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Chateau Morrisette goes global with wine production

May 29, 2013|Nadine Maeser | WDBJ7 Multimedia Journalist

FLOYD CO., Va. — A southwest Virginia winery is cashing in on its crop and helping to put Virginia on the map.

Chateau Morrisette has called Floyd, Virginia home for years, but now it's reaching out to wine lovers on the other side of the world.

The winery sent its first shipment to China just a few weeks ago and another shipment is getting ready to leave in three weeks.

"It's more of a buyers market there," said Chateau Morrisette General Manager George Weldon.

Weldon said China could be a gold mine for Virginia's wine industry.

"China has a pollution problem that they are working very diligently to correct, but the Chinese wine buyers were looking for a wine they could sell to their consumers that had certifications of being clean and without any imperfections," he said.

It only took one trip to the Chateau Morrisette for a Chinese exchange company to sign the line on the deal.

"We found that they were the right partner for us because they really wanted to grow a branded business."

Since then, Chateau Morrisette has been working overtime to prep, filter, bottle and package the goods so they can be carefully shipped overseas out of Wilmington, NC.

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Weldon said it is a long and tedious process to ship thousands of cases at one time.

"We really don't want wine to get above 80 degrees ever and when you send it on a refrigerated container," he said. "They keep it around 40 degrees throughout its whole voyage and once it gets to China they take it into air conditioned warehouses."

It's been smooth sailing for the winery, but Weldon says there's still a lot of work to be done.

The winery signed on for a five year agreement with Tianjin Commodity Exchange Company Limited and they plan to increase their shipments every year.

However, the winery will need some help from Virginia leaders to do that.

"We would like the state government to help support the growth of more vineyards to support the growing wine industry in the state."

Weldon said Virginia leaders will eventually need to limit how many wineries pop up and focus more on expanding the vineyards that already have roots in Virginia.

"Because of our limited production in this state it makes our grape ton price non competitive with other states like California that grow grapes on a much larger scale."

The winery just planted a thousand new grape vines to help supply the demand they need to meet both in China and here at home.

Weldon said the grapes will not be ready until 2015.

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