Southern Virginia is not exactly a hotbed of winery operations, but that hasn’t kept Tomahawk Mill Winery in Chatham “from running with the big boys,” according to owner Corky Medaglia. At the recent Wine Expo in Dulles, he was selling alongside major players like Chateau Morrisette Winery and Horton Vineyards. “Our wines taste good, and people aren’t dumb,” Medaglia says. “They buy based on what they like, not where they’re made.”
Medaglia got into the business 13 years ago when he and his wife, Nancy, bought a winery that featured a historic gristmill. “We’ve been upgrading it ever since,” he says. “We’ve expanded from one to 13 wines, and production has been increasing every year.”
The upgrading continues. Medaglia, a former engineer, is working to bring the 120-year-old, water-powered Tomahawk Creek Gristmill back to full operating condition. The mill houses the winery’s tasting room. Medaglia believes restoring the mill will boost visitation to the site.
One thing that hasn’t been expanded over the years — and won’t be in the future — is the vineyard. With just four acres of vines, Tomahawk Mill buys as many grapes each year as it grows. It is able to produce about 2,000 cases of wine a year. The winery’s biggest seller is its Tobacco Road Blues, a dry red wine made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chambourcin that sells for $16 a bottle. Another popular wine is produced from crushed apples.
Tomahawk Mill boosts its revenues by hosting a number of parties and events in the gristmill and on the winery’s grounds. Wines are sold through regional distributors, on-site and at festivals.
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