Will Urban Wineries Catch on in Washington DC?
Urban wineries are one of the hot new trends in major cities across the country. It's still a relatively novel concept, the idea of vintners where there's no room for vineyards. So far, it hasn't become a reality in Washington DC itself although there is a wine country presence in parts of Virginia and Maryland. The idea could catch on in DC itself however - there are three wineries currently vying to occupy Dupont Underground, once a streetcar station.
Urban wineries first cropped up in Seattle and have since established themselves in cities such as San Francisco, Portland, Dallas, Brooklyn, Manhattan and even Cincinnati. The way it typically works is that a city-based winery owns or has an interest in vineyards that are relatively close by. For example, Bluxome Street Winery in downtown San Francisco trucks in its grapes from Sonoma and Russian River Valley. Times Ten Cellars in Dallas owns vineyards in the desert high country. Other micro-operations simply purchase grapes and press them in their own vats.
The idea of small urban wineries has been circulating in Washington DC for some time. So far, the hangup has been securing a large enough space to make it a viable operation. The start-up costs are significant and to be honest, the market is already flooded with wines from around the world. Ever browse the shelves at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's or Harris Teeter? From Australia to Chile to California, there are too many boutique labels to keep up with and many offer good quality at an extraordinarily affordable price. So what makes anyone think the concept will catch on in DC?
For one, the idea of an urban winery isn't simply about product. It's also the novelty factor, the notion that trends exist for a reason. Washington DC is a city that has banked big on the hip factor in recent years, recreating an environment once associated with blight and decay. Wine entrepreneurship could be yet another idea to catch on, merging a traditional craft with new sensibilities, perhaps even following the lead of some other urban wineries that combine live music with the opportunity for patrons to try their hand at the winemaking business.
So far, no decision has been reached in the case of the Dupont Underground. There are a number of suitors for the space, including art galleries and other creative groups. While there are alternative locations, DC isn't especially known as a warehouse district. As for vineyards, there is a plentiful supply of grapes in nearby areas such as Virginia's Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge as well as the western part of Maryland. Will urban wineries catch on in Washington DC? Only time will tell.
Andre Perez | District One Properties LLC | Realtor/Agent/Owner
1305 Leslie Ave, Alkexandria, VA 22301