Albemarle County has received a grant from the governor's office to explore the possibility of building a Virginia wine center. Twenty-thousand dollars will be put into a feasibility study for the potential project.
Albemarle spokesperson Lee Catlin says the Virginia wine industry is growing dramatically in terms of visibility and its reputation as a tourist destination - but there's no place that serves as a centerpiece.
The planning grant will be put toward hiring a consultant to determine if establishing a wine center in Albemarle is a smart move. The study will look at several specific issues - including concept development, visitor experience, and space needs.
Even though the idea is very much in the conceptual stage, county officials say the center would likely be infused with tourism, educational and historical components to enhance the wine industry.
"It's important that this center really function as something that adds value to the entire wine industry and would not be in competition with wineries and other folks who are already doing really great things out there in the state," said Lee Catlin, spokesperson for Albemarle County.
Albemarle County is partnering with groups such as the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Monticello Wine Trail, and Piedmont Virginia Community College to support the grant.
The county has already spoken with a consultant who has worked on a number of wine centers in the United States and is currently establishing one in France. A final report is expected within several months.