Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 1, 2009

Local vineyards: The fruits of hard work

Two Pulaski County wineries won the right to sell their product by vote — and have grown steadily since

Though they have been pioneers in once entirely “dry” Pulaski County, the owners of two local vineyards see their business much more simply.

Zane and Amy Burton, owners of Sinking Valley Winery and Jeff Wiles, owner of Cedar Creek Vineyard and Winery, were the first in Pulaski County’s history to open wineries, both went into the business because of their love for farming and to merely make a living.

“Really the first three years has been a little better than our business plan expected,” said Zane Burton. “However, we didn’t get the growth last year that we expected.”

Though Burton operates with a strategy in mind, in reality it was never a dream of his to produce wine or be the owner of the first winery in Pulaski County. The idea only came into play after tobacco farming began to decline. Previously, the Burtons depended on their tobacco crop for their income. As quotas were cut, they began to look into other alternatives.

In 1999, after touring several vineyards and wineries, the Burtons decided to take a chance and planted two acres of grapes. Over the next couple of years, the family tried some other alternatives, but found they didn’t work. Thus they looked to their grapes, which were slowly reaching full-bearing potential.

For the fruits of their labor to be sold on site, however, an option election in the Catron precinct of the county had to be held approving this exemption to Pulaski’s laws against the sale of alcohol. On April 15, 2003, the Burtons received enough votes, for wine to be legally sold in their precinct.

After much work to get ready, Sinking Valley Winery opened its doors to the public for the first time in December 2005. That day marked the first time Pulaski Countians were able to buy alcohol by the bottle locally in more than 70 years.

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