The Winery at Bull Run – a working farm vineyard focused on crafting fine Virginia wines while paying tribute to the history and preservation of 19th-century pastoral Fairfax County – will almost double its operations with help from a combined $200,000 grant from Virginia and Fairfax County.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced the news on Aug. 23 at the winery, along with Fairfax County officials and the winery’s owners.
The winery will receive a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, and Fairfax County will contribute $100,000 as a local match.
This money supports the winery’s more than $1.7 million investment in new equipment and a new, 8,000-square-foot production facility.
“Agriculture and agritourism are important economic drivers in Fairfax County that we want to continue to see grow and thrive,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova. “I am so pleased that The Winery at Bull Run will benefit from this grant by expanding production and adding new jobs in Fairfax County.”
“The Commonwealth is home to a vibrant agribusiness economy, with the Virginia wine industry contributing nearly $1.37 billion dollars to our economy each year. Today’s expansion is a clear sign that Virginia’s world class wine industry is continuing to grow and succeed,” said Northam. “Strong local support for these businesses is essential to maintaining their growth, and I am pleased that we are able to assist with this important expansion.”
Currently, Bull Run employs 16 full-time workers. The expansion will create 10 new, full-time jobs that pay at least $42,980 and 28 part-time or seasonal jobs that pay at least $22,880. These jobs include new winemakers, tasting room staff and cellar hands. In addition to the 100 tons of grapes produced by their own estate vineyards, the winery will also purchase an additional 182 tons—or $436,820 worth—of Virginia grapes over three years.
Today, the winery produces 13,000 cases per year. The expansion will allow it to quadruple its crushing capacity; provide new production equipment, including additional presses, bins, tanks, barrels and racks; and make site improvements to better serve its customers.
“My wife and I created what has become the largest working farm left in Fairfax County because it was important to us to carry on the agricultural legacy of the land and contribute to the growth of the Virginia wine industry,” said Jon Hickox, owner. “The Winery at Bull Run family is grateful and excited to have been selected to receive this grant because it puts us many steps closer to achieving the dream of being a full estate winery and allows us to continue to invest in Virginia agriculture.”
Fairfax County will decant money from its economic development fund to support the expansion. Last year, the county specifically set aside $500,000 from this fund to invest in agriculture projects.
Under the grant’s terms, the winery must meet performance goals or refund the money to the state and county. It must invest the $1,726,551, produce 10 new, full-time jobs, 28 part-time jobs and purchase $436,820 in Virginia agriculture products over three years. The winery will make annual reports to the state and county that certify these results.
Fairfax officials anticipate that it will recoup its investment in about four years through increased sales and business tax revenues from the winery. Last year, the winery generated $5.5 million in retail sales with about 152,000 visitors.
The county wants to cultivate more agricultural businesses as part of its strategic plan to grow and diversify the economy. Agriculture is a major employer and economic driver. The industry is responsible for 6,021 jobs in Fairfax County, and it produces $780 million in economic impact, according to a University of Virginia study.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Fairfax County, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority and The Winery at Bull Run to secure this project.