New Wine to Celebrate Virginia’s Wallops Island Spaceport

Launch complexes on Wallops Island, Virginia


The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority and Holly Grove Vineyards are pleased to announce  ‘Genesis’,  a new Virginia wine, with a very unique wine  label celebrating the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) and Virginia’s return to space.  Billie Reed, the Space Authority’s Executive Director will give ‘Genesis’ to his NASA hosts when he attends the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery in Florida, scheduled for November 1, 2010.

Jonathan Bess, the owner and vintner at Holly Grove Vineyards on Virginia’s Eastern Shore discussed this idea with Spaceport officials while attending a presentation by Bigelow Aerospace, another company investigating launching its rockets from MARS.

“I know Wallops is where our nation’s space program was started,” Bess said. “NASA Wallops and NASA Langley tested rockets and trained astronauts before Kennedy or Johnson Space Centers were created. I’m really excited about the Taurus II launches. This is going to have a positive impact here on the Shore and on our nation. I wanted to be a part of making history so I suggested a special wine label in celebration of America’s first space coast’s return to space!”

Jonathan is donating 10% of the proceeds from ‘Genesis’ to the scholarship fund at the Virginia Space Flight Academy, and is offering a challenge to other Virginia winemakers to develop a label celebrating Virginia’s return to space and to donate to the fund as well.  State Senator Ralph S. Northam (D – VA 6) praised the partnership, saying that “STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) is needed to understand and succeed in medicine, technology, agriculture, aerospace, human services delivery and yes, winemaking.  I am very enthusiastic about Jonathan’s initiative.”

Delegate Lewis (D – VA 100) also supports the initiative, saying: “The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, its growth and success is a priority of mine, as it is generating hundreds of new, high quality jobs, bringing economic growth to our Eastern Shore, and will play a role in the new space tourism industry. MARS is one of four spaceports holding an FAA license to send rockets into orbit. The FAA has said that Virginia is the “most progressive state in the nation” when it comes to incentivizing the commercial space industry.”

Bob Marshall the former Executive Director and now a Member of the Space Flight Academy Board of Directors said “we are very grateful to Holly Grove Vineyards. We want to thank Jonathan and his family for their support for the Space Flight Academy. This is a unique and fun way to support our scholarship fund. We do hope other vineyards will join in and help. The MARS staff has been intimately involved with the Academy since it began. We are partners in educating young people about the excitement of space exploration and aerospace.”