Virginia is for drinkers – or so it seems with all the wineries, breweries and cideries that have opened here, and when you’re tired of those beverages, a company in Waynesboro is offering an award-winning alternative.
Nelson County native Ethan Zuckerman is a founding member of the Kombucha Brewers International:
“About five years ago 37 companies met in L.A.," he says. "This past year my wife went, and there were over 250, so it’s a growing industry.”
For those who don’t know, kombucha is a fermented tea – cold, carbonated, slightly sweet, tangy and sometimes alcoholic – often infused with fruit, herbs, and other flavors.
“One of our more popular flavors is the original ginger, which is a fresh-pressed ginger that we infuse into our green and black tea base," Zuckerman explains. "We also have a seasonal flavor right now, the kombuchai, which is a chai spiced kombucha, black raspberry, elder flower sunrise, a coffee version – the cold bucha – we have a variety of flavors.”
Blue Ridge Bucha, which recently opened its taproom on Route 250 east of downtown Waynesboro, supplies about 1,000 gallons a week to grocery stores, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and festivals. Customers are invited to return and refill their empty bottles.
“We’re close to now a million bottles saved by people bringing their bottles back in and not throwing them away,” says Zuckerman.
That earned the company a national sustainability award from SCORE – the mentoring arm of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Zuckerman says customers like to return and refill – it makes them feel good and provides a discount of 40 cents per bottle.