Central Virginia business leaders are going international to strengthen the area’s wine industry.
Argentinean wine industry representatives have spent a week visiting Central Virginian wineries and discussing their work and accomplishments with Charlottesville-area economic and business leaders.
Kevin Caillet-Bois, Argentina’s former director general of wine audits, and Nora Meineri, the ambassador of tourism and culture for the city of Mendoza, are the featured guests at a marketplace focus event slated for Tuesday at Glass House Winery in Free Union.
Jim Cheng, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, is the featured speaker at the event, which will also include Caribbean food, a cash bar and flamenco music and dance.
Caillet-Bois and Meineri began their visit to Central Virginia with a wine tasting at Albemarle CiderWorks in North Garden and a public presentation at City Hall in downtown Charlottesville on Vendimia, an annual celebration of wine and winemaking.
“For a region that has very successfully branded itself as a quality wine area, we can learn some really important things about how they did that, and how they continue to build the industry, how they keep the visibility of their brand so high,” said Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin.
The state this month awarded a $20,000 grant to the county to study the establishment of a Virginia wine heritage center.
Albemarle County Economic Development and Forward/Adelante, a bilingual business publication covering Central Virginia, organized the visits and events.
“Since part of the work of the wine center grant is to really look at what would help us build a thriving wine industry, the folks from Mendoza have obviously figured that out really well,” Catlin said. “As we think about events to really promote our wine industry, that’s an example of something that will be really helpful for us to hear about.”
About 20 people gathered last week at Albemarle CiderWorks to discuss the business of wine at a preview event. Virginia wines, cider and Argentine wines were featured.
Caillet-Bois said wines produced in Virginia and California are recognized and respected in Argentina.
“There’s a lot of similarity between California and the east coast in Argentina,” said Caillet-Bois, speaking through an interpreter. “There’s been a lot of trade of technology from the U.S.,” he said.
Cider too has international economic potential, said Charlotte Shelton, founder and operating manager of Albemarle CiderWorks.
“Cider is an international libation,” Shelton said. “It’s much better known in other parts of the world than it is here. It’s been a traditional libration for centuries in not only the British Isles and France but also in Spain.”
Albemarle CiderWorks expects to produce about 3,000 cases of cider this year. Representatives from Trump Vineyard and Grace Estates also attended the event at the cider operation.
“For [Argentina] to look at us, that’s very important,” said Olga Morse, Forward/Adelante’s publisher and editor. “This is a wonderful way to open the doors to share new experiences. This is what Forward/Adelante is working on — breaking the cultural barriers and to just serve as a bridge of language and culture.