Sip Happens

From mead to grappa and everything in between: a sample of new makers around the state.

Illustration by Michał Bednarski

It’s no secret that Virginia has long been a homeland for spirited beverages, from George Thorpe’s first batch of corn whiskey in 1620 to the House of Burgesses’ Acte 12, which required every male colonist in Virginia to plant at least 10 grapevines. We have a long history of brewing, batching, and distilling everything from moonshine to brandy. There have been many standouts over the years, and many upstarts as well. Here, we share some of the newest beverage makers around the Commonwealth. (Visit for a complete list.)

Spinning Jenny Vineyard, Draper

After they retired in 2014, owners Curtis and Jennifer Brown began planting grapevines on their property in Draper; they are now producing six varieties of wine grapes. The Spinning Jenny tasting room, which opened in April, serves 10 different wines and offers a cranberry wine for the holidays, beginning in November.

Hinson Ford Cider & Mead, Amissville

When Dennis and Mary Kelly made mead for their daughter’s wedding in 2015, they realized they have a knack for producing on the dry end of the market. In September 2018, they opened Hinson Ford Cider & Mead with cider maker Dave Shiff. The meadery tries to source honey locally as much as possible and partners with George Mason University’s honeybee initiative.

Trial & Error Distillery, Richmond

John and Lolita Kreckman’s new distillery is in the back of their pasta restaurant, Bombolini, in Richmond. Trial & Error, which opened last year, offers craft liquors including dark rum, sloe berry gin, limoncello, and grappa. Guests are welcome to ask questions, and cocktail nights provide a great opportunity to sample the offerings.

Dragon Hops Brewery, Purcellville

Emily Coryell began brewing beer nearly 56 years ago, taught by her great-grandmother and grandmother. She also toured Belgium and tasted fine beers and lambics made by monks with her father. In 2018, Coryell opened Dragon Hops Brewery, brewing using hops from the company’s own farm and sourcing local hops and fruits as possible.

Ditchley Cider Works, Kilmarnock

Located on a working farm in Kilmarnock, Ditchley Cider Works began production in spring 2018 and opened its tasting room earlier this year. According to owner Cathy Calhoun, all of the apples are sourced from a 2,000-tree orchard on site, and the cidery currently offers three different products.

This article originally appeared in our Drink 2019 issue.

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