VOA TV – Winemaking in Virginia, USA

Last year, about 12,000 people came to Hillsborough Winery in Virginia to taste its wine products. Owner Bora Baki says business is good.

BORA BAKI: “We have a saying in Turkish. I don’t know if you translate this properly: ‘When you are in sorrow, you drink. When you are happy, you drink.’ So even [if] the economy was bad, people find a way of enjoying themselves at least with a glass of wine.”

Baki was preparing to retire from the import business when he came to the United States from Turkey in 1979. But his son Karem persuaded him to consider winemaking.

KAREM BAKI: “I was graduating my college, my undergraduate degree, and so we were both looking for something to do.”

Karem received a college degree in winemaking. He not only makes wine for the family business, but for other vineyards.

KAREM BAKI: “With the different regions in Virginia, you almost have almost perfect conditions. We, of course, have our own issues and complications. But as far as the potential for a grape-growing region, it’s quite great.”

Virginia is home to nearly 200 wineries. Half of them are less than eight years old. Ann Heidig opened Lake Anna Winery in 1990. She also is president of the Virginia Wineries Association.

ANN HEIDIG: “I think the quality of Virginia wines has attracted some larger investors to come in and want to start growing grapes and making wine in Virginia. Even from California, we have a couple of people that have come in to start wineries here. So, I think they see it as an opportunity because it’s a young industry and it’s growing and also it’s a viable industry, I believe, in the state for agriculture.”

A few Virginia wineries produce as many as 40,000 cases of wine a year. However, most wineries are small.

Pandit Patil and his wife Sudha opened Narmada Winery in late 2009.

PANDIT PATIL: “In five years, I want everybody to think this is a destination, and that is what we are working towards.”

Many Virginia vineyards sit in beautiful countryside. Narmada provides music on weekends. It also has something no other local winery does.

TED SEVIGNY: “You don’t find Indian Virginia wineries. Most of them are Italian or whatever, type of thing, but this one is very unique.”

SUDHA PATIL: “We have a unique thing being of Indian background, that we do. Some of our wines can pair very nicely with the Indian food that we serve here just for snacks.”

Sudha Patil has been making wine since 2008. She has already won several awards for winemaking. The awards may help Narmada if the state’s wine industry continues to expand. Annette Boyd heads the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office.

ANNETTE BOYD: “This can’t go on indefinitely. But for right now, with the trends in consumption going up, the interest in local wines, and knowing what is being produced in your own backyard is growing, we have a long way to go, I think, before we reach that point.”

For now, Virginia winemakers will keep making the best wines their vineyards can produce. I’m Jim Tedder.