In Good Spirits
- By Roslyn Ryan / Editor Goochland Gazette
As a general rule, the owners of Goochland’s new Hill Top Distillery don’t often find themselves backing down from a challenge. It’s why they decided to pursue the project just over three years ago, and why they kept on looking until they found the perfect location, a 7-acre property off Maidens Rd.
It’s why they moved over 100 tons of rock by hand and did much of the work on the new distillery and tasting room themselves.
It’s also why, despite having their tasting room essentially shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic just two weeks after they opened, they have no intention of giving up anytime soon.
The statewide lockdown has had some impact, admitted Sherry Brockenbrough, who owns the distillery with her husband John, a retired educator, and son, also named John, a separated Marine. But they are still welcoming customers and winning over new fans every day.
The distillery itself, which enjoys a sweeping view of the James River and Tucker Park, is currently offering a selection of spirits including maple flavored whiskey and Virginia single malt, as well as the wildly popular Blackberry Gooch Hooch Moonshine, named in honor of the county Brockenbrough said has welcomed them with open arms.
As much as the family has enjoyed seeing their dream come to life, Brockenbrough said it has been just as rewarding to realize what a special place they have chosen to build it.
“Maidens is just like a little bit of Heaven,” she said. “It’s just a different world out here, and you won’t find people anywhere like you find in Goochland. The people are just so genuinely nice, and everybody wants to see everyone succeed and do well.”
One resident, George Smith, has already become like a member of the family, Brockenbrough said, and many others have stepped in to help in whatever way they can.
The state, it seems, is also trying to lend a hand: in light of the impact caused by the shuttering of tasting rooms across the Commonwealth, Virginia’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board is allowing distilleries to ship spirits directly to customers, and also to deliver products to those waiting in vehicles parked on the property.
The changes make a difference, said Brockenbrough, and she and her family are committed to staying in Goochland regardless of what obstacles they face.
“It’s unfortunate,” she said of the shutdown, “but is it killing us? No. And we’re not going to let it.”
Orginal article - https://www.richmond.com/news/local/central-virginia/goochland/goochland-gazette/in-good-spirits/article_91933940-89a5-11ea-bfd4-4728113d9ed3.html