By Rachel Marston
After a long (and I mean long) day, I find myself pouring a small glass of vino to help me wind down. I typically grab something that has an appealing label from the Class Six and don’t really think about the story behind the winery. It was when my husband and I traveled to a local brewery festival I realized that I was missing out on a whole world of awesome veteran-owned businesses that have been or are springing up from coast-to-coast.
It’s not only brews that are peaking the interest of former service members; wine-making has made its imprint too. Now, when I go hunting for my next bottle of wine at the Class Six or if I know I’ll be travelling to part of the nation that includes their tasting room, I’ll swing by to give them my business.
Interested to learn more about and give veteran-owned wineries and vineyards a try? Get your corkscrew ready for these seven wineries!
Adams County Winery is a veteran-owned and operated winery with two additional shops close by to take advantage of. I came across the winery during a weekend visit to Gettysburg, PA (only about one hour and a half from Washington, D.C.!) two years ago. It also happens to be the fourth oldest running winery in Pennsylvania, open for more than 40 years.
Founded by two brothers, one an Air Force Academy graduate in finance and the other a free spirit that majored in creative writing, Blanchard Family Wines is the brainchild of what they have in common: their passion for wine-making. The winery is located in Sonoma County in the heart of California’s wine region and offers an online wine shop if you can’t visit the area or find it at your local vendor.
Fredericksburg Winery in Fredericksburg, TX is owned by Vietnam veteran aviator, Spencer Alwin Switzer, and is also one of the top-producing wineries in Texas. It’s only a couple hours’ drive from the San Antonio area and Killeen, making it the perfect addition to a quick day trip.
The owner of Indian Creek Winery retired from the Air Force (and earned a Bronze Star) a before opening up shop in Kuna, ID, his home state. You don’t think about Idaho being home to wineries, but Indian Creek Winery has become the “Grandfather of Idaho Wines”.
Owner Rob Mercer is a former Marine who served in the 90s and re-enlisted post-9/11. After service, he joined his brother to run the business. Mercer Estates Vineyard, located in eastern Washington State, boasts a handful of different vineyards including one called Eagle & Plow, dedicated to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for the nation. They have also been a part of fundraising and charity efforts linked to veteran and military family issues.
If you are considering a trip to the Napa Valley, their vineyard is worth a visit. The Taylor family includes Jerry, a Korean War veteran, and the vineyard is a 23-acre ranch-turned-winery. If you can’t make a trip out to Cali, join their wine club to get their bottles delivered straight to you.
6. Valor Winery
Valor Winery is just a hop, skip, and a jump from San Francisco…but don’t drive over yet! They are still working on a new tasting room for visitors. That shouldn’t that stop you from giving their wine a try by mail. Valor Winery also offers programs that teach other veterans enology (wine-making) and viticulture.