It is no minor milestone for Loudoun County to welcome an international audience of wine enthusiasts this week.
Luring the annual Wine Tourism Conference from Napa to the East Coast was a significant achievement, one that recognizes the growing importance of Virginia to the nation’s wine industry. Holding the event in Lansdowne highlights the opportunities for Loudoun to become more than just “DC’s wine country.”
It would have been difficult to envision such a gathering even a decade ago.
The growth of Loudoun’s wine industry—and its role in preserving thousands of acres of agricultural land—is a testament to the vision and determination of past county leaders. Those vines didn’t take root overnight and they wouldn’t have grown strong without the healthy blend of entrepreneurship and government policy support. The conference is one more validation of that success story.
But the story should not end here.
The industry, the county government and area colleges should move quickly to build the knowledge infrastructure that will help winemakers reach new heights. Home to 40 of Virginia’s 250 wineries, Loudoun is well-positioned to lead that effort.
There have been talks and studies about that concept, and new viticulture classes are being offered at Northern Virginia Community College. However, it has been a year since a feasibility for a Loudoun Viticulture Center was complete and the project has yet to emerge as a priority.
As leaders in other high-growth industries can attest, the success of their business is largely linked to the availability of a talented workforce. It is highly skilled employees who help fuel the growth of Loudoun’s tech businesses, for example.
The significant benefits to be gained by making similar talent available to Loudoun’s, and Virginia’s, wineries should not be overlooked because of the successes achieved so far.
There are more milestones to reach for.