Winchester’s location and history are a powerful draw
October 30, 2008 2:01 AM

by Joan Tupponce


Jeff Schryver spends his weekdays at New World Pasta, but on weekends you’re apt to find the plant manager casting a fly fishing line in the Shenandoah River. 

“I also like to hike along the Appalachian Trail and ride my mountain bike at the Third Battle of Winchester trail,” he says. The main 5-mile trail meanders through the fields and forests where the Civil War battle took place. “It’s a real hidden gem. It has great walking and mountain bike trails.”

New World Pasta’s Winchester plant is one of three in the United States. The other two are in Fresno, Calif., and St. Louis. The company also has a plant in Montreal.

New World makes dry pasta products such as Ronzoni Healthy Harvest, Ronzoni Smart Taste and its newest product, Ronzoni Bistro, a ready-to-eat microwavable meal. The company, which has its U.S. headquarters in Harrisburg, Pa., also makes San Giorgio, Creamette, Light & Fluffy Egg Noodles, Prince, Skinner and American Beauty pastas.

The company started operation in Winchester in 1993. Since that time, its manufacturing facility has made more than 2.7 billion pounds of pasta. The 186,000-square-foot plant sits on 40 acres and employs about 120 people. The company has 380 employees in the United States. “Since the original installation of the plant, we have added two production lines,” Schryver says.

When it opened the company was under the Hershey Foods banner. Hershey spun off New World Pasta in 1999. In July 2006, New World was acquired by the Madrid-based Ebro Puleva.

Hershey originally chose the Winchester area because of its access to the Interstate 81 corridor. “The other factor in their decision was that Virginia is a business-friendly state,” Schryver says. “This location is perfect for attracting potential employees. In addition, there is a lot to do in this area, everything from historic sites to cultural activities.”

Winchester is a mecca of Civil War history. Attractions include Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters Museum in a home built in 1854. Jackson was a guest in the house during late 1861 and early 1862 when he was planning his Valley Campaign. The museum has one of the best collections of Jackson’s personal items, including his prayer book and camp table.

The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley complex includes a five-gallery museum and tea room along with Glen Burnie, a historic home. Winchester also has a historic Old Town district with a pedestrian mall that includes restaurants and shops such as the Wilkins Shoe Center with 30,000 pairs of shoes in stock.

The city also is home to Shenandoah University, which offers a variety of musical performances throughout the year.

Winchester’s best-known attraction is perhaps the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. The 82nd-annual festival will be held April 24-May 3 in 2009.

The city’s economy

Winchester has a diverse economic base. Manufacturing and retail each have 16 percent of the employer base. Large private, for-profit employers include Rubbermaid, Wal-Mart and Martin Grocery Stores. The Valley Health System tops the list of Winchester’s largest public employers with more than 3,000 employees. Other large public employers are the Frederick County and Winchester school systems. Several of the area’s businesses have 250 to 500 employees. They include Trex (wood-alternative decking), Shockey (construction), Kraft Foods, O’Sullivan Films (vinyl and alloy films) and American Woodmark (cabinetry). Two of the area’s newest employers are the FEMA Disaster Recovery
Headquarters and the FBI Document Repository Center, which together should bring over 2,000 jobs into the area.

Where to stay

Winchester’s newly renovated George Washington Hotel in the Old Town section is a popular destination. Built in 1924, the property is now a Wyndham Historic Hotel and home to the upscale restaurant, The Dancing Goat. The award-winning Long Hill Bed & Breakfast provides a homey atmosphere. The three guest rooms are furnished with memorabilia from different decades. Historic properties Old Waterstreet Inn and The Fuller House Inn and are located in the downtown area, within walking distance of the historic section. The federal-style Old Waterstreet Inn offers four guest rooms and one suite as well as a full breakfast. The Fuller House has two guest rooms with a room service breakfast.

Where to eat

When he dines out, Jeff Schryver has a variety of options. One of his favorite haunts is the Piccadilly Brew Pub in Old Town Winchester. The eatery is located in a restored early 1900s grocery warehouse. “I really like the atmosphere,” Schryver says. Piccadilly offers a selection of on-site brewed beers as well as steaks and seafood. The upscale Violino Ristorante Italiano with outdoor seating and Italian entrees is also located in the historic area. Other popular dining options include One Block West, Cork Street Tavern and Brewbaker’s.

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