesses are the drivers of our local economy, and I am proud to see these businesses show strong signs of recovery as we rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis. In Congress, I have been a fervent supporter of critical relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, because I have personally heard and seen how these efforts have kept the doors open and dreams alive for so many family-owned businesses in our communities,” said Spanberger. “I would like to thank Hill Top Distillery for their generous hospitality and for sharing their story of perseverance and hard work — and I would like to thank every Virginia distillery operator who joined our conversation. These discussions help inform my work on Capitol Hill, and they ensure I am working to advance the best interests of Central Virginia’s small businesses, their employees, and the communities they serve.”

“We greatly appreciate that Representative Spanberger took the time to come out to Hill Top Distillery to hear from Virginia distillers about their experiences and challenges throughout the pandemic,” said Christine LoCascio, Chief of Public Policy, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.  “Across Virginia and the entire country, many small distilleries are struggling after a difficult year. Many had their tasting rooms and tours closed for months on end, and fewer Americans enjoyed a cocktail out, traveled or gathered for events. We urge Congress to provide additional economic support for the hospitality industry so that distilleries can get back to generating jobs and supporting their local economies.”


Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Spanberger has worked to deliver immediate relief to Central Virginia’s workers and help cut red tape for Central Virginia small businesses — including craft distilleries.

Spanberger was a cosponsor of and voted to pass the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act, which was signed into law in December 2020 and made permanent the federal excise tax cut on distilled spirts that was enacted in 2017. Last year, Spanberger joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues in urging Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy to pass this legislation in the end-of-year funding agreement – particularly as brewers and distillers would’ve faced a significant increase in their federal excise taxes at a time when so many struggled to stay open and keep employees on the payroll.

During a visit to Three Crosses Distilling Company in Powhatan County in August 2020, Spanberger spoke about changes required to help Central Virginia businesses adapt and innovate in response to COVID-19 — including the need to extend and make permanent the federal excise tax cut.

And in March 2020, Spanberger joined a bipartisan effort urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to cut red tape and allow producers of distilled spirits to continue manufacturing hand sanitizer with current supplies in response to shortages caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.


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