Business Briefs: November 2022

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Judd Culver gathers free-ranging KellyBronze Turkey from the woods and meadows where they forage. Photo by Malcolm Andrews.

Waynesboro Foundry will be Center for Virginia Wine Innovation

There’s a new use for one of Waynesboro’s most familiar buildings. Barrels and tanks have been hauled onto the floor where skilled 20th-century foundrymen once made stoves, then later cast brass, bronze, aluminum, pewter and iron into ornamental and useful objects.

Common Wealth Crush, the newest tenant to populate the former Virginia Metalcrafters factory on Waynesboro’s east end, will offer custom grape crushing and other services to growers who don’t yet have their own equipment and labor. 

Part of the former Virginia Metalcrafters Building will become Common Wealth Crush. The sawtooth roof, typical of last-century industrial architecture, provides even, natural light. Submitted photo.

The purpose of a custom crush is to make wine for growers who can then go on to market and sell the wine under their own labels. Operations like this are especially important for new wineries trying to introduce their brand and learn the profession while waiting until their vineyards mature, or until they can hire a winemaker or build their own winery.

Besides the physical services, Common Wealth Crush will provide an additional incubator-type service, with advice and assistance to new growers and winemakers who want to learn or improve their skills and eventually establish their own wineries. The company was founded by Ben and Tim Jordan and Patt Eagan. Ben is presently connected with a small wine-making operation, Lightwell Survey, in Waynesboro’s South River Complex.

The three men have been involved with the wine industry in Virginia, Europe and California, as winemakers, growers and entrepreneurs. Eagan said the brothers were among those with growing and winemaking experience (they have a planting north of Staunton), but without the room for an on-farm winery.

The men had used other wineries with extra space to make their wine, and realized there were many small growers with the same limitations, as well as novice growers who had never crushed grapes or fermented wine. Common Wealth Crush has a plan for all kinds of skill levels, Eagan said. They’ll work with clients according to their needs. At least at first, the actual bottling will be done by a mobile operation. The term “common wealth” is a play on “commonwealth”—the designation used by four states, including Virginia and Massachusetts—to suggest that many Virginians will benefit financially from this service.

The once expansive and profitable Virginia Metalcrafters factory, built in the 1930s, was considered to be the greatest American brass company. It was slipping into neglect after its closing in 2006. In May 2013, three partners—John Hall, Christopher Mast and Paul Cline—bought the 17,000- square-foot building for $725,000 with the intention of providing space for a variety of businesses, with an emphasis on creative entrepreneurship. John Hall is now listed as the owner, with Matchbox Realtors in Harrisonburg as the property manager.

The new tenants plan to highlight the vintage industrial features of the plant, which include hundreds of windows and a distinctive roofline. Eagan said the sawtooth roof lets in a soft, overall natural light. These roofs, constructed with dual pitches, were the style of choice for the last century’s industrial plants, where sunlight evenly distributed was essential for the painstaking artisans at work beneath them. At the celebration in October, Delegate John Avoli said, “I’m especially grateful that this investment will enhance the historic district of the city of Waynesboro.”

Avoli, a former mayor of Staunton, was a major driver in the restoration of several of the historic areas in that city’s downtown. He foresaw correctly that the architecture and character of the city would become a draw for tourism once it had the infrastructure and some public and private investment to support it. 

It’s no accident that the winemaking operation adjoins Waynesboro’s popular Basic City Beer Company on the former Virginia Metalcrafter’s campus. Eagan said the Common Wealth Crush team consulted with Bart Lanman, Basic City’s owner, when looking for a suitable place for their operation. He invited them to tour the factory floor, and they quickly agreed it was consistent with their vision. Basic City is also adding an events space using part of the old factory floor, Eagan said.

Last month, a celebration was held at the plant, as city officials accepted a $25,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Services Industries Development Fund, Waynesboro’s first such grant. The city will match it with local funds. When Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr presented the check, he said the project would create six new jobs and generate $1.5 million in investments to renovate the space. 

That’s just a piece of the evolution, Eagan said. Besides the Basic City expansion, another tenant in the sprawling former factory is a coffee roaster associated with Waynesboro’s Farmhaus Coffee. Eagan predicted that business will eventually have a place for customers to sit and sip the coffee that’s ground just a few feet away. There are other potential tenants, Eagan said, small independent businesses with carefully chosen products. 

Common Wealth Crush anticipates the completion of a tasting room by spring. Eagan said it’s their hope that those interested in Virginia wine will be able to sample all the wines that come through the venerable building, thereby patronizing fledgling winegrowers and makers while getting a taste of Virginia’s wine future.

A Word on Birds from Turkey Grower

If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on a KellyBronze turkey, you won’t need to employ any of the strategies that work to impart flavor and moisture to ordinary birds. Judd Culver, who with his wife, Cari, owns the Crozet KellyBronze Turkey operation, says that his birds are older, plumper and have more flavor than the average supermarket turkey. “Brining, basting, slow cooking, deep frying and other strategies just aren’t needed,” he said. Culver is more of a shepherd than a farmer: the birds range in the woods, eating crickets, worms and snakes as well as nutritious plants. Culver said he doesn’t need to go collect them one by one in November. “They’re a herd,” he said. “They all follow.” Order turkeys online at kellybronze.com. 

Downtown Crozet Bustling with New Businesses

Downtown has a bit of a new look, as several recent and new businesses draw customers to the heart of Crozet. The mid-October opening of The Yellow Mug drew twice as many people as owner Valley Mobley had even hoped for. After just a few weeks of business, she said the caffeine preferences of people in Crozet are pretty diverse. Two of the coffee drinks that sell well are the cortado (a one-to-one ratio of espresso and milk), and a drink she calls the “mean gene mocha,” a mix of espresso, chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon and pepper. Pastries, many from Albemarle Baking Company, fly off the shelves, she said, including a couple of savory quiches and croissants as well as the sweeter sticky buns, fried pies and Fox Hollow cookies.

Sweet treats from “Baker, No Bakery” pop up at Bluebird & Co. during Novmber. Submitted photo.

Around the corner, at Bluebird & Co., owners Flannery Buchanan and Chelsea Powers have a number of activities as well as products to draw people of all ages to their shop, which opened a few months ago. Just in time for the holidays, there are displays of unique warm clothing items and a roster of seasonal events. There will be an everlasting flower wreath-making workshop on Nov. 4, the wildly popular “Baker No Bakery” Pop up, on Nov. 18, and Silhouettes by Mara Sprafkin on Nov. 19. There’s plenty for book lovers, too: an author event with Allyson Barkley, Nov. 5; a book club discussion of The Marriage Project, Nov. 10; local author Charlotte Matthews, Nov. 13; “Writing 101: The Business of Being an Author,” Nov. 17; and an author visit by Taylor Harris, Nov. 20. For more information on all of these events, go to bluebirdcrozet.com.

A short distance away on Three-Notched Rd., JulieEllyn Designs opened in late October with a variety of beautiful gift items, including wreaths, candles, children’s gifts and her own original handmade jewelry. A promotion, “bracelets of the month,” starts in November. All items are reasonably priced and many are from local artisans. She’s in part of the building that formerly housed Sam’s Hot Dogs and Trey’s Restaurant. 

Bill Mauzy’s Photos at Artisan Depot 

Photographer Bill Mauzy of Nellysford is the guest artist for the month of November, with a show titled “Small Graces” through November in the historic Crozet train depot, 5791 Three Notch’d Road.

“Small Graces” features images created in and around the pavilion gardens at U.Va. over several years, which were intended to shed new light on familiar spaces.

Customers flocked to The Yellow Mug for specialty coffee drinks and pastries. Submitted photo.

Maury said he was inspired by Sally Mann’s landscape images of the South, and began photographing the pavilion gardens in 2013. The images focus on the garden’s daily and seasonal moods, details, and unique spaces.

Mauzy said, “I hope the images I create might inspire those who spend time with them to experience the landscapes they inhabit with renewed interest and passion. However, my goal in sharing these images is simply to whisper, ‘Consider this.’”

Bill Mauzy captures the light at Poe Alley in his photo series of UVa’s pavilions.

In addition to his photographic work, Mauzy directs Three Ridges Landscape Architecture, where he focuses on thoughtful site and garden planning.

Biz Bits

Waynesboro crowds waited at dawn in the Target shopping center for the opening of Burlington (formerly Burlington Coat Factory) last month. Burlington joins other fast food chains and gas stations opening along Waynesboro’s 340 corridor west of town: Sheetz, Chipotle and Popeye’s.

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