Friday, September 11, 2009

One Step Closer to a Winery in Fairfax

Last week I wrote a post regarding Paradise Springs Winery, which is aiming to become the first winery in Fairfax County. There was a significant amount of media attention paid to the story because of the controversy surrounding the planned opening of a winery. As is usually the case, local officials and neighbors were divided on whether or not the winery should be allowed to open.

The good news is that Paradise Springs has cleared one major hurdle and is closer to being able to open its doors to the public. On Thursday of last week, the same day I wrote about it, for what it’s worth, the Virginia Alcohol Board of Control (ABC) issued Paradise Springs a license over the objections of local officials and concerned neighbors. Fredrick Kunkle of the Washington Post wrote an article detailing the decision on Friday.

There is 30-day window to appeal the decision.

I had the opportunity to speak with Kirk Wiles, the son in the mother and son duo that started Paradise Springs, yesterday. Kirk sounded relived that the ABC ruled in his favor and that they are now closer to being able to open. Kirk also mentioned that other Virginia wineries, and local wine trade associations, have been very supportive of the Wiles throughout this entire process.

With all the issues at play, from state and local elected officials supporting or opposing the winery, to the precedent it is setting for other wineries to open in Fairfax, and the growing influence of Virginia’s wine industry, I hope that the decision does not face an appeal and the Wiles will be able to open their winery sooner rather than later. If Paradise Springs was able to open as scheduled in May, the Wiles could have been open for the summer months – peak season for wine tasting. Instead, they faced numerous challenges and needed to spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Hopefully, through the trials and travails that Paradise Springs has faced, others have learned how to navigate the Fairfax’s local government and won’t be dissuaded from opening wineries in the county. It could be a huge boon to the local economy, preserve acres of rural land, and further the reputation of Virginia as a wine-producing state.

If you live in Fairfax, please contact your local officials and let them know you support Paradise Springs. Then, once they open, visit the winery, taste their wines and let the Wiles know that you support their efforts to produce wine in Fairfax.

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