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Old House Vineyards Earns Prestigious Agricultural Award

Virginia winery Old House Vineyards

It's pretty clear how Old House Vineyards got its name! An heirloom photo courtesy of the winery.

Old House Vineyards, Culpeper County’s first vineyard and winery, has been chosen to receive the Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Agribusiness of the Year Award.

The Chamber’s selection committee reviewed dozens of deserving candidates and chose Old House for its significant contributions to agriculture, tourism, and local business development.

“My wife Allyson and I are honored to be recognized for what we have built here at Old House,” says Pat Kearney, vineyard owner. “It’s been a lot of hard work. It’s gratifying to know we are contributing to the growth of the county’s business community.”

The Kearneys purchased their seventy-five acre abandoned alfalfa farm, located three miles east of Culpeper, in 1998. Their dream was to build a small winery and enjoy a more rural lifestyle with their family of three children. They lived in Fairfax County at the time of the purchase and subsequently moved to the Culpeper property.

Virginia winery Old House Vineyards

And today.... Photos courtesy of Old House Vineyards.

After restoring an 1800s era farmhouse, they moved in and simultaneously used the residence as a home and tasting room. “Needless to say it was bit hectic in the early days. Raising a family in a place of business had its challenges,” says Pat smiling. Today, the family resides in a beautiful home on a small rise on the back of the property, within sight of their tasting room.

Old House Vineyards exemplifies how an entrepreneurial spirit can blossom into a valued asset for the owners, countless visitors and local businesses. The multiplier effect on the local economy has been dramatic in the fourteen years since the winery was founded.

Pat Kearney was operating a successful millwork firm in Springfield, Virginia when he purchased the farm. Today, Kearney & Associates, Inc. is located adjacent to the vineyard. The firm specializes in creating display cases, artifact mounts, dioramas and assorted graphics for museums nationwide.

“I enjoy my primary business. It lets me express my creative side. Allyson runs the winery operations on a day-to-day basis. It’s a heavy workload for the both of us but we love our life here in Culpeper,” says Kearney.

And the love shows. Over the years, the hard working couple has built an impressive property that attracts thousand of wine lovers from across the state and nation.

After completing restoration of the original farmhouse, a four thousand square foot pavilion was built nestled next to a bucolic lake surrounded by vineyards. On a summer day the property is graced with picnicking couples and families, creating a scene out of a romantic movie.

The vineyard consists of twenty-one acres of grapes including Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Tannat. The fruit produces about 36,000 bottles of wine a year and has won numerous awards. Currently, their winemaker is a young Frenchman named Thibaut Debourg who holds degrees in enology and viticulture, the scientific study of winemaking and grape cultivation.

Their successful wine operation has spawned a hospitality business that has seen dramatic growth over the years. Old House has already has booked twenty wedding parties in 2012 in addition to other corporate and family events that lease the screened-in lakeside pavilion.

“One of the wonderful benefits of our success is sharing it with other local businesses,” says Allyson. “We are always referring our guests and wedding parties to local B&Bs, restaurants, caterers, florists and other shops in Culpeper County. We’ve become good friends with so many of our fellow business owners,” she says.

Fred Furtado, a county resident who has enjoyed wine tasting with his wife Betsy at Old House, says, “I love the beauty and serenity of the place. The Kearneys and their staff are hospitable folks who make you feel at home. We always enjoy relaxing in such a peaceful setting.”

Reflecting on the success of Old House Vineyards, one is tempted to think of a pebble tossed into their serene lake and rippling outward in all directions. Culpeper County is, indeed, fortunate to have a business that is green, sustainable and generating economic success throughout the county.

The Culpeper Chamber of Commerce awarded the honor to Old House Vineyards on March 2.

JOHN HAGARTY’s love of all things wine led to a second career in the wine business after retiring as an executive with the federal government. Currently, he is Manager, Special Events, at Rappahannock Cellars in Huntly, VA.  He also writes extensively on wine related issues for local and state publications and is a home winemaker. John is married with four children and seven grandchildren and resides with his wife Jean in Jeffersonton, VA.  John has an open door policy so visit him at Hagarty-on-Wine.com.

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