“Stuff” Happens, the sad demise of a Virginia Winery

I sauntered into my wine cellar to see what special Cabernet Sauvignon I could come up with to enjoy with the home made pasta, sauce and hot Italian sausage. A smile came to my face when I spotted a bottle up in the top row where I let special bottles rest, and out of reach from my wife’s hands. Don’t get upset with me, she and I have an “agreement” about my special wines.

Sweely Estate 2007 Cab

Sweely Estate 2007 Cab

As I brought the bottle my memory rushed to the event that introduced me to this wine. It was a couple years ago, in Virginia, where I attended the National Wine Bloggers Convention. Sweely Estate Winery was where my group enjoyed a luncheon with the owner, a vibrant and very friendly gentleman. He poured his wines and sat with me during lunch, explaining how he built the grand tasting room, or should I say “Grand Hall”, much like King Arthur would have.

It was also at this time that he explained to me, just how bad things were getting in the Virginia winery business, and the possibility that he would need to close his doors. As I sipped his wines, I realized that this would be such a shame. Of all the wines I had tasted from Virginia Wineries, his was one of the few that in my opinion, had a quality of taste I enjoyed. His state of the art facilities, along with viticulture knowledge and execution was working.

Sadly, he explained that the state laws, mainly that the wineries were unable to market and ship wine outside the state, was killing them. Big Brother at it again, but don’t get me started.

The bottle I opened from Sweely Winery, rewarded me with another smile as I poured, swirled and sipped this Cabernet. Was it a challenge to my Cabernet Sauvignons from Northern California that I do so love? Honestly no, however, it did hold it’s nose and flavor. Were there layers of flavor and length with tannins to balance the mouth feel? No. However, it was enjoyable to sip away, and more of a “drink now” red wine. I do have to say that it was a 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, therefore, whatever tannin was there originally had left the building. But if I were living in Virginia, this was a winery I would probably join the wine club at.

Holy Cr*p, was that Thomas Jefferson?

Holy Cr*p, was that Thomas Jefferson?

But that will not happen, nor can it ever. Sweely Estate Winery had to file bankruptcy and close its doors to us all. It’s under new management, with major changes to the vineyards and vines, and all I can hope for is the new owners to have better success.

I constantly see and here the trials and tribulations of wineries in my neck of the woods, here in Oregon. Many are fighting to stay above water, trying everything to succeed in an industry that has become larger every year with hopes that demand will increase. I believe myself, that as things get bad in this world of ours, that demand will and should increase. Although the fancy restaurants may not see us ordering their expensive bottle of wine, we will be supporting local wineries big time, at home over pasta.

Cheer all,




About storiesbygary

I am a Freelance Writer / Photographer, writing travel related articles for international magazines, blogs and websites and my own published books.
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