Albemarle County is celebrating the opening of one of Virginia's very first organic vineyards.
Loving Cup Winery will be one of the two first organic wineries in the state opening this month, along with Brightwood Farm in Madison County. Dorothy McAuliffe took a tour of the vineyards and spoke at a ribbon-cutting event Wednesday to congratulate the owners on the achievement.
The wine industry has grown statewide by more than 100 percent since 2005, and in her speech McAuliffe thanked the owners for contributing to that growth.
Family owner Karl Hambsch says the winery grew out of a family hobby of making various fruit wines. But he says the decision to go organic was an added challenge.
"Growing grapes organically has been referred to as growing grapes with two hands tied behind your back because you really have to do everything on the right schedule at the right time,” Hambsch said. “The materials that we use are softer, they're not as harmful to the environment, and they just don't work as well."
Instead of pesticides that most wineries rely on, Loving Cup relies on natural sprays and spiders that eat bugs harmful to the grapes. Hambsch says many grapes simply can't be grown organically, so many of the grapes they use aren't normally seen in Virginia.
The winery will be opening to the public this Friday.