New Kent Winery to double production, awarded grants from state and local EDA

Staff writer

Wine production in New Kent will see a dramatic increase in the coming years, as New Kent Winery owners Joe and Jo Anna Dombroski joined state and local officials to announce plans to double the facility’s wine output at a ceremony Monday.

At the event, it was announced the winery has received a $15,000 Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development facility grant from the state, along with a matching $15,000 grant from the New Kent County Economic Development Authority.

“This grant is going to actually expand the building, hire new employees and then add additional equipment for the production of the wine,” New Kent County Director of Economic Development Matthew Smolnik said. “This is the first AFID grant that the county has received in county history, so we’re really excited about that.”

The winery sources its products exclusively from Virginia, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office. Through this expansion project, New Kent Winery is committing to purchase an additional 120 tons of Virginia grapes during the next three years, the release states, and its owners plan to double the winery's production capacity to 10,000 cases each year.

“The growth of New Kent Winery demonstrates the significant economic impact that Virginia’s agricultural industry can bring to our rural communities,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in the release. “Investments like these generate tourism activity, create jobs, open new markets for our farmers.”

The Dombroskis also plan to invest $715,000 and create seven new jobs as part of the expansion, which will see the winery’s production facility double in size and output. New Kent Winery’s production facility is 40,000 square feet, John Dombroski said.

“It’ll probably be doubled, because our wine production is going to be doubled and we’re bringing in machinery to do kegging,” he said. “Under the grant, we promised to hire full-time jobs, and before the grant even came, we’ve already hired two full-time and two part-time employees in the past two weeks.”

The expansion will also allow New Kent Winery to invest heavily in producing its new wine kegs, Dombroski said. The winery has partnered with Colonial Downs, Richmond Flying Squirrels, Richmond International Raceway, Richmond Kickers as well as Sports Backers to distribute its wine.

“We’re going to be taking premium Virginia wines and not only doing them in bottles, but we are doing them in disposable kegs for entertainment venues,” he said. “We still keep the quality of our premium wines, but now we’re manufacturing and supplying large entertainment venues in Central Virginia, and Colonial Downs’ operation all over Virginia.”

Smolnik and the winery’s owners agreed that the expansion will have a long-lasting economic impact for the county.

“It’s a team effort to grow jobs and revenues for New Kent County and state tourism, and we’re really proud of that and we’re humbled by the fact that we have all of these wonderful partners, and the local and state governments are working together to make this all a success,” Dombroski said.

About the winery

With more than 34.5 acres under vine, New Kent Winery features a tasting room and event space, which can be rented for weddings and other private events. For more information, visit newkentwinery.com.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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