Wine all about it: Virginia Tasting Cellar coming to Mill Street in August

Published 5:41 pm Thursday, August 11, 2016

CARSON REEHER | HERALD Bars constructed from repurposed wood fill the new Virginia Tasting Cellar.

Bars constructed from repurposed wood fill the new Virginia Tasting Cellar.

A new wine experience is coming to Farmville this month. Virginia Tasting Cellar, 201 Mill St., is tentatively set to open Aug. 27.

John Magin, Andrew Polster and Michele Graziano said they were inspired by California’s Napa Valley to open a business where guests can try wine from a wide variety of vineyards, without having to drive hours to each winery. Graziano’s husband, Tommy, is an owner of Charleys Waterfront Café; the Cellar will open in a space underneath the restaurant.

Charleys agreed to lease the underground space from property owner Richard F. Cralle Jr. as part of a legal settlement following disputes over Charleys’ lease and a proposed competing business locating downstairs. The Cellar is now leasing the space from Southside Holdings LLC, which Cralle manages.

Magin said because wineries are so spread out in Virginia, most people can only go to two or three in a day.

“But there isn’t anywhere you can go for one day and experience a dozen different wineries at the same time,” he said.

Situated in the heart of Virginia, the new tasting facility will be unique from any other tasting room in the state, the partners said.

“The idea of having different wineries all in one spot is different because, usually, wineries have their own independent tasting rooms,” said Megan Martin, Magins’ wife and general manager of the Cellar. “We really want to be open to some of the smaller wineries … so that they do have the increased foot traffic and so they can sell more of their product.”

The team wants to see about 12 wineries represented at any given time. The wineries could change over time, Magin said.

“The wineries are given a choice as far as how many months they want to have a lease for in one of the booths, so it will change depending on how long a winery chooses to be here,” he said.

The Cellar is working very closely with Rosemont and Hunting Creek vineyards, and has about seven or eight other wineries working with them so far.

“Rosemont has been a huge partner with us,” Martin said of the La Crosse vineyard. 

The basement space where the tasting room will open once served as a storage facility for Charleys. The owners have leased it and converted it to a rustic Virginia wine experience.

The team repurposed old wood to construct six bars throughout the space. Large antique clocks and iron chandeliers will hang on the walls and ceiling. Guests can purchase a wristband to taste wines or they can purchase a glass, a bottle or a case of wine.

With the tasting, each person gets a complimentary Virginia Tasting Cellar glass and tastings of 10 wines of their choosing.

Guests can take their wine and relax inside and some of the tables located between the tasting bars, or relax outside on the patio overlooking the Appomattox River.

“We’re trying to make it a weekend experience or an experience where you can come to Farmville and go shopping at Greenfront, have some lunch at Charleys, go walk on the High Bridge Trail, come in here, try some wine, maybe stay over night, make a weekend of it,” Magin said. “Other than grocery stores, there’s not anywhere to buy wine wholesale, a Total Wine kind of store, so this will give people a dozen different wineries worth of wine that they can buy by the bottle or buy the cases to just come home.”

Another large section of the basement remains unaltered. According to Magin, the owners would like to eventually open either a brewery or a beer tasting room to accompany the Virginia Tasting Cellar.

The business will be open Friday-Sunday from noon-6 p.m. They hope to eventually be open on Wednesdays and Thursdays as well, Magin said.

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(The online version of this story was updated for clarity on Aug. 12, 2016.)