Kim and Dan Kowalsky taste a blueberry wine made by Mattaponi Winery, a Native-American Virginia wine, located in Spotsylvania. (Sandra J. Pennecke | For The Virginian-Pilot)
19 wineries, 1,800 wine lovers, 1 big success
Chesapeake Community News Community
By Sandra J. Pennecke Virginian-Pilot correspondent
March 23, 2013
The premise for the inaugural 757 Wine Expo was “Great
Wines, Great Causes, Great Fun.”
It was readily apparent last Saturday that the more than
1,800 wine aficionados who gathered at the Chesapeake Conference Center made an
effort to achieve that trifecta during the event.
Attendees sipped wine created by 19 Virginia wineries. In
turn, $22,000 was raised for charity, according to Roland Davis, event
organizer with the Chesapeake Rotary Club.
The 757 Wine Expo was organized and sponsored by the
Chesapeake Rotary Club as a way to give patrons a similar experience to the
Chesapeake Virginia Wine Festival held each fall at City Park, only indoors.
“We wanted a nice event in the spring that could somehow
parallel the outdoor festival,” said Davis. “We think we accomplished that.”
Void of foul weather worries and kept to a much smaller
scale, the event still supported two local charities: The Boys and Girls Clubs
of Southeastern Virginia and the Rotary Club’s Paint Your Heart Out Chesapeake
In comparison, the annual outdoor wine festival at City Park
sees approximately 8,000 attendees and benefits eight or nine charities.
Saturday, attendees paid $35 per person to sample wine made
throughout Virginia, including Lake Anna Winery, Peaks of Otter Winery, The
Williamsburg Winery, Horton Vineyards, Trump Winery and others.
Artisans were as varied as the grape varietals, such as
paintings by Christopher Mize and hand-painted wine glasses by Team Spirits.
There were also vendors and wine -focused seminars by Total
Wine & More. Musical entertainment was provided by Lewis McGehee and his
Kelli Castelloe and Mike Custer, both of Chesapeake, have
attended other wine festivals in the area, but were delighted to be indoors
this time around.
“It’s just nice and you don’t have to worry about the
weather,” said Castelloe who had just purchased a bottle of wine from Bruce
Murray, wine maker with Byrd Cellars from Goochland, Va. Murray, too, was
pleased with the indoor venue and its turnout.
For Chaz Thomas, 25, of Virginia Beach, attending the 757
Wine Expo was a fun thing to get out and do with friends, but it made him feel
really good when he learned where the money was going.
“I attended the Boys and Girls Club on Azalea Garden Road in
Norfolk as a kid,” said Thomas. “I’m glad it goes to help such a good cause.”
Kim Kowalsky’s wine-glass holder decreed, “I love wine!”
which summed up what brought her and her husband, Dan, to the expo.
“We love coming to these wine tastings,” she said.
“This is our first wine festival of the year; we’re starting
it out right,” added Dan.