GILES COUNTY – An economic expansion expected to bring new jobs in the near futureL Giles County had a new milestone to celebrate Wednesday with the opening of the area’s first Virginia farm winery, a distinct designation in the state.
County leaders along with congressman Morgan Griffith gathered for a ribbon-cutting at JBR Vineyard and Winery in Trigg. This makes the second vineyard and winery to open in the county in the past three years.
Tourism continues to be a leading industry in the region. In the New River Valley agritourism is a major driver. JBR adds to that culture and not only features a beautiful hillside of more than decade-old grape plants, but also a new tasting room where the public can schedule an appointment to view the vineyard and taste the wine.
Owner Jessee Ring is a Narrows High School graduate. After graduating from college, meeting his wife and moving to California, where he spent much of his life, he said the mountains called him back home to Giles.
"If 20 years ago you told me that I would be standing right here saying this and looking at this, I would not have believed it."
While the entire venture can be overwhelming at times he admitted, Wednesday he said he’s finally taking it all in. He is happy to be back with his wife, planting his new business where his life first began.
"May the circle be unbroken," Ring said.
The winery and tasting room adds another unique amenity that adds to the draw of Giles County.
"It's just another piece of the tourism puzzle," said Giles County Administrator Chris McKlarney. JBR first produced ibottles of wine in 2015. Since then, it’s been sold and enjoyed at venues in the area such as Mountain Lake Lodge and venues in Blacksburg.
McKlarney says agribusiness, like the winery, and capitalizing on outdoor recreation are key to a thriving economy in Giles. And so far -- they are doing exceptionally well.
"Annual expenditures in Giles is about $26.5 million dollars, which for a county of 17,000 people, that's a big deal," McKlarney said.
In fact, over the past two years, the county has seen more than a 30 percent increase in transient occupancy tax revenue, meaning more and more people are going there each year.
In December 2017 Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that JBR -- with the support of the Giles County Industrial Development Authority, would receive an Agricultural and Forestry Industries Development Fund award to expand the winery to 14 tons of grapes and build a tasting room onsite of their Staffordsville winery. “We are excited that VDACS and the Governor’s Office continue to promote and support new business opportunities like JBR Vineyards,” said McKlarney.
“Giles County is pleased to join with our Commonwealth of Virginia partners in the effort to expand our economy and create new jobs for our citizens. Agriculture is important to Giles County and the addition of a vineyard and winery will provide additional tourism opportunities for visitors to Virginia’s Mountain Playground," McKlarney said.