From weddings to wineries to breweries – More suds in Bluemont
By Valerie Curry
The unincorporated village of Bluemont will likely soon be getting yet another brewery and winery.
The Whitehall Estate – where “barn meets ballroom” as its website proclaims – is a popular wedding and corporate events venue. Also known as Celebrations Farm, the manor house and other amenities (including a barn) serve wedding parties, and also functions as a business center. The property encompasses some 50 acres.
The owner/operators have applied to add both a brewery, called Bluemont Station Brewery, and winery to their list of offerings. With the downturn in wedding celebrations due to COVID, one of the owners, David Weinschel was sparked to add the brewery use to the establishment’s portfolio. He said they all have mortgages to pay, and adding a brewery will help them during this time.
With respect to the brewery business, they have plans to add a new hops and grain garden along with a tap and tasting room. They already have a Cabernet Franc vineyard on the property.
For the required steps for a brewery, a Virginia ABC Notice of Posting and Publishing application was posted on one of the doors located down a long driveway on the property, but such notices are not required at the entrance to an establishment. The neighborhood did not find out about the owners’ brewery and winery plans until just a little over a week before any objections directed towards the ABC licensing authority were due
Around 40 neighbors showed up Nov. 23 to hear the plans from Weinschel.
Neighbors expressed concerns regarding traffic and the “beer part of the business.” Weinschel assured the community that Whitehall/Celebrations’ model would be “upscale.” He said his plan is different from other breweries in the area, the goal being to focus on interior space – with most music inside – and speakers on the porches, pointing “you hear trucks now.”
Weinschel again stressed that the brewery would be upscale, and “Agri-Cultured” which his Facebook page defines as “The enrichment lifestyle experience of a welcomed guest with refined taste during a socially curated activity that includes artistry and engagement of a culinary or scientific nature, rooted in a farm environment.”
He said Celebrations Farm has a “more sophisticated clientele” and the farm is more distinguished. This prompted someone in the audience to ask if he would have someone at the entrance just letting in upscale cars, such as Lexuses.
“Many of us have been burned,” said another resident – referring to another local brewery – and “Loudoun County is not respectful of the residents. What is your true intent?”
Weinschel said the brewery would be closed probably on Mondays and perhaps Tuesdays. The hours of operation would be from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The current occupancy load is 250, and they have had up to 650, he said.
Down the road, a popular brewery is currently advertising 10 new firepits for customers to reserve, a 15-vendor craft market, live music all weekend, three food trucks and more – all of it opening at 9 a.m. with a hard closing at 10 p.m. on some days.
What Virginia ABC Law Says
With respect to public notice, relevant state ABC law reads as follows: “An ABC license cannot be issued until: “4. Any local government or citizen objections have been resolved. Code of Virginia compels Virginia ABC to afford citizens of the Commonwealth 30 days, from the date of first newspaper publication, in which to lodge a valid objection to the issuance of an ABC license.”