SERVING THE ROANOKE/BLACKSBURG/NEW RIVER VALLEY REGION
Each winery blends its own formula for success
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CONTENTS SERVING THE ROANOKE/BLACKSBURG/ NEW RIVER VALLEY REGION
F E AT U R E S COVER STORY
Southwest Virginia wines
They’re a business, a hobby, a passion and sometimes a retirement plan. by Cara Ellen Modisett
EDUCATION International students
Language and culture institute aims to bring the world to Radford University. by Kevin Kittredge
VT KNOWLEDGEWORKS Competitive innovation
VT KnowledgeWorks challenges and rewards young entrepreneurs. by Joan Tupponce
TECHNOLOGY A sweet solution
A pair of Virginia Tech researchers looks to sugar to fuel bio-battery.
by Donna Alvis Banks
COMMUNITY PROFILE: BLACKSBURG
Blacksburg’s special blend
News from the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce
A small-town sense of community and a growing tech economy. by Anna Mallory
31st class of Leadership Roanoke Valley graduates
Member news & recognitions
INTERVIEW: DIANE FLYNT Old craft, modern science, premium cider Cider is the fastest-growing segment of the alcohol market in the United States. by Tim Thornton
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FROM THE EDITOR
didn’t plan to attend the ribbon cutting. I just happened to be in downtown Roanoke when I noticed a small crowd milling around on the new City Market square. So, I sat at a table and watched the goings on. A podium appeared in the middle of Market Street, and Mayor David Bowers stepped up to it and began to talk. The mayor praised the work that transformed the space and explained that it was really more complicated than it may have seemed because of underground utility issues. He praised developer Lucas Thornton and then called on Mark Williams – a prominent vendor whom the mayor refers to as mayor of the market – to help cut the ribbon. The city spent more than $1 million rearranging vendors’ stalls and turning parking spaces into an area for gathering and lingering in perhaps the city’s most iconic public space, so it wasn’t surprising there’d be a ceremony to mark the accomplishment. But some of what Bowers said would have seemed downright shocking a few years ago. He called Roanoke “a dynamic, proud city in the Appalachian Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.” There was a time when tying Roanoke to the Appalachian Mountains, or even the Blue Ridge, was not very popular. The city hasn’t always embraced its region and heritage. The Blue Ridge Parkway cuts a wide swath through North Carolina, but through much of Virginia – including around Roanoke, the largest city on the parkway – the average Little Leaguer could toss a baseball from one side of the parkway’s land to the other. Many saw the parkway as an inconvenience and an affront rather than a potential economic development tool that could leverage the region’s heritage and natural assets. Roanoke certainly wanted no part of the federal government’s official designation of Appalachia when the Appalachian Regional Commission was being formed in the 1960s. When John Alexander Williams wrote Appalachia: A History, he used Roanoke and its congressman as examples of resistance: “There were objections from within the region itself, from civic officials and boosters in Roanoke and Knoxville who resented being lumped with poor rural folks in an Appalachia defined as a national problem, for example, or from Congressman Richard Poff of Virginia, a Shenandoah Valley Republican who had his district cut out of official Appalachia as a protest against government activism.” All these years later, Bowers was standing on the market saying, “I got to tell you, Roanoke is the real thing. We’re the real McCoy.” The city’s market was a center of activity before Roanoke was a city. In the early 1980s, a century after the market began, it got a makeover that repurposed old buildings and brought new life. Now, 30 years later, it’s undergone another revitalization. “Here we are rebuilding Roanoke again,” Bowers said, “and we’re keeping that authenticity.” The new City Market is an updated version of what began there when Chester A. Arthur was president, but something of the original remains, something authentic. A city can’t survive on history alone, and sometimes tradition can devolve into a hidebound worldview. But it is easier to figure out who you want to be if you recognize and accept and embrace who you are. Roanoke is a dynamic, proud city in Appalachia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it grew with the railroad. Now it seems that amenities such as the City Market and the mountains and the trails and rivers that run through them can help retain and attract the kind of people the region needs to succeed in a new kind of economy that’s evolving every day. Authenticity, it turns out, is a good thing.
SERVING THE ROANOKE/BLACKSBURG/ NEW RIVER VALLEY REGION Vol. 3
President & Publisher Roanoke Business Editor Contributing Editor Contributing Writers
Art Director Contributing Designer Contributing Photographers
Production Manager Circulation Manager Accounting Manager Advertising Sales
Adrienne R. Watson Pam McCallister Christina O’Connor Don Petersen Anne Wernikoff Kevin L. Dick Karen Chenault Sunny Ogburn Lynn Williams Hunter Bendall
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on the cover Wine storage cave at Valhalla Vineyards Roanoke Photo by Don Petersen
Bernard A. Niemeier Tim Thornton Paula C. Squires Donna Alvis Banks Kevin Kittredge Anna Mallory Cara Ellen Modisett Joan Tupponce
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Valhalla Vineyardsâ€™ owners planted more than 14,000 vines and produce up to 2,000 cases of wine a year.
Theyâ€™re a business, a hobby, a passion and sometimes a retirement plan by Cara Ellen Modisett
Photo by Don Petersen
t sounds idyllic,” says Debra Vascik. “Just throw a few grapes in the ground and make some wine.” As this Roanoke vintner has learned, producing wine is more complicated than that. Yet the challenge hasn’t stopped Southwest Virginia from taking its place among the growing number of Virginia wineries. Whether their roots are an owner’s passion, a hobby or a fallback retirement plan, the region claims 13 wineries. One of them sells to China, helping Virginia extend its global reach as a serious wine contender. In the 2012-2013 fiscal year, Virginia wine sales hit a historic peak with a year-over-year increase of 400 percent in international sales (from 700 to more than 3,300 cases). More than 1,150 of those cases were part of a five-year deal between Chateau Morrisette, set near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County, and the Tianjin Commodity Exchange Company Limited in China. For Virginia, such success has been a long time coming. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson tried to make wine but succeeded only in growing grapes. The 19th century saw a resurgence of winemaking using native grapes. Then came Prohibition. Gradually, winemaking reappeared. Seven new Virginia wineries opened in the 1970s. In 1995, there were 46 wineries in Virginia; in 2007, 107. Now Virginia’s wineries number 230, and the commonwealth ranks fifth in the U.S. for number of wineries (behind California, New York, Oregon and Washington),
with an economic impact of $750 million and around 1.6 million tourism visits. Still, making wine is no easy task. Winemakers in Southwest Virginia contend with challenges of soil, weather and market. But they’ve carved niches in the hilly landscape, borrowing skills from careers in physical therapy, construction, microbiology or golf course maintenance to blend art, science and cultivation, in search of a perfect pour. Annette Boyd, executive director of the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office, points out that Southwest Virginia wineries “don’t have the large weekend traffic base like wineries in Northern Virginia or
In addition to tastings, Beliveau Estate offers 50 or more events in a year.
Charlottesville. I think they have to work smarter to fill their tasting rooms with customers.” Roanoke Business talked with five winery owners, and their stories show that working hard and smart is a must for success in the wine industry. Beliveau Estate, Montgomery County “The business plan was a winery and vineyard,” says Yvan Beliveau, a Quebec native who by day is head of the building construction department at Virginia Tech. “The bed and breakfast just sort of evolved.” In 2001, Yvan and his wife, Joyce, originally from Vermont, bought a 165-acre farm in Montgomery County. “We had been visiting really fantastic wineries around the world,” says Yvan. “For the past 30 years we had been thinking we 8
should do this.” They read books, studied geological surveys and developed a specific – some would say demanding – list of needs. “I was looking for specific kinds of soils,” says Yvan and for a landscape less susceptible to frost, with good drainage on southeast slopes. “Different grapes like different soils, and so you would like to have a varied soil profile across the farm.” The couple found a farm that fit those requirements. It offered 22 acres for planting, in a variety of soils – heavy clays, sandy loams, limestone, nutrient-poor and ironrich. The land, says Yvan, “hadn’t been farmed, except for grazing cattle and logging, for a long time.” It needed clearing, a winery and bed and breakfast needed building, and grapes needed planting. That work was done in 2009. Today, Joyce takes care of the
B&B and also the vineyard’s sizable special events calendar – 50 to 70 events a year – from corporate retreats to weddings. The winery also caters, thanks to a commercial kitchen. “It was a risk at the start,” says Yvan. “The problem with a winery is it takes a long time to recover the initial capital investment.” To make anything but a backroom winery, “You’ve got to have something close to a million dollars of investment.” Yvan’s background in building made the construction relatively unchallenging. For the B&B, “we took a turn-of-the-century house, which was very dilapidated, and built around it,” leaving the old stone fireplaces and a lot of the original doors and hinges, while adding “bedrooms and things” (such as a 2½-story living room). “It probably would have been easier Photo by Don Petersen
just to tear it down, but there were elements on it that we felt were worth saving.” The winery building is about 6,000 square feet, with 12-footwide doors. The Beliveaus planted lavender – “that’s really Joyce’s passion” – and have a few hundred plants. It sells sachets and culinary lavender and is starting to move into producing essential oils. Beliveau produces about 2,000 cases of wine a year, up from around 1,200 the first year in 2011. It employs two full-time and eight part-time workers and has plans for two more full-time positions by the end of the year. “We sell mostly in Virginia and mostly in our area, because we’re a small winery,” says Yvan. That includes some restaurants in Montgomery and Giles counties. Beliveau also has a wine club with about 100 members, some in California and North Carolina, and it sells to about 14 states through another company.
Beliveau Estate boasts nine prize-winning wines.
The geological surveys served the Beliveaus well: they haven’t lost much to weather, six vines Yvan estimates, “out of several thousand.”
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As for the wines, the owners describe them as: “Flavorful and lots of intensity ... but not anything like what you’d get out of California Italy is a lot closer than you think!
For 25 years we have specialized in growing Italian grape varieties and producing fine wines presented in a charming Villa nestled in the hills surrounding the Blue Ridge Parkway. Come to relax, sample our wines, enjoy a lunch, play bocce or attend one of our music events. July 12., August 2., August 9, Sept. 13, Sept. 27, and October 11.
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Photo by Don Petersen
Villa Appalaccia Winery
Mp.170.3 on the Parkway. Next to FloydFest and one mile from Chateau Morrisette We are open Friday-Sunday & Holidays. Details at www.villaappalaccia.com email@example.com 540-358-0357
Valhalla Vineyards’ tasting room sits at 2,000 feet, overlooking Roanoke, with a view as far as the Peaks of Otter.
… Higher pH, lower total acidity, a much more of a jammy profile.” Award winners include three vidal blancs, a pinot grigio, chardonnay and traminette in whites; cabernet, red zinfandel and chambourcins in reds. Valhalla Vineyards, Roanoke “If people knew the process, they would never think it would be fun,” says Debra Vascik about running a winery. The problem is the paperwork. ”There’s federal, there’s state, there’s local – it’s a very, very highly regulated system, and there’s still a lot that is a hangover from the Prohibition era.” Vascik estimates that about 40 hours of paperwork are required on average every month. “There’s a tremendous amount of legal things that have to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. You have to have tremendous recordkeeping, and basically every drop 10
of alcohol that you produce, you drink and you sell you have to account for and pay taxes on at multiple levels,” she says. Despite the paperwork, Valhalla was born from love. Debra says it was “a passion and interest – we both just loved wine.“ Jim Vascik, Debra’s husband, is a neurosurgeon who is still practicing, and Debra is a former physical therapist. Some of her former skills, she says, carry over. “Great chemistry skills and attention to detail and”, she laughs, “vine management and patient management. They’re like little children. You can’t just turn ’em loose and let ’em go … They’ve got to have a lot of love and care. They require a lot of supervision.” In 1997 Valhalla did its first “custom crush,” producing about 800 cases of wine. By 1999, when the vines were all a minimum of 4 years old, the winery was up to 2,000 cases. Its current yearly pro-
duction is between 1,800 and 2,000 cases. “I know we planted over 14,000 vines,” says Debra. “We have fine-tuned the vineyard, which everybody does once you know what grows well, what doesn’t perform well.” Valhalla’s tasting room, built in 2004, sits at 2,000 feet, overlooking the city of Roanoke, with a view as far as Peaks of Otter. Valhalla, like Beliveau, is an estate winery, meaning the Vasciks grow all of the grapes they use for their wines. Valhalla hosts special events, including weddings and receptions, and has a full-time person on staff dedicated to events, a growing area of business for the winery. Storms can wreak havoc. “Seeing a beautiful crop in September and October, and a hurricane rolling in, and losing the entire crop and there’s nothing you can do ... it happens a lot in Virginia,” but doesn’t affect other major winegrowing areas, says Debra. “That’s Photo by Don Petersen
something that California doesn’t experience ... France gets rain, but it doesn’t get hurricanes. In 2003, the vineyard was hit with the effects of five of them.” According to Debra, Valhalla is a boutique winery that fills a specific niche. “We were handcrafting boutique red wines, and that was not here [in this region],” says Debra. “I think it’s still the niche we fill.” The wines: “I think our customers love our big reds – that’s what we’ve been known for – our Bordeaux blends, our cabs.” Awardwinning wines include chardonnays, viognier, dry rose, sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, norton, cabernet/shiraz, and a few operatically inspired blends: Gotterdammerung and valkyrie. Brooks Mill Winery, Wirtz “Both sides of my family grew apples and peaches,” says H.T. Page, who runs the 250-case-ayear Brooks Mill Winery near Smith Mountain Lake. He grew up in Nelson County, helping his father and his grandfather with their farms and orchards, “nipping peaches” and emptying the buckets filled by the peach pickers. “The pickers picked by volume, and the nippers worked by the hour.” Farming was not for Page. “I knew I couldn’t do it and survive, make a living.” He worked on The Homestead golf courses through high school and college, and in 1991, he came to work at The Waterfront Country Club and Golf Course in Moneta as a greens superintendent and later as maintenance director. He says he loves his work and doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon. So for now, Brooks Mill is mostly a hobby. But it’s a hobby to retire on, and the niche he and his wife, Rhonda, found was fruit wines, particularly blackberry. They started planting seven years ago and began producing wine about five years ago. According to Page, Photos by Don Petersen
Valhalla’s Debra Vascik says vines are”like little children. You can’t just turn ’em loose and let ’em go … They’ve got to have a lot of love and care. They require a lot of supervision.”
“The blackberry’s a little more forgiving” than the grape. “We have dry wines, which are really different as far as fruit wines are concerned,” while fruit wine itself, he notes, has an iffy reputation. “Sometimes it’s difficult to even get a traditional wine drinker to try it.”
Brooks Mill produces dry blackberry and pear wines, semidry blackberry, blueberry and plum wines, and sweet cherry, peach, pear and blackberry. The Pages grow most of the fruit themselves but do buy some: blueberries from Rainbow Hill Farm in Ferrum, peaches from
Summer tastings at Villa Appalachia include olive oils, olives and balsamic vinegar.
Where the wines are Amrhein’s Wine Cellars
Fincastle Vineyard and Winery
9243 Patterson Drive Bent Mountain, VA 24059 540-929-4632 AmRheins.com
203 Maple Ridge Lane Fincastle, VA 24090 540-591-9000 fincastlewine.com
Firefly Hill Vineyards
4025 Childress Road Christiansburg, VA 24073 540-382-7619 attimowinery.com
4289 Northfork Road Elliston, VA 24087 540-529-5814 fireflyhill.com
Lexington Valley Vineyard
5415 Gallion Ridge Road Blacksburg, VA 24060 540-961-0505 maisonbeliveau.com
80 Norton Way Rockbridge Baths, VA 24473 540-462-2974 lexingtonvalleyvineyard.com
Blue Ridge Vineyard 1027 Shiloh Drive Eagle Rock, VA 24085 540-798-7642 blueridgevineyard.com
Peaks of Otter Winery 2122 Sheep Creek Road Bedford, VA 24523 540-586-3707 peaksofotterwinery.com
Brooks Mill Winery 6221 Brooks Mill Road Wirtz, VA 24184 540-721-5215 brooksmillwine.com
Valhalla Vineyards 6500 Mount Chestnut Road Roanoke, VA 24018 540-725-9463 valhallawines.com
Chateau Morrisette 287 Winery Road SW Floyd, VA 24091 540-593-2865 thedogs.com
Villa Appalaccia 752 Rock Castle Gorge Floyd, VA 24091 540-358-0357 villaappalaccia.com
Virginia Mountain Vineyards 4204 Old Fincastle Road Fincastle, VA 24090-3559 540-473-2979 vmvines.com
local orchards and Drumheller’s in Nelson, local pears and local and commercial plums. “We freeze just about all of our fruit.” That way they can make the wine in batches, usually 80 gallons at a time. Homestead Creamery freezes some of it for them. “The grape growers, when [the grapes are] ripe, they have to do it” right then and there, says Page. “The blackberries don’t ripen all at once – they ripen over about a month.” As for the future: “I don’t want it to be too big.” Volunteers help them at festivals and during the winemaking. Rhonda, who’s retired from banking, dedicates herself full time to the winemaking. The couple has a small winery building and tasting room. The winery hosts smaller events – wedding showers and family gatherings of no more than 20 – and is pet-friendly and kid-friendly. Overall, Page describes it as a low-key affair: “Bring a picnic lunch, sit under a tree and enjoy the day.” Villa Appalaccia, Patrick County Susanne Becker and Stephen Haskill come to the business of winemaking from science backgrounds. Both worked in research at U.N.C. Chapel Hill: Becker in immunology and environmental pollution; Haskill in cancer research and molecular biology. “A background in microbiology and chemistry has been helpful in understanding fermentation technology and winery hygiene,” says Becker. Beyond the science, though, the couple has turned their winery near Floyd into a bit of Italy. The winery was built to resemble an Italian farmhouse, 1,600 feet up on Bull Mountain. It serves plates of cheese and appetizers, and some weekends the Beckers make pizza in a wood-fired oven. Tastings are
Photo by Don Petersen
not restricted to wine. Summers include lunch tastings of olive oils, olives and balsamic vinegar, and in the fall, the winery offers local and Italian cheese tastings. The shale and gray clay soil is similar to the soil of Tuscany. Becker and Haskill first planted Italian grapes there in 1989. They wanted to start with chianti, a blend of red and white grapes, and so planted sangiovese and pinot grigio (still relatively new in the U.S.). The pinot grigio did well, but the sangiovese not as much. “We now only release a sangiovese wine when the intensity is there,” says Becker, “and when not, we blend sangiovese into our most popular ‘Italy-inspired’ toscanello wine.” Besides offering a taste of Italy in Virginia, Becker and Haskill also offer Italy in Italy, renting out Casa Clara, a 300-year-old vacation home in the Tuscan hills they bought in 2004 and renovated. Their take on Villa wines: “To-
Villa Appalaccia, on Bull Mountain, near the Floydfest site, was built to resemble an Italian farmhouse.
day our premium wine comes from the aglianico grape. Toscanello, a blend of cabernet franc, sangiovese and primitivo, is still the favorite.” The simpatico, a white
wine, is a blend of malvasia with vidal blanc. Award winners have included cabernet franc, toscanello, pinot grigio, the simpatico and the aglianico.
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International students Language and Culture Institute aims to bring the world to Radford University
Photo by Christina Oâ€™Connor
Charlene Dandrow, associate director of the newly opened Language and Culture Institute at Radford University, works with the program’s first student, Arisara “Tam” Ekkul, a rising college sophomore visiting from Thailand.
by Kevin Kittredge
atherine Hawkins is on a global mission. The dean of Radford University’s College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences wants her university – whose students come mostly from Virginia – to look a little more like the world. Hawkins is spearheading a universitywide effort to bring more international students to the campus. “Many of our students will never be able to study abroad,” she says. “Their closest opportunity to interact with people from other countries would be on this campus. And the best way to do that is to bring them here.” To make that happen, Hawkins and RU have partnered with the Language and Culture Institute at Virginia Tech to offer intensive study in the English language on the Radford campus. Offering English language classes, say university officials, is critical to attracting more international students. Although there is no obligation, the university hopes many of those who come to improve their English language skills at Radford will remain to pursue a Radford University degree. “We really are hoping that at least half of them will want to stay,” Hawkins said. Under the leadership of Charlene Dandrow, the new Radford branch of the LCI has begun offering language instruction for international students at Young Hall. Its first student arrived in June from Thailand. Radford, founded as a women’s college a century ago to help supply Virginia with schoolteachers, has historically drawn most of its students from Virginia. But Hawkins said the number of international students was once larger than it is now. The numbers began to drop, she says, after a previous English language institute on campus closed its doors, a decade or more ago. ROANOKE BUSINESS
Charlene Dandrow (left), associate director of RU’s Language and Culture Institute and Rhonda Conner, the institute’s program coordinator.
The exact number of international students currently on campus is elusive, as definitions of “international students” vary, and Radford’s own numbers appear to conflict. According to figures provided by university spokesman Joe Carpenter, the number of international students has dropped modestly since 1995, the earliest year for which numbers were available – from 224 in 1995 to 189 last year. The university’s online Electronic Fact Book, however, put the number of Radford students from foreign countries last year at just 66, while the website for RU’s Institutional Research, Reporting and Assessment put the number of “non-resident alien” undergraduates last year, including all undergraduate international students, at 56. Radford’s total student population was nearly 10,000 in academic year 2013-14. Carpenter says the data is “captured at different times and has to meet varying definitions,” which 16
makes it hard to compare numbers. Still, Radford’s numbers are clearly small compared with many schools, including neighbor Virginia Tech. Tech had close to 3,000 international students last year, according to the school’s online fact book. As for Radford, “It needs to be more than it is now,” Hawkins says. Enter Virginia Tech, whose language and culture institute has been around for 40 years. The institute works with otherwise qualified international students whose English is sub-par, providing them with “a pathway into the university that wouldn’t otherwise exist,” says Donald Back, director of Tech’s Language and Culture Institute. “They’ve been doing this for a long time, and they have really well-established networks all around the world,” notes Hawkins. “We can’t re-create that.” Back says the Virginia Tech LCI contracted with Radford to help recruit and tutor international stu-
dents in English for five years. The costs of attending the new Radford branch of the institute will be borne by the students. After five years, Back says, it is possible that Radford could take over the program itself. Why are international students so critical to Radford? Hawkins cites the global economy, and the near certainty that RU graduates will have to work with people from other countries and cultures in their careers. People who have had little contact with the world outside Virginia will find themselves at a disadvantage in the job market after graduation, she says. “One of the most important things that we can do is help them to understand that they live and work in an international community. The workplace is much more diverse than it’s ever been. In every sphere, they’re going to be dealing more and more with folks who represent different cultures, difPhoto by Christina O’Connor
ferent nations. So they have to be prepared for that.” The new Radford LCI has four classrooms and two offices, and it will have five teachers. It can handle about 50 students. The institute had received 18 applications as of early June. According to Back, they hope to have 40 to 50 students studying there by the fall of 2015. Radford’s short-term goal, says Hawkins, is to bring the international student population back at least to where it was a quarter century ago, while long-term she hopes the number of international students at Radford will continue to rise. The campus already is gearing up to handle more international students, including those whose English language skills are rudimentary or nonexistent. The university has even put together a picture book to help students communicate a problem or find their way. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had this kind of student on campus, so all of the campus support services have to be brought up to speeds and have to be aware,” says Hawkins. “Everyone is so excited, and they’re all pitching in to help,” says Dandrow. “That has just made it so much more enjoyable for me.” Some area residents also are putting out the welcome mat. Renee Hidalgo, missions pastor at Radford’s New Horizons Church, says members are available to meet international students at the airport and will also prepare welcome baskets for them. Some are willing to be host families as well. While Radford LCI students can stay on campus during the summer months, come fall they will have to find off-campus housing. “We’re open for whatever the university would like us to do,” Hidalgo says. They may have to wait awhile. The new Radford LCI officially opened for classes this summer, Photo by Christina O’Connor
Radford University’s Language Institute, the university’s support services and the greater community are preparing for what RU hopes will be a big increase in international students.
but as of early June, it had only one student, Arisara “Tam” Ekkul of Bangkok. She is a student at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, and plans to return to Thailand after studying at the Radford LCI this summer. Her uncle, Kiertisak
Toh, is a business and economics professor at Radford, which is why she chose to come, she said. “I like it here,” Ekkul says. “She’s been so brave and so patient,” says Dandrow. “She’s a pioneer.”
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Falling Branch Virtual Shell
Business parks booming with opportunity in Montgomery County Artist’s rendering
ontgomery County has a great problem to have. Its business parks are Àlling up. Home of Virginia Tech and the towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, the community is riding a promising wave of economic success. Since 2012, it and the surrounding New River Valley have been recognized as a top place in the country for job growth by CNBC, Forbes, and 24/7 Wall St. Falling Branch Corporate Park (www. FallingBranchCorporatePark.com) in Christiansburg is a prime example of growth and opportunity in the county. Located at the convergence of Interstate 81 and U.S. Route 460 bypass, the 170-acre upscale industrial park is 10 minutes from Blacksburg and 25 minutes from Roanoke. The park has a 1 million gallon water tank, its own electric substation fed by a
redundant 138 Kv transmission line, and redundant Àber available through multiple internet providers. “The park’s infrastructure is quite impressive, even by industrial standards,” says Brian Hamilton, Economic Development Director of Montgomery County. “Falling Branch is a great location for any industry needing direct interstate access and ample, reliable power, water and gigabit bandwidth.” New development in Falling Branch has greatly accelerated over the past few years. In 2012, Utah-based Backcountry. com opened its $22 million, 315,000 square-foot East Coast fulÀlment center. One month later, Aeroprobe Corporation announced plans to invest $3 million to construct its 20,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility. The
Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg
momentum carried over into 2013 with Polymer Solutions Incorporated announcing a new $2.9 million, 20,000-square-foot headquarters and testing lab in the park. The Economic Development Authority of Montgomery County (EDA) is looking to build upon Falling Branch’s recent success. It has completed full architectural and civil plans for a 105,000 square-foot Áex building on Lot 2. Measuring 16.7 acres, Lot 2 has excellent visibility from Interstate 81. The Falling Branch Virtual Shell is shovel ready upon receiving a letter of intent and expandable to 205,000 square feet. The EDA also has several other graded lots remaining, ranging from 3.7 acre and 9.5 acres. The Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (www.vtcrc.com) is a visible example of the growing technology sector
Blacksburg Technology Building
SPONSORED REPORT in Montgomery County. The 230-acre research park, adjacent to Virginia Tech’s campus in Blacksburg, boasts over 1 million square feet of Class A ofÀce and lab space in 30 buildings. Another 16 buildings are slated for construction in Phase II of the park. The Corporate Research Center (CRC) is currently home to over 160 research, technology and support companies and centers in a diversity of industry sectors, ranging from biotech to software development. Total park employment tops 2,700. Earlier this year, San Antonio-based Rackspace Hosting opened its new $5.5 million, 31,000-square-foot ofÀce in the park. The CRC has a unique business model unlike most research parks. Businesses located in the CRC beneÀt from shortterm, Áexible lease options; quality support services; employee amenities; and its innovative, entrepreneurial culture facilitates productive collaborations. “We don’t just offer commercial real estate,” says Joe Meredith, CRC President. “We devote a great deal of time and energy toward helping companies here grow and be successful. If they succeed, we succeed.” That business model has certainly paid off. The CRC’s success received international attention in 2010 when it was named the Outstanding Science/Research Park of the Year by the Association of University Research Parks. The CRC has a number of existing suites available for lease ranging from several hundred square feet all the way up to 7,000 square feet. For companies needing larger increments of space, the CRC has
build-to-suit lease options. Graded sites, ranging from 2 to 9 acres, are also available for long-term lease for companies interested in constructing and owning their own building. Blacksburg Industrial Park (www. YesMontgomeryVA.org/BIP) is in a state of resurgence. Located off U.S. 460 Bypass, it is the closest industrial park to Virginia Tech and the CRC. Home of several major manufacturers, including Federal Mogul and Wolverine Advanced Materials, the park began running out of developable sites in the early 2000s. ______________________________________________
“We have a lot of opportunities for continued growth in Montgomery County,” says Hamilton. “Whether it’s Falling Branch, Blacksburg Industrial Park or the CRC, there are a wide variety of sites and buildings available to meet any number of industrial or corporate users. The possibilities are endless and that’s exciting for our community.” ______________________________________________ In 2012, the EDA leveraged a publicprivate partnership to open 60 additional acres for development in the Blacksburg Industrial Park. Phase V is located adjacent to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and the Virginia Smart Road – a 2.2-mile, controlled-access test track built to interstate standards. Phase V available lots range from 4 to 4.5 acres. Proximity to the Virginia Smart Road
was a beneÀt for TORC Robotics, a leader in robotic autonomous vehicle solutions. Earlier this year, the company announced a $3 million expansion in Phase V. The EDA is supporting the expansion by constructing a 20,000-square-foot facility for TORC to lease. The company has also purchased 10 additional acres in Phase V to build an off-road test track for its autonomous vehicles. The Blacksburg Technology Building is another prime example of the EDA investing in the Blacksburg Industrial Park. The 109,000-square-foot building is a state-ofthe-art facility with an 11,000-square-foot Class 100 to 10,000 cleanroom. The building was constructed in 2002 and is owned and managed by the EDA. The Blacksburg Technology Building currently has a 55,000-square-foot suite available for lease. The suite includes the 11,000-square-foot clean room and has a combination of Class A ofÀce, dry lab and warehouse space. The clean room features air, deionized water, nitrogen and vacuum loops; acid waste scrubber; 400 ton chiller and a 1,000-square-foot hazardous storage facility. The suite also has an open cafeteria area with an adjoining outdoor patio overlooking the scenic beauty of Ellett Valley. The suite can be leased as is or can be renovated to meet the unique needs of a prospective tenant. “We have a lot of opportunities for continued growth in Montgomery County,” says Hamilton. “Whether it’s Falling Branch, Blacksburg Industrial Park or the CRC, there are a wide variety of sites and buildings available to meet any number of industrial or corporate users. The possibilities are endless and that’s exciting for our community.”
Brian Hamilton, CEcD Economic Development Director 540-382-5732
Falling Branch Corporate Park in Christiansburg
Competitive innovation VT KnowledgeWorks challenges and rewards young entrepreneurs
Photo by Anne Wernikoff
VT KnowledgeWorks competitions give would-be entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their ideas. It’s a road to real life businesses for some of them. by Joan Tupponce
ver wonder what happens to student entrepreneurs who win major competitions? In the case of YouFolio co-founders Matt Moore and Kayvon Kaviani, winning the Student Business Concept Competition in the 2012 VT KnowledgeWorks Entrepreneurship Challenge gave them a huge entrepreneurial boost. The two former Virginia Tech students designed an online portfolio that allows users to showcase their work, experience and achievements. Apparently, it appealed to more than the contest judges. After their win, the pair was chosen to be part of the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program. They raised $300,000 in seed capital from angel investors. And today they work with two major clients out of an office in 1776, a co-working space in Washington, D.C. “All of that was as a result of winning,” Kaviani says. “It was a big stamp of approval. We would not be here doing what we are doing if we had not taken that leap of faith and put ourselves in front of the judges.” VT KnowledgeWorks is housed at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. It encourages and empowers entrepreneurship by helping market-worthy ventures organize, form a strategy and obtain outside investments. The venture started the Annual Entrepreneurship Challenge in 2009. Each year teams from Virginia Tech present their business concepts and compete to win $10,000 in scholarships and start-up services as well as the opportunity to compete in the Annual VT KnowledgeWorks Global Challenge, which is being held in August. This year’s local student winner is Vestigo. It proposed ROANOKE BUSINESS
VT KnowledgeWorks For the YouFolio team, winning the student competition led to other opportunities that jumpstarted their business.
a system that includes an app with the ability to help people find parking places. Vestigo will compete in the global challenge, the epicenter of
VT KnowledgeWorks’ Global Partnership Week. The event helps expand the region’s brand recognition around the world and creates ever-growing global networks.
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“We aren’t well known internationally, and the best way to become known is give people a reason and the opportunity to come” and then send them home “thoroughly impressed,” says Jim Flowers, executive director of VT KnowledgeWorks. “Twenty years from now these students will be in influential positions in their home country. They will not only be familiar with the Roanoke-Blacksburg region but they will also have a positive image of it when they go home.” Students and teachers competing in the challenge stay in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region with a host family for a week and shadow companies similar to the business concept they are proposing. They have opportunities throughout the week to interact with other global competitors. The winning team takes home $25,000 while two finalist teams win $5,000 each. The first year of the competition, seven teams participated. This year the number has doubled to 14. Competitors come from as far away as Australia, North Africa and South America. “We have a broad spectrum of students,” says Flowers. A handful of the winning teams have gone on to open businesses. Photo by Anne Wernikoff
Team Auticiel, winner of the 2013 Global Student Business Concept Challenge, for example, pursued its business idea: “ApplicationsAutisme.com.” The team partnered with the Orange Foundation and UNAPEI, a federation of associations in France representing people with intellectual disabilities, to launch the first interactive site that enables caregivers and the parents of those who suffer from autism to find specially designed applications. Currently, the site lists almost 100 relevant applications. Auticiel represented Telecom Ecole de Management in Evry, France, in the competition.
places such as Asia.” Sponsors understand the importance of the program as it relates to future global relationships, Flowers says. “People recognize the downstream value and are willing to invest in it. This will pay off five to 20 years down the road … At the end of the day people do business with people, and this is about personal connections. This is a much better way to build business networks in foreign countries.” Stephen Epstein was a master’s degree student at Tech last year when he won the 2013 Student Business Concept Competition for his concept: Pure Air: Emergency Asthma and COPD Inhalers. He
Success Can’t Be Measured In Square Feet.
Siddhartha Roy talks about Detect-C, which detects cholera bacteria in water in 15 to 20 minutes.
Several companies from the Roanoke-Blacksburg region sponsor the event, including San Antonio-based Rackspace Hosting. Many of the entrants are working in software development and creating apps. “We have a lot of competence in that area,” says Doug Juanarena, vice president of Rackspace’s Blacksburg operations. “We have a lot of subject matter experts that could help coach the contestants.” As a judge of the competition, Juanarena has seen some very “innovative ideas and some very passionate people that you know will be successful,” he says. “These are enthusiastic, smart kids with a lot of courage to come here from Photo by Anne Wernikoff
filed a provisional patent last year prior to competing in the global competition and is still in the process of developing his product. An asthma sufferer himself, Epstein has already built four prototypes. “To me it’s one of the greatest opportunities at Virginia Tech,” he says of the challenge. “The months leading up to the competition I was able to get in contact with some of the top CEOs in the medical industry because I had a background story about competing in the challenge.” Moore and Kaviani of YouFolio also are opening new doors. “In our story, VT KnowledgeWorks is one of the inflection points of our journey,” Kaviani says.
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A sweet solution A pair of Virginia Tech researchers looks to sugar to fuel bio-battery by Donna Alvis Banks
Zhiguang Zhu (left) and Y.H. Percival Zhang and their bio-battery.
Photo by Christina O’Connor
weeeet!” That was the collective exclamation from scientists, environmentalists and gadget geeks earlier this year when two Virginia Tech researchers showed the world they could build a better battery. A bio-battery, that is, from sugar. For the past 20 years, scientists have experimented with ways to power devices through various organic compounds. They have tried everything from human body fluids (as in blood, sweat and urine) to waste paper, bacteria and even shots of vodka. The goal? To create batteries that don’t produce harmful emissions, are affordable and biodegradable and make efficient use of energy. For Y.H. Percival Zhang and Zhiguang Zhu, success was so close they could almost taste it. In January, Zhang and Zhu presented a prototype battery – more accurately, a rechargeable fuel cell – that runs on sugar. The prototype (about the size of a regular AA battery) doesn’t yet use the kind of sugar that goes into Grandma’s cake recipe, but it might someday. Zhang and Zhu say sugar, as in carbohydrates or starches, is the most renewable carbon compound. Their battery uses maltodextrin, a carbohydrate commonly found in processed foods. ROANOKE BUSINESS
technology Fangfang Sun, a research scientist for Cell-Free Bioinnovations Inc., works on enzyme purification.
“Sugar is a great energy carrier in nature,” explains Zhu, 29. “We eat sugar to provide energy to ourselves. We just try to mimic nature’s way. Dr. Zhang initiated this idea. Actually, it is not new. Other scientists also tried to use sugar as the fuel for the battery.” Zhang explains that he got the idea in 2008 while attending an an26
nual workshop of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Before that, “I worked on sugar hydrogen. Later, I realized that a change of the last step allowed [us] to produce electricity directly without hydrogen,” says Zhang, 43, who was hired as an assistant professor in Tech’s Department of Biological Systems Engineering in 2010.
The two Chinese-born researchers used a solution containing maltodextrin, a cornstarch product, in their fuel cell. When combined with air, the solution generated electricity, with water as the main byproduct. What made the battery special was the fact that it could store 10 times more energy than previous batteries. Zhu, who got his doctorate from Tech in 2013, says the fuel cell works when the sugar is catalyzed – or burned – by enzymes. “On the anode side, the electrons generated by the enzymes are transferred out to power the electronic devices. On the cathode side, the oxygen is reacted with the proton to generate water.” Zhang says the key is to release electron charges stored in the sugar solution slowly, using 13 enzymes and air to produce nearly 24 electrons from a single glucose unit. While other researchers have used sugar to power batteries in the past, they were not able to achieve such energy density. The Tech researchers noted in the Jan. 21 issue of the journal Nature Communications, that breaking down the sugar solution through a synthetic enzyme pathway allowed them “to generate nearly constant power output rather than a peak power over a short time. Simply put, that means the sugar battery could last twice as long as the current lithium-ion batteries used in devices such as cell phones. Zhang and Zhu believe sugar batteries will be used as green power sources for a variety of electronics in the near future. In fact, Zhu says that using a sugar battery will be easy. “Buy the sugar and enzyme powders. Dump it into the battery and put water in,” he explains. “It will work. It is like adding the ink into the printer toner.” Word is spreading about Zhang and Zhu’s work. Tom Clarke, a biologist at the University of East Anglia – a research-intensive pubPhoto by Christina O’Connor
Fangfang Sun (left) and Dr. Zhiguang Zhu work on the expression and purification of enzymes needed for the sugar bio-battery at Cell-Free Bioinnovations, Inc.’s lab in Seitz Hall at Virginia Tech.
lic university in Norwich, England – recently learned of the breakthrough. In an email to Roanoke Business, the biologist said Zhu and Zhang’s work “has greatly improved bio-battery potential and brought the commercialization of such systems much closer.” Clarke led a research team in 2013 that discovered that bacteria, lying directly on the surface of a metal or mineral, could transfer an electrical charge through membranes, thus advancing the effort to create efficient bio-batteries from bacteria. He says the Tech research could help further medical applications. “In the longer term,” he wrote, “these bio-batteries could be powered from glucose in the bloodstream, giving a constant power supply to implants such as pacemakers within the body.” An obvious advantage of the sugar battery, according to Clarke, “is that these are readily degradable, in comparison with conventional batteries that contain nondegradable toxins.” Photos by Christina O’Connoir
The sugar-driven bio-battery is about the size of a AA battery.
Safety, high-energy storage density, fuel availability and affordability are other apparent benefits. Zhu says there are still two main disadvantages, however: “The power output is still too low. The lifetime of the enzymes is still short.” Zhang also points out that the battery cannot work at extremely low temperatures. The two will continue to work on improving the lifetime and
power output of the battery with the goal of making it available for commercial use in as soon as three years. To that end, Zhang founded Cell-Free Bioinnovations Inc. The company rents Zhang’s lab in Tech’s Seitz Hall and has three fulltime employees, including Zhu. In April, the company received a $677,745 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation. Zhang and Zhu have filed a global patent for their battery. If things go as planned, “The first product could be a disposable cellular phone charger,” Zhang says. “We will seek business partners for manufacturing and retailing.” Zhu adds that both Samsung and Nokia already have expressed interest in their work. Mary Leigh Wolfe, head of Tech’s Biological Systems Engineering Department, says Zhang and Zhu’s work is a big step forward: “Getting these kinds of solutions out is what we’re all about. We’re all excited to see how it develops.” ROANOKE BUSINESS
Residents enjoy a summer evening along College Avenue in downtown Blacksburg.
COMMUNITY PROFILE | Blacksburg
Blacksburg’s special blend A small-town sense of community and a growing tech economy by Anna Mallory
Throughout town – and in the surrounding community in Christiansburg and Montgomery County – are technology-based businesses, part of an economyfeeding stream of ideas flowing from Virginia Tech. “I think what’s happened is there’s been an energy that’s really, really strong right now around technology and entrepreneurship,” says Derick Maggard, director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Photo by Christina O’Connor
lacksburg has a bucolic, leisurely bent. Yet this close-knit college community also boasts a burgeoning hightech, creative-based economy that residents say is the town’s secret to remaining “a special place.” And they’re hoping to capitalize on it. “We are a real community that seeks to support each other through business,” says Beth Parker, incoming president of the Blacksburg Newcomers’ Club. The club works to help New River Valley newcomers assimilate into the region with a series of group outings, fundraisers and more. Blacksburg, home to about 42,000, according to 2010 Census data, includes two of the top employers in Montgomery County. They are Virginia Tech and Moog Components Group. Moog slip the Innovation and EntrepreneurVirginia Techproduces is leading ring assemblies and fiber-optic comship. way, with many of its graduates for military, aerospace Until July 1, Maggard was ponents ex- electing to remain in the and area to commercial markets. ecutive director of the Roanoke- forge their own economic ventownItsshowcases a downBlacksburg Technology Council,The tures. alumni offices work town lined with small clothing shops, in which shepherds new business- with grads to return or remain eateries, stores andtoart gales and promotes the Roanokethejewelry area. According university leries. Most are members of DownBlacksburg region as a promising data, since 2010 at least 12 alumni town Blacksburg Inc., an association place for tech firms and the peo- have founded or led companies of merchants and property owners ple they employ. “We’re not necesnearly downtown 500 jobs and whosethat goalcreated is to promote sarily recruiting companies,” Magsparked $13 million in economic and its economic development. gard says. “We’re home-growing growth in Montgomery County. these companies.” Several companies, including ROANOKE BUSINESS
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Comprehensive Computer Solutions, Harmonia, Modea and UXB International, have been named to Inc. Magazine’s prestigious list of the fastest-growing companies in the nation. Six years ago, Blacksburg landed on Forbes Best Small Places for Business and Careers as well as CNN Money’s Top Places to Live and Launch. The latter cited the pool of talented Virginia Tech graduates. Many of them stick around to launch or work at tech companies based in the university’s fast growing Corporate Research Center, a 120-acre research park and incubator with 130 private companies in occupancy. That connection has gotten stronger in the past few years, says Maggard. VT Knowledgeworks in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center is the starting point for many. The organization helps turn research ideas into viable businesses. Some already are outgrowing the CRC. Aeroprobe Corp., an engineering company that designs and builds instruments used in the aerospace industry, outgrew its space and last year began expanding to a $2 million facility in Falling Branch Corporate Park in Christiansburg, adding 40 employees. That’s a hopeful example of more to come, Maggard says. Atop PKs, a longtime town sports bar, are groups of fledgling techies tapping away on the latest attempt at the next big app. TechPad, a 6,000-square-foot coworking space, opened in 2011 as a shared workspace for entrepreneurs with no other place to work on their startup. It has five current member companies but boasts connections to nearly 30 others. Current member companies such as FitNet, a video fitness trainer app, are enjoying success. “We’ve had a lot of wins and seen a lot of companies have fantastic success,” Maggard says. Whether it’s bringing in families, trying to snag that bright
20-something or helping an established company to grow, the council has a plan to sell the region and the town. Everyone is on the same page, says Maggard, promoting some of Blacksburg’s key assets – short commute, outdoor adventure and people who care. “My perspective on Blacksburg is that while it is small – and for those from bigger cities that can be daunting – it offers so much,” says Parker. Cultural events and outdoor adventures top the list of attractions. “There is hardly a better place for outdoor pursuits, whether you simply want to walk along a pretty byway or do more hardcore activities such as white-water kayaking, mountain biking or rock climbing,” Parker says. “There are cultural opportunities from Appalachian storytelling to symphony concerts, festivals and museum exhibits.” Virginia Tech’s new Moss Arts Center joins the smaller Lyric Theatre downtown and is bringing in big-name acts. The Phillip Glass Ensemble opened the Moss Center’s inaugural season. While patrons of downtown Blacksburg merchants have long supported Downtown Blacksburg Inc.’s “BUY EAT LIVE local” campaign, the hope is professionals coming to town share that attitude and enjoy being able to follow that mantra – without the hassles of big cities. “What we have going for us is the people who have those talents, they want to live in a place with a very high quality of life,” Maggard says. That means engaging young professionals and young families alike. A new group has opened a second farmers market. The established downtown farmers market, with a new park, also offers a weekly jam session. Two summer festivals – the Summer Solstice Fest and Steppin’ Out – showcase the local art and music scenes. And live music
venues promote local and regional musicians. A series of evening meet-ups and networking events such as “Up On the Roof,” a monthly mixer on top of Kent Square, are designed to help young professionals mingle. For those with children, the town’s selection of public and private schools is a draw. Five elementary schools, a middle school and high school all are fully accredited through Virginia’s Standards of Learning. Blacksburg calls itself “A Special Place” and markets itself as appealing to 20-something techies, outdoor lovers and young families. “It’s a true community,” says Maggard, who relocated his family to the area in 2012 when he became executive director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council. “Everyone gets to know everyone. There’s a ‘we want you to be involved’ atmosphere. People like that.”
Up On The Roof is a professionals’ mixer held the last Thursday of the month, April through September, on top of the Kent Square parking garage.
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INTERVIEW | Diane Flynt, owner, Foggy Ridge Cidery
Old craft, modern science, premium cider Diane Flynt wants people to know that not every cider is sweet fi zzy stuff that’s bottled like beer.
by Tim Thornton
banker turned cider-maker, Diane Flynt says cider is the fastest growing segment of the alcohol market in the United States. Yet even after growing 60 percent last year, hard cider still accounts for less than 2 percent of the alcohol sold in this country. It’s a niche market, and Flynt’s company holds a niche within that niche.
Three companies sold 90 percent of that hard cider – and what they sell doesn’t have much in common with what Flynt bottles at her Dugspur orchard and cidery. The ciders are even packaged differently, coming in beerstyle, six-packs instead of the wine-style bottles used at Flynt’s Foggy Ridge. In both cases, the packaging choice is driven by marketing and practicality.
“Those companies – Crispin and Woodchuck and Angry Orchard – they’re all owned by beer companies, and beer companies have beer bottling lines and beer bottles. … They’re not trying to convert someone from drinking wine to drinking cider. They’re trying to get their beer drinkers – who are now drinking craft beer or more wine or spirits – back into their product line,” Flynt says. “We’re marketing our cider to people who want to drink a premium cider.” The conflicting styles create confusion. “Consumers still think of cider as one thing,” Flynt says. “It’s not this sweet fizzy stuff that comes in a beer bottle. You can have a bone dry cider with no carbonation at all. You can have really, really sweet desert cider or ice cider, and you’ve got everything in the middle.” If the sweet fizzy stuff in beer bottles is filling most of the niche, Flynt and her compatriots are filling an even smaller space. “Those of us in the cider industry who are making cider like a winemaker makes fine wine, we’re the alcove within the niche,” she says. “So we’re approaching this beverage like a farmer or like a vintner.” Foggy Ridge has about 20 acres of trees; the first of which were planted in 1997, but Foggy Ridge buys most of the apples for its cider from three other farms. Those apples include heirloom varieties such as Roxbury Russet, which Flynt says was the first named American apple; Harrison, a Colonial-era cider apple; and Virginia Hughes Crab, which Thomas Jefferson grew at Monticello and turned into a sparkling cider. There also are English varieties, including Dabinette and Trimlett’s Bitter and a French variety called Muscadet de Berney that’s so tannin it’s called a spitter. “If it’s got a lot of acid and tannin,” Flynt says, “it’s probably not going to taste that great.” But apples that don’t taste that great when a person Photo courtesy Foggy Ridge
bites into them can make good cider with complex flavors. The cidery’s website says some Foggy Ridge ciders have “beautiful soft tannins with light pear notes” and “butterscotch and caramel notes combine with rich apple flavor.” “It’s not a self-important, special occasion beverage,” Flynt says. “It’s an everyday beverage. “People say, ‘What do you eat with cider?’ Well, whatever you have in the refrigerator. You shouldn’t think too much about that, but, of course, chefs love to think too much about things like that and have educated me that there are some wonderful pairings that really make the cider and the food shine the brightest.” Foggy Ridge sold its first cider in 2005 and will make about 5,200 cases of six different ciders this year. It’s distributed in nine states, stretching from Georgia to Delaware, and Flynt aims to add Louisiana to the list this year. Florida is in the company’s sights after that. Foggy Ridge is available around Virginia, including at the cidery itself. “I’d like people to know,” Flynt says, “we’re a place where they can learn more about apples, cider and food and growing fruit trees.” Roanoke Business: How do you know which apples to blend, how to blend them and how long to age the cider? Diane Flynt: We’re still learning a lot about that. Some people say cider is where wine was five years ago. Cider may be where wine was 100 years ago. We have so much to learn. We have very detailed notes back from 2005 and really before that because when I was putting Foggy Ridge together I was making cider as a home cidermaker and doing lots of experiments. … While there is trial and error every year, you do have some history. You do know where you’re headed. It’s really tasting. That’s what it’s all about. It’s what winemakers do. It’s what we do. We sit around and taste … lots of blends. You taste and test each tank, and you compare it to your notes from last year. We have binders and binders
of tasting notes that we really do refer to. RB: Virginia wineries get a lot of attention, but the commonwealth’s cider-makers aren’t as well known. Do you ever feel overshadowed by the wine industry? Flynt: We play well together. We really do. Cider is actually classified as a wine … We are a farm winery just like Villa Appalaccia or Amrhein or whatever. As far as working together, I think the Virginia wine industry has been fairly welcoming. I’m on the Virginia wine board, which is the governor-appointed board that distributes funds to the industry. We do a lot of things in common. We diverge at some points. The audience of cider is a younger audience. They are the future drinkers. The millennials, research has shown, drink more widely, drink wine, beer, spirits, cocktails. In a way, we’re almost more advanced than the wine industry in speaking to the market, perhaps because we’ve had to be. Our drinkers have taken us there. RB: There was a time long ago, when cider was much more common. Flynt: Cider was a commonly consumed beverage. People talk about how it was consumed more than water in Colonial America, which to me is damning with faint praise because the water was not that great. It was a farm beverage. Everybody had an orchard. You had a press, or your town had a press. You would press your fruit, and you put it in casks and that is what you drank. I get so tired of hearing that story of how cider was the great Colonial drink, and Samuel Adams drank a tankard a day. Well, he couldn’t get anything else. Probably what they drank wasn’t that great … I’m sure there was some lovely cider made in a very authentic way, but also some pretty awful stuff as well. I think what’s exciting about what we’re doing here and what a lot of other modern cider-makers are doing is we’re using many of the same apples. We’re go-
ing back to what was good about cider in Colonial times … We’re using traditional fruit and highly flavored fruit, not to the exclusion of using modern fruit that might be great cider-makers. I’m looking for good cider apples, period. I don’t care if they were created last week or 2,000 years ago. But we’re using science to make a beverage that is delicious. Every tank is delicious; it’s not a crapshoot. RB: Tell us why putting things in the ground that are going to outlast you is important to you. Flynt: I like growing something that will last. I value all kinds of farming. I grow a vegetable garden. I frequent famers markets. I see the appeal of growing annuals and presenting your lettuce to the public or your beautiful tomatoes, but it’s just more appealing to me to put something in the ground that is going to stay there and to watch it develop over time. To have planted most of these trees, to have put them in the ground and then to watch them and work with them – I learn something every year from my trees. RB: Foggy Ridge has been written about in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, Esquire, Wine Enthusiast, Bon Appetit and Garden & Gun. How do you get all that good press? Flynt: And Martha Stewart Living and Penthouse in the same month. The column was called “Life on Top.” That was one of my proudest moments. We have a great story. I really think that’s it. We have a great story. All these places want great stories. They want something authentic. Everybody’s pretending to be authentic, and if you say you’re authentic you’re probably not. And I think they see that we are. I don’t market Foggy Ridge on a nostalgia beat. There are some cider-makers who play the Colonial America and history of apples and grandfather made cider in the backyard. I’m very proud of using science and making a very clean and wonderful tasting beverage that has a real yum factor. I don’t want people to have to learn to like my cider. ROANOKE BUSINESS
SPONSORED CONTENT | Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce
The 2014 Leadership Roanoke Valley graduating class held graduation ceremonies at Roanoke College on June 4.
31st class of Leadership Roanoke Valley graduates The Roanoke Regional Chamber’s Leadership Roanoke Valley held graduation ceremonies for the 31st class June 4 at Roanoke College in Salem. Thirty-one participants graduated from the nine-month leadership training program. The graduates and their sponsors are: Philip Clements, The Advancement Foundation; Holley Conner, Trane; Debbie Creasy, Cox; Megan Cronise, Roanoke County Department of Community Development; Erin M. Dudley, Norfolk Southern; Michael Finney, Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore; Frank Giannini, Member One Federal Credit
Union; Dexter C. Glass Jr., SunTrust Bank; Marie Greer, Orvis; Scott Gunn, Doctors Express; Price Gutshall, Downtown Roanoke Inc.; Amber Hardman, Trane; Mike Hill, Sunapsys; Seth Hillis, McLeod Enterprises; Curtis R. Jennings III, SFCS; Cathy P. Johnson, Member One Federal Credit Union; Jessie Lacks, Cox; Francis Longaker, American National University; Jillian Papa Moore, City of Roanoke; Carissa Mulahn, MB Contractors; Melissa T. Newman, Blue Ridge Catering; Camese Noel, Allstate Insurance; Laurel Odham, ADP; Christine Phillips, Trane; Brett Queen, Chandler Concrete
2014 CHAMBER CHAMPIONS BB&T Brown Edwards Cox Business Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore LeClairRyan LifeWorks REHAB (Medical Facilities of America) MB Contractors
Pepsi Bottling Group rev.net Richfield Retirement Community Spilman Thomas & Battle, PLLC Trane Valley Bank Woods Rogers Attorneys at Law
Note: Chamber Champions are members who suppor t the Roanoke Regional Chamber through year-round sponsorships in exchange for year-round recognition.
Company of Va.; Jacqueline E. Rearick, Virginia Western Community College; Henry Schaefer, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals; S. Clay Taylor, Waldvogel Commercial Properties; John W. Thieberger, Boy Scouts of America, Blue Ridge Mountains Council; Sonya Weatherford, Norfolk Southern; and Adam Workman, First Citizens Bank. The graduates are now eligible to join Leadership Forward, the Leadership Roanoke Valley alumni association, which continues the engagement of graduates in the community and supports their integration into positions of leadership in the region.
NEW MEMBERS The following businesses joined the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce from May 9 through June 11, 2014: The Athenaeum Co-Working Center Blue 5 Café Asia 2 Cobb Technologies Mac and Bob’s Private Investigations by Jeff Spar Roanoke Printing Co. Inc. Secure Innovations Inc.
Photo by Jim Markey Photography
Member news & recognitions The Alzheimer’s Association Central and Western Virginia chapter has won the Commonwealth Council on Aging’s Top 2014 Best Practices $2,000 third-place award for its Arts Fusion program. Arts Fusion provides a creative environment that promotes expression, interpersonal connections and enjoyment for individuals with dementia. The approach integrates or “fuses” a variety of art forms to serve participants in all stages of dementia.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate has announced that Penny Blue, Margaret Craye and Cindy Robertson have joined their sales team. Carilion Clinic added a Department of Orthopaedics to its organizational structure on June 1, the first new department added since the inception of Carilion Clinic. The section of orthopedics was a part of Carilion’s Department of Surgery. Carilion Clinic Orthopaedics was formed in 2010, with the merger of Carilion Clinic Orthopaedic Bone and Joint and Roanoke Orthopaedic Center. The new department has 32 physicians and 16 advancedcare professionals, the largest orthopedic group in Virginia. Services provided include hand, total joints, sports medicine, foot and ankle, pediatrics, trauma, spine and general orthopedics. The Virginia Orthopaedic Society presented Dr. Joseph Moskal, chief of orthopedic surgery at Carilion Clinic, with the Virginia Orthopaedic Society Lifetime Career Award at its annual meeting. The Moskal award is granted to an individual who has made a major impact on the practice of orthopedic surgery in Virginia. The award also recognizes Moskal’s career of service to his patients and support of orthopedic surgeons throughout the state. The Western Virginia Foundation for the Arts and Sciences has announced that Barry L. Henderson, president and general manager of Center in the Square, has stepped down. In connection with the tranSears sition, James C. Sears, who has been serving as a consultant for the center, has resumed his previous role as president and general manager. The F.R.E.E. Foundation Equipment Reuse/Recycling and Gifting Program of Roanoke won the Commonwealth Council on Aging’s top 2014
“Best Practices” award for its creative and effective approach to serving older Virginians. This year’s first-place award of $5,000 honors the foundation’s efforts to help Virginians achieve independence through mobility when they have no other way to attain their independence. The board of directors of HomeTown Bankshares Corp. announced the election of George B. Cartledge Jr., chairman and CEO of Grand Home Furnishings, as the chairman of the board of Cartledge directors of the boards of HomeTown Bankshares and HomeTown Bank. He had previously served as vice chairman on the HomeTown Bankshares board. He replaces William R. Rakes who has retired as chairman of the bank and holding company boards but will continue to serve on both boards. Kimberly A. Whiter, assistant professor in the Jefferson College of Health Sciences Medical Laboratory Sciences program, has been named one of the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s (ASCP) Whiter “40 Under 40” for her achievements in the medical laboratory field. The program recognizes 40 pathologists, pathology residents and laboratory professionals under age 40 who have made significant contributions to the profession and stand out as the future of laboratory leadership. LeClairRyan has been recognized as a top pro bono contributor by Blue Ridge Legal Services. LeClairRyan and three other firms were recognized at a recent meeting of the Roanoke Bar Association. Blue Ridge Legal Services is a nonprofit legal aid society providing free legal assistance in civil matters of critical importance to low-income residents of the Shenandoah and Roanoke valleys. LeClairRyan annually contributes nearly 4,000 hours of pro bono service a year in all of its offices. Richard “Bryan” Holbrook has joined LeClairRyan as an associate in the firm’s litigation department. He will be resident in the national law firm’s Roanoke office. His practice focuses on medical malpractice defense, labor and employment matters, and commercial litigation. Chambers & Partners selected nine LeClairRyan attorneys for inclusion in the 2014 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Business Lawyers, including Clinton S. Morse, labor and emMorse ployment, in the national law firm’s Roanoke office. Also the corporate/mergers and acquisitions department in the Roanoke office was profiled in the annual survey. Lendmark Financial Services opened a new
branch location in Roanoke in May. The branch is at 4760 Valley View Blvd. Lendmark’s financial services include personal loans, automobile loans, debt consolidation loans, and merchant retail sales financing services. Jared L. Schweitzer with Miller, Long & Associates has earned his MAI designation awarded by the Appraisal Institute. Schweitzer
Neathawk Dubuque & Packett (ND&P) won six awards at the recent Virginia Public Relations Awards, a statewide competition sponsored by the Richmond chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. ND&P won a Capital Award of Excellence for a webinar produced by CMR Institute that resulted in the highest level of participation ever for a webinar produced by the institute, provider of health-care training programs. The firm won three other Capital Awards of Merit for outstanding public relations tactics. The agency won an award in the category of press conference for the launch of The Bridges, a mixed-use, multiyear development in Roanoke. ND&P won in the media relations category for its role in the 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition held at Loma Linda University. Mountain Lake Lodge was honored in the social media category. ND&P was honored with two Commonwealth Awards of Merit for the successful re-launch of Mountain Lake Lodge and for the agency’s own wellness program called Nudge. RIDE Solutions has announced the winners of its 6th Annual Bike Hero and Extraordinary Bike Professional awards. Thomas Hash of Pulaski is the 2014 Bike Hero, recognized for his work building a bicycle culture in Pulaski County, his volunteerism supporting trail building and ride organization and for making the Draper Mercantile a hub of bike activity for the New River Valley. Davy Hazlegrove of Lynchburg was named the 2014 Extraordinary Bike Professional for the support his Blackwater Bike Shop offers the cycling community in Lynchburg. More than 700 leaders and innovators recently attended the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council’s (RBTC) 15th annual TechNite awards banquet. The Rising Star award was presented to Mindsense by Craig Meadows, Montgomery County administrator. Bob Summers received the Innovator award. The Entrepreneur award was presented to Michael Rihani, co-founder and CEO of Koofers. Two local educators – Brian Dye of Radford City Schools and Sarah Gerrol of Salem City Schools – received the Educator award. John “Jack” Lesko received the Regional Leader award. The RUBY award was presented to Ken Ferris. The organization’s People’s Choice award went to VirtualU. Ray Pethtel and Tracy Wilkins ROANOKE BUSINESS
SPONSORED CONTENT | Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce were both inducted into the RBTC Technology Hall of Fame. Tom Tanner, professional business counselor for the Roanoke Regional Small Business Development Center, has been selected as the Virginia SBDC Network’s State Star for 2014. This annual award, Tanner conferred by the National Association of SBDCs, recognizes an exemplary performer who makes significant contributions to their SBDC network and who demonstrates a strong commitment to small businesses. Tanner has been with the Roanoke Regional SBDC since 2007. Julia Boas has joined Roanoke Outside as events manager. She will handle logistics and planning for brand building events such as the Blue Ridge Marathon, Radical Reels Film Festival and GO Outside Boas Festival. She comes to the Roanoke Regional Partnership from Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina. The law firm Spilman Thomas & Battle recently announced that King F. Tower has been recognized in the 2014 Chambers USA annual directory of leading law firms and attorneys. Tower was Tower recognized as a leading lawyer for his work in labor and employment law.
Virginia Prosthetics & Orthotics, based in Roanoke and Virginia’s oldest and largest orthotic and prosthetic company, recently hired three new practitioners to treat patients. Bill Earles, Indi Hewavita and Ben Sigmon will see patients at several of the company’s offices and clinics located throughout southwest and central Virginia. All three practitioners have been certified by the American Board for Certification in Orthotics and Prosthetics. Virginia Prosthetics, a Roanoke-based leading provider of custom-fit and fabricated orthotic and prosthetic devices, recently changed its name to Virginia Prosthetics & Orthotics Inc. The company made the name change to better reflect the services it provides and the growing role that orthotics play in providing patients with solutions. The end of the spring semester means the beginning of construction and renovation season for the Virginia Tech campus. Work continues on several ongoing projects, and construction on several 36
new projects will begin. Construction projects on campus this summer include: Davidson Hall addition; indoor athletic practice facility; Kentland Farm; Pritchard Hall; Signature Engineering Building; and Corps of Cadets Residence Hall. Robert Canfield, professor and assistant department head for academic affairs of Virginia Tech’s Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, will receive the American Institute of Aeronautics Canfield and Astronautics Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Award for 2014. The biennial award was established in 1993 and presented to an individual for outstanding contributions to the development and/or application of techniques of multidisciplinary design optimization in the context of aerospace engineering. Kimberly Dulaney, assistant director of procurement and contracts manager at Virginia Tech, received the Professional Perspective Award from the National Association of Educational ProDulaney curement at its annual meeting. Dulaney received the award in recognition of her article “Facts and Advice about Tackling the E-Procurement Challenge,” published in the Educational Procurement Journal. Virginia Tech’s WVTF/RADIO IQ has claimed four awards recognizing excellence in journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association. Harris The stations received a national Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism from the Society of Professional Journalists for the feature report, “Wild Goose Church.” Reporter Robbie Harris Hausman visited Floyd to hear the story of worshippers who tell of trading pews for rocking chairs, organs for fiddles, and yawns for songs, creating a dynamic, grass-roots celebration of faith, bluegrass and potluck. WVTF/ RADIO IQ also won three first place awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association’s 2014 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards program. Sandy Hausman won third place in audio investigative reporting for her “Jens Soering” story and another third place award for writing for radio, compilation montage category. Harris won a third place with her “Wild Goose Church” story for audio feature reporting.
Golde Holtzman, associate professor of statistics in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of “associate professor emeritus” by the Virginia Tech board of visitors. A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1980, Holtzman
made significant contributions to the understanding of statistics through his research in biomathematics and environmental statistics. Ronald B. Kemnitzer, professor of industrial design in the School of Architecture + Design in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of “proKemnitzer fessor emeritus” by the Virginia Tech board of visitors. He has been a member of the Virginia Tech community since 2004. He was selected three times as one of Design Intelligence’s 30 “most admired” design educators in the United States. Kristofer D. Kusano, a postdoctoral associate in biomedical engineering at Virginia Tech, has received the Society of Automotive Engineers International’s Russell S. Springer Award. Kusano Kusano works in the university’s Center for Injury Biomechanics. His research focuses on the study of driver behavior to design better crash avoidance systems and predicting expected benefits of active safety systems in vehicle fleets. He won the award for his paper “Field Relevance of the New Car Assessment Program Lane Department Warning Confirmation Test.” The Springer award recognizes the author of an original and outstanding technical paper printed in Society of Automotive Engineers International literature. Mary Marchant, professor of agricultural and applied economics in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern AgriculMarchant tural Economics Association, the organization’s highest honor, for her commitment to scholarship in teaching and applied research. Virginia Western Community College and Goodwill Industries of the Valleys recently hosted an open house to showcase the Community College/ Career Collaboration (C4) and the facilities and training available to the community. Launched nationally in 2009, the C4 initiative’s purpose is to increase college and career success for low-income adults and underserved populations through documenting, promoting and replicating these models throughout the Goodwill and community college networks. Virginia Western received funding through Virginia’s Community Colleges and State Council of Higher Education of Virginia to provide equipment for a new Industrial Maintenance/Manufacturing Production Lab at Goodwill that allows the college to serve 12 students per semester cohort.
GET FOR LESS Technology is hard wired into Virginia Western education. For three years in a row, Virginia Western Community College has been named #1 or #2 in the top 10 digital community colleges in the nation by the Center for Digital Education. That’s one of the reasons Virginia Western Community College is enjoying a growing reputation for hands-on training in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and healthcare (STEM+H). Students get the skills and knowledge that will take them where they want to go, whether it’s upgrading a current job, transferring to a four-year program or transitioning careers with conﬁdence. Looking for an affordable education with a future?
Virginia Western will take you there.
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Carilion Clinic Occupational Medicine Carilion Roanoke Community Hospital 101 Elm Ave., Roanoke, VA 24013 Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Select after-hours and weekend services are available at all ﬁve VelocityCare locations with no appointments needed.
540-985-8521 | CarilionClinic.org/occmed
Vintage Capitalism: Each winery blends its own formula for success.