The Virginia Distillers Association Formalizes and Begin Promotions with Statewide Campaign

PO Box 136
Richmond, VA 23218


The Virginia Distillers Association Formalizes and Begin Promotions with Statewide Campaign

September is Virginia Spirits Month: Show Your Virginia Spirit!

Richmond, VA (August 29, 2016) – Virginia distillers recently collaborated to formalize and fund the Virginia Distillers Association (VDA). The VDA is a nonprofit trade association focused on the promotion, regulatory and legislative needs of the distilled spirits industry. “As more distilleries open in Virginia, it has become clear that working together to improve the regulatory environment as well as the brand of Virginia spirits will benefit the businesses we operate, the consumers, and the greater economy in Virginia.” said Gareth Moore, VDA President and CEO of Virginia Distillery Company in Lovingston.

The Virginia distilled spirits industry has grown tremendously in the past five years,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe.  “I am pleased to celebrate Virginia’s long tradition of producing high-quality spirits by recognizing September as Virginia Spirits Month.  Virginia’s 42 distilleries, along with more than 270 wineries and 150 craft breweries, are building Virginia’s reputation as the preeminent East Coast destination for craft beverages.  The expansion of Virginia’s distilled spirits industry, one of the faster growing sectors of Virginia agriculture, is a priority for our administration as we work to build a new Virginia economy.”  

To build awareness for the high quality spirits being produced in Virginia, the VDA is launching a consumer campaign; “September is Virginia Spirits Month: Show Your Virginia Spirit!” The campaign will feature over 30 Virginia and Washington DC tastemakers, contributing recipes using their favorite Virginia spirits. Featured tastemakers will include award winning bartenders, mixologists, chefs, consumer influencers, and Virginia distillers.  Restaurants across the Commonwealth will offer promotional Virginia spirits cocktails and flights for the entire month. Distilleries around Virginia will also be hosting special events as part of the celebration. A full list of featured tastemakers can be found below. Tastemaker profiles along with their Virginia spirits cocktail recipes will be highlighted on from August 29 – September 30, 2016. Consumers can also follow along in the fun by using the hashtags #VaSpiritsMonth and #VaSpirits on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

The Virginia spirits industry has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years. Virginia is currently home to 42 licensed distilleries; that number will likely grow to over 50 by 2017. A major goal of the VDA is to define in detail the economic impact of the Virginia spirits industry; including the number of employees, spirits related tourism expenditures, and the amount of Virginia agriculture used in the production of Virginia spirits.

VDA staff includes Curtis Coleburn, who leads legislative affairs, and Amy Ciarametaro who serves as Executive Director.  Formerly, Coleburn served as Chief Operating Officer of Virginia ABC for over twenty years. Ciarametaro previously served as Marketing Manager for the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office for nearly a decade.

Many Virginia distilleries are utilizing Virginia agricultural products such as corn, wheat, barley, rye in the mix of their raw materials. Distilleries such as KO DistillingCopper Fox and E Wright & C Wallace Distilleries (aka Boar Creek Whiskey) utilize nearly 100% of their raw materials from Virginia. “It all starts with a good mash recipe,” said Will Dawson, Owner and Distiller of E Wright & C Wallace Distilleries and Vice-President of the Virginia Distillers Association. “We use six different grains, five are from Virginia, and cool Appalachian water, drawn straight out of the Blue Ridge Mountains for the production of Boar Creek Whiskey.”

The dynamics behind the ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment and subsequent implementation of Alcoholic Beverage Control agencies across the United States has led to an uneven playing field for distillery businesses to compete.   Distilleries in Virginia have been working diligently to partner with Virginia ABC to improve the regulatory landscape.

Effective August 1, 2016 restaurants and mixed-beverage licensees can now purchase Virginia spirits directly from Virginia distilleries. Most consumers don’t realize that Virginia restaurants have to purchase all spirits, not just Virginia spirits, from ABC stores the same way they do. “Only products with minimum quantities and sales are carried in ABC stores, so many unique, small batch Virginia products aren’t regularly available for restaurants to purchase and serve. Allowing Virginia distilleries to sell directly to restaurants and other retail licensees means that the variety of Virginia spirits available for sale at Virginia restaurants will increase dramatically,” explained Marybeth Williams of Williams (Beverage) Compliance.

Micah LeMon, Bar Manager for James Beard Nominated “Best New Restaurant” The Alley Light in Charlottesville added in “The spirits industry is extremely competitive. Virginia distilleries are competing against global brand conglomerates, which have near-limitless abilities to place and price their products to be appealing to consumers. Small distillers here in Virginia are a passionate, resourceful, and we need to see more of their product in the marketplace. This recent legislation from Virginia ABC allowing local distilleries to sell direct to us will certainly help in that effort.”  

September Virginia Spirits Month: Show Your Virginia Spirit!   featured Tastemakers:

Blue Talon Bistro & The Trellis Restaurant, Chef David Everett Williamsburg, VA
BRINE Restaurant, Chef John Critchley Fairfax, VA
Chesapeake Bay Distillery Virginia Beach, VA
Columbia Room, JP FetherstonComfort, Michael Hanbury & Chef Jason Alley Washington, DCRichmond, VA
Crocs 19th Street Bistro, Laura Habr Virginia Beach, VA
Drink Company, Derek Brown Washington, DC
Dry Fork Fruit Distillery Meadows of Dan, VA
Filibuster Bourbon Maurertown, VA
Harper’s Table, Whitney Sacdalan & Chef Harper Bradshaw Suffolk, VA
Heritage, Mattias Hagglund & Chef Joe Sparatta Richmond, VA
Iron Gate Restaurant, Nick Farrell Washington, DC
Ironclad Distillery Newport News, VA
James River Distillery Richmond, VA
KO Distilling Manassas, VA
Mama J’s Kitchen, Kelli Lemon Richmond, VA
McCormack’s Big Whisky Grill, McCormack’s Whiskey Grill, McCormack’s Irish Pub, Mac McCormack Richmond, VA
Pasture, Beth Dixon Richmond, VA
Patrick Evans-Hylton Virginia Beach, VA
Quirk Hotel – Maple & Pine Richmond, VA
Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Union Market, Melissa Smith Washington, DC
Rappahannock Restaurant, Paul Kirk Richmond, VA
Ripple, Maurice Cherry Washington, DC
Simple Eats, Eddie & Sandy Schmidtmann Virginia Beach, VA
Southern Efficiency & Eat The Rich, Paul Trahan Taylor Washington, DC
Tavola Restaurant, Christian Johnston Charlottesville, VA
The Alley Light, Micah LeMon Charlottesville, VA
The Local, Alec Spidalieri Charlottesville, VA
The Roosevelt, Thomas “T” Leggett & Chef Lee Gregory Richmond, VA
The Whiskey Jar, Leah Peeks Charlottesville, VA
Virginia Distillery Company Lovingston, VA
Vitae Spirits Charlottesville, VA
Williamsburg Distillery Williamsburg, VA

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact: Amy Ciarametaro at