Wine Lovers and Beer Lovers Can Now Enjoy Tastings Together
Love wine? Love beer? Love both? Check out the new trends in Virginia’s wine community that are opening up the industry to even more people, opportunities…and animals.
Breweries and Wineries Side By Side
One trend we’re starting to see is Virginia wineries offering a selection of craft beer and wine on the same premises, thanks to a ruling change. Three local favorites are already on board: Hillsborough Winery, Brewery & Vineyard; Barrel Oak Winery and the Barrel Oak Farm Taphouse; and Quattro Goomba’s Winery and Brewery, now licensed as farm breweries as well as farm wineries. This means they can serve both wine and beer in their tasting rooms.
“In 2014, the General Assembly passed the law allowing the new licensing designation for farm breweries; before that, they were commercial and had to have separate facilities,” explained Brian Roeder, founder/proprietor at Barrel Oak, one of the people behind the law change, and the first to get the farm brewery license.
“Prior to this law change, you had to have separate ABC licenses,” added Kerem Baki, General Manager of Wine Production at Hillsborough. “If I had my farm winery license posted in my winery tasting room, I couldn’t have a brewery license as well. Now the law allows co-inhabitation of two different licenses and that wine and beer can be served and enjoyed side by side in the tasting rooms.”
Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) reported in 2018 that Virginia now had 352 wineries and 262 breweries. Sixty two distilleries were also recorded.
Newly Opened Hillsborough Brewery
Since licensing laws also require that production be done on site for a farm brewery license, Hillsborough dedicated a separate building for its brewery, opening it in October 2018. The brewery and winery are run by two brothers: Kerem and Tolga Baki. Kerem is the winemaker who creates hand-crafted wines from grapes grown on the property, while brewmaster Tolga produces unique craft beers in the brewery located just down the hill from the original tasting room. The Hillsborough brewery currently offers five beer varieties: Pilsner Lager, Farmhouse Ale (aged in wine barrels), English-style IPA, Brown Ale, and Belgian Blonde.
Once a month, Hillsborough offers a guided tour of the winery and brewery, along with a different educational seminar and opportunities to meet with the winemaker and brewmaster. (Reservations recommended.) “We get about 30-40 people each day,” Kerem Baki said. Tastings of beer or wine (no mixed flights) are held in the historic tasting room, and beer and wine dinners are planned, along with a beer club to accompany the wine club.
Barrel Oak Farm Taphouse
“Our goal is not to become a big brewery, but rather, to provide customers with an enhanced experience when they come here,” Roeder said. “I wondered if the clientele would be fundamentally different and would clash, but it doesn’t clash at all…they love it. It expanded our customer base and was very well received.”
To qualify as a farm winery or farm brewery, a percentage of the ingredients for the product must be grown on the property. With Virginia’s climate, the most-often grown crop for brewing is hops, which visitors can see along with grapevines. “Coming to a winery gives you an entirely different experience than going to a town brewery,” he continued. “Here, you enjoy the land and the beautiful views, and see where the hops and vines are grown.”
Barrel Oak features a 10-barrel brewery and serves a Kölsch, IPA (Gold Award winner), Winter Amber, Irish Red, Saison, Belgian Dubbel and more. The brewery is located underneath the taproom, build right into the hillside, and beer runs up refrigerated lines right to the taproom. Barrel Oak also offers clubs for its wine and beer lovers.
Quattro Goomba is the third winery with a brewery on site. Its brewery opened with a commercial license that required wine and beer to be consumer in separate locations. After their licensing change, they can now offer enjoyment of their craft beers and wines in both tasting rooms.
A new Virginia law, effective January 1, 2019, requires that when a brewery licensee retails brands of beer that the brewery owns, at least 20% of that volume of beer sold for on-premises consumption in that calendar year be manufactured on premises.
As of July 1, 2018, new legislation states that companion dogs are now allowed in ABC-licensed distilleries, wineries and breweries in Virginia. This was another rule change initiated by Brian Roeder and is good news for those who enjoy traveling with their four-footed friends.
The existing law, Section 3.2-5115 of the Code of Virginia, was amended to state that while dogs are still not allowed in areas where their presence is likely to result in contamination of food, food contact surfaces or food packaging materials, they will be allowed within a designated area inside of or on the premises of a winery, brewery or distillery. The tasting room must be separated from the food preparation areas, and manufacturing and storage areas must be enclosed and separate.
This new legislation does not, however, require an establishment to allow dogs, with the exception of service animals. The previous law stated that no animals were allowed in areas used for food manufacturing, with the exception of guard or guide animals.
As Virginia’s wine and beer industries continue to grow, they also continue to evolve, offering more and more options for wine and beer lovers alike.
Photos courtesy of Hillsborough Winery, Brewery & Vineyard