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Boxin’ it up at Village Winery

Boxin' it up at Village

Kent MarrsKent Marrs of Village Winery in Waterford made an innovative business decision in late 2012.
Times-Mirror Photo/Trevor Baratko

A winery can't be everything, and it shouldn't bother trying. It can't be a cozy, small-scale operation and a sprawling facility that hosts wedding after wedding on the weekends and offers visitors multiple tasting rooms. It can't be a Ma-and-Pa shop and pump out 10,000 cases a year.

Kent Marrs, owner of Village Winery in Waterford, realizes this. And it's why Marrs has no intentions to open Village beyond its current Saturday and Sunday hours. It's also why Marrs has no plans to hire more help for his minimalistic tasting barn, out of which he sold a personal weekend record 70 cases of wine over the Memorial Day break.

Nah, Village is going to remain the same relatively small winery it's been since opening in 2005 -- offering impressive, estate-grown vin and a laid-back good time where you can mingle outside with a few goats and a sometimes-personable cow.

There is, however, a kicker that makes Village unique from the 30-something other wineries in D.C.'s Wine Country: Village offers its reds and whites and fruit wines exclusively in 3-liter boxes. No glass bottles. Never again, Marrs says.

“This was driven by our customers,” Marrs told me during an interview at his estate May 29. “We started with boxing just our apple wine. I even dropped the bottle price the same per volume price as the box, customers still wanted the box.”

The way Marrs describes it, his boxing method and approach is so simple and cost-efficient you wonder how long it'll be before other winemakers and general managers take note.

Customers appear the biggest winners with Marrs' decision to go strictly to the box, which came in late 2012. With plastic and cardboard cheaper than glass bottling, Marrs is able to pass the savings on to the customers. Most of his 3-liter boxes – equivalent to four standard bottles of wine – cost around $25. For anyone familiar with estate-grown wine in Virginia, paying $6 or $7 a bottle is unheard of.

Freshness is another perk. While most bottled wines have a shelf life of three-to-five days tops after opening, Village wines – which are actually poured out of a sealed plastic bag inside the box – stay drinkable for a couple months after popping the … umm, plastic.

“When you open a box the bag collapses inside which does not allow the wine to be exposed to oxygen thus keeping the wine fresh,” Marrs said.

Drinkers at the Waterford winery, which Marrs estimates will produce approximately 2,500 standard, 12-bottle cases this year – or 7,500 boxes – can take in and purchase viognier, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, various red blends and several other fruit wines, such as apple, raspberry and elderberry.


Featuring news on the Loudoun County wine industry, the Times-Mirror's “Wine Wednesday” appears the first Wednesday of each month. Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

-"Wine Wednesday" for May 1 -- Carroll Vineyards; Sunset’s solar power; and Purcellville Wine Kitchen
-"Wine Wednesday" for April 4 -- The Middleburg AVA; ‘Epicurience’ update; and ‘Virginia Uncorked’


Comments


Wow.  A winery that just makes wine…on site…and doesn’t just run a yuppie wine bar with wine brought in from elsewhere…and doesn’t annoy the neighbors with events like weddings! 

This is such a nice change from the over-priced, under-delivering “wineries” you see popping up all over western Loudoun.

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