Constant Government Support Drives Brewery Success

By Katherine Hensley

Stable Craft Brewing has enjoyed the support of federal, state and local government funds since its very beginning.

Craig and Nikki Nargi, Stable Craft Brewing’s owners, built a reputable wedding venue, Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables, after purchasing their property in Hermitage, Va. in 2006. The property was originally a Tennessee Walking Horse facility, but, after extensive renovations, the Nargis turned it into a four-season venue capable of accommodating up to 200 guests for both ceremonies and receptions.

The barn and lookout tower at Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables. The venue is available year-round. Photo by Katherine Hensley.

Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables, which officially opened its doors to wedding clientele in 2008, proved to be so successful that the couple decided to expand their offerings to a second business, Stable Craft Brewing, that includes a hop farm and brewery.

Craig Nargi began growing hops in 2011, and, to supplement his operation, applied for a United States Department of Agriculture Value-Added Producer Grant, or VAPG, in 2014, which he was awarded. The USDA VAPG program, “helps agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of new products,” according to the USDA.

The terms of the grant were that USDA would match spent funds up to $250,000, and the funds had to be spent, “for planning activities or for working capital expenses related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product,” according to the USDA.

“You had to show you had the means first,” Craig Nargi said. “The matching grant was only for labor, ingredients and inputs to make beer.”

It could also be applied to energy consumption and the brewer’s time, but it was specifically for expenses related to the beer making process, he explained.

The federal grant did not match expenses related to the construction of new buildings or the salaries of the agricultural employees who helped to grow the hops, Craig Nargi said.

With the assistance of the federal funds, he was able to use the profits to grow the business. The next major step for the Nargis in growing their successful businesses was opening Stable Craft Brewing up to even more clientele via a top-of-the-line tasting room.

The tasting room officially opened in May 2016 and has been an economical benefit to the Augusta County community ever since. The agri-pub menu includes items, such as burgers, sandwiches and skillet plates, that are prepared with fresh, local ingredients.

In the spirit of contributing to the local economy and farmers, the Nargis established a business relationship with McNett Angus Beef of Grottoes, Va. McNett Angus Beef supplies the tasting room with the farm’s all natural beef for the burgers while Stable Craft Brewing supplies McNett Angus Beef with the spent grain from the brewery to feed the farm’s cattle.

The brewery, along with the tasting room, will continue to build relationships with local proprietors not only because of Stable Craft Brewing’s business model, but also because of a second grant the owners received.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe formally announced at the brewery that the Nargis had been awarded a $15,000 Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development, or AFID, facility grant in September 2017. This a state grant that Augusta County matched with an additional $15,000 of local funds.

The terms of the AFID grant are that, “a minimum of 30% of the agricultural or forestry products to which the facility is adding value are produced within the Commonwealth of Virginia on an annual basis in normal production years,” according to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The AFID grant and county funds are a portion of an even larger $500,000 brewery expansion that will create 13 new jobs. The expansion includes the purchasing of new equipment, such as a bottling line and additional fermentation vessels, as well as a new warehouse.

The new warehouse was constructed in fall of 2017.

The warehouse will have a barrel-aging room with the capacity to hold 250 53-gallon wooden kegs, an exclusive tasting room and room for storage.

The popularity of the company in the Augusta Community has motivated much of the support the brewery has received up to this point.

Craig and Nikki Nargi work around-the-clock to constantly improve both of their businesses and appreciate the support the federal, state and local governments have granted them over the years that help to make their visions successful.