Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dave McIntyre in the Washington Post Discusses the Impact of the Cases on Virginia Wine

Wine: The Cases have big plans for Sweely — and Virginia
By Dave McIntyre, Published: December 13
Washington Post

What happens when a conservative community, hesitant to change its ways and dependent for its livelihood on the slow cycle of the seasons, meets an innovator accustomed to rapid transformations in the way people live, work and communicate?

Now that Steve and Jean Case of America Online fame have bought themselves a winery, the Virginia wine industry might soon find out.

The couple behind the Case Foundation (which promotes philanthropy through technology) and Revolution (a venture-capital firm that champions “disruptive, innovative companies”) quietly purchased Sweely Estate, just off Route 29 in Madison, in July. Final regulatory approval for the license transfers was granted late last month.

The transition at Sweely, a seven-year-old winery that had slipped in and out of foreclosure for two years, has been remarkably low-key given the prominent buyers. It is a marked contrast to the spectacularly public bankruptcy of Kluge Estate, south of Charlottesville, which played out in the media until the winery was bought at auction this year by real estate mogul and TV star Donald Trump.

In a two-hour interview at the winery on a recent warm, sunny December morning, Jean Case described an ambitious, if not yet entirely mapped out, plan to help the Virginia wine industry expand to new markets.

“We’re Virginians for the past 30 years, and we like to see business grow in the state,” said Case, who lives with her husband and children in McLean. “Part of that is the excitement of helping a nascent industry on the brink of success. Our goal is for us and our team to be out in some markets in Virginia and building exposure for Virginia wines. There’s a beautiful opportunity to be out there with a wine and show people the quality it represents.”

Read the whole thing at: