Burnt Quarter Vineyards in Dinwiddie County. Courtesy of IALR.

Here’s a round-up of business news from around Southwest and Southside. Send items for possible inclusion to news@cardinalnews.org.

Grants for vineyards in Tobacco Commission footprint announced

The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), program manager of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission’s (TRRC) Vineyard Development and Expansion Program, has announced a new round of grant funding available to vineyard growers. Applications are being accepted for grant awards of up to $3,000 per acre for qualified individuals across the 40 localities of the TRRC’s service area in Southern and Southwest Virginia.

“This program is a wonderful opportunity for vineyard growers to expand their acreage or for would-be growers to step into production,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director of IALR. “The program offers helpful assistance with the application process, and reimburses on a cost-share basis to reduce risk and encourage viticulture, which is so vitally important to expanding Virginia’s wine industry.”

A cost-share award of up to $3,000 per acre is available for qualified vineyard growers—reimbursing 33 percent of eligible expenditures. Vineyards with up to nine acres may receive a maximum award of up to $15,000, and those with 10 or more acres may receive a maximum award of up to $20,000. Funding is awarded through a competitive process and may be sought by qualified existing growers who wish to expand their current acreage and by new growers developing their first vineyard. To be considered for the program, new growers must establish at least three acres of new vines, and existing growers must be willing to plant a minimum of one new acre. Eligible cost-share items include, but are not limited to, grapevines, hardware for trellis systems, fencing and irrigation systems. All projects and reimbursement applications must be completed by Dec. 1, 2022.

Through the cost-share program, IALR works with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, TRRC and the Virginia Vineyards Association to increase vineyard acreage and address the shortage of Virginia-grown grapes. In order for wines to be marketed as Virginia wines, they must contain at least 75 percent of Virginia-grown grapes. While the number of wineries in Virginia has been increasing, the pace of vineyard expansion has lagged, resulting in acute grape shortages and the slowing of Virginia wine production.

To learn more about eligibility requirements, including a detailed map of eligible localities, growers may visit TRRCgrape.com or contact Program Manager Amy Turner at amy.turner@ialr.org or 434.766.6788. Turner also will assist growers with the application process, which is currently open.

Alleghany book project to be released Thursday

The What’s Your Story? project in Alleghany County will release its fifth volume of stories and photographs, “Life in the Time of COVID” on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. in Clifton Forge.

The free event will be held in the Underground of the Historic Masonic Theatre and open to the public. Refreshments will be served, and stories and visual images of the pandemic in the Highlands will be shared.

Joan Vannorsdall with the books her committee has produced. Photo by Grace Mamon.

The 56-page softcover book is one in a series of books intended to capture the history of the region. (See our previous story on the project.)

Committee members Joan Vannorsdall and Gayle Hillert began interviewing for the book in late June, talking with a wide range of people affected personally and/or professionally by the pandemic.

“We thought long and hard about doing this WYS? volume,” Vannorsdall said. “We knew it would be hard for people to talk about their lives during the pandemic, with loss and sickness and hard decisions being made daily. But we also knew that gathering these stories was important — both historically and for the individuals who chose to share them with us. When I told my son we were going ahead with the book, he said, ‘That will be one for a time
capsule.’ And now that the book is done, I know he’s right about that,”

Professional photographer Chuck Almarez did the story portraits for the book, which was
designed by graphic designer Julianne Rainone Jacob.

“Life in the Time of COVID” will be on sale to the public at the December 2 event for $25. In
addition, copies of previous collections will be available. All proceeds will go toward producing the next volume in the What’s Your Story? series. Guests are asked to enter the Theatre at the rear through the Underground door.

Reynolds Homestead to host Smithsonian exhibition examining change in rural America

Reynolds Homestead’s Creative Arts Center in Stuart will host a Smithsonian traveling exhibit on rural America.

From Dec. 4 to Jan. 9, “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” will showcase how rural small towns continue to creatively focus on new opportunities for growth and development. The exhibition is part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program.

The Reynolds Homestead, part of Outreach and International Affairs, serves as a Virginia Tech community outreach center, providing educational and cultural programs in Patrick County and surrounding communities. Director Julie Walters Steele said the exhibition’s themes of rural identity, community, land, perseverance, and managing change provide a jumping-off point for further discussions.

The Reynolds Homestead will also partner with the Patrick County Historical Society and Museum to create a display of historical photos at the homestead’s Community Engagement Center in Critz.

Meanwhile, photos from Patrick County Extension over the years will also be on display, and Virginia Cooperative Extension will celebrate the importance of food in unifying the community with a collection of family recipes.

Several hikes will take a closer look at what has been lost. Fairy Stone State Park will host a hike focusing on Fayerdale, an iron mining town that now sits beneath Philpott Lake. Meanwhile, the Dan River Basin Association will lead a hike along the Rock Castle Gorge where participants can learn about the community that once existed there, and Blue Ridge Heritage will hold a presentation and hike on the disappearance of the American chestnut tree.

For film lovers, the 1981 documentary “Up and Down These Roads: A Rural County in Transition” will be presented at the Star Theatre in Stuart. In a follow-up event, a panel will discuss the 40 years of change since the documentary was made.

For a full list of activities and schedule, visit the exhibition’s website