Oct 29, 2020ZAFA Wines will centralize, grow with help from Vermont Land Trust
ZAFA Wines owner Krista Scruggs has secured her first farm with help from the Vermont Land Trust and the Michael Colbert Farmland Fund. The 56-acre farm in Isle La Motte was purchased by the Land Trust, which will lease the land back to Scruggs for 3-5 years until she is able to purchase it.
“Access to affordable farmland continues to be one of the biggest barriers for beginning farmers who want to start and grow a business,” said Nick Richardson, President & CEO of the Vermont Land Trust. “Over the past year, we have raised $15 million to help farmers, just like Krista.”
Krista Scruggs spent years foraging wild apples and driving long distances between leased vineyard plots to make ZAFA’s celebrated natural wines and cider blends. Now, she will build out the next phase of her business in Isle La Motte.
“I have seven people on payroll now. The goal was everything in one place. It’s amazing to do it all from here as the business grows,” said Scruggs from the new farm.
Scruggs has garnered national attention for her use of hybrid grapes and foraged apples. She was most drawn to the Isle La Motte property for its open fields, the lake’s warming effect on the land, and its mineral-rich soil.
When she learned the property was available, she began exploring funding options and connected with the Vermont Land Trust that is aiming to put 200 new farmers on the land over the next decade through its Farmland Futures Fund.
Since July, Scruggs has planted 2,000 vines and christened the west plot Sturgeon Vineyard. While the vintage won’t be ready until 2023, her team has been busy harvesting wild apples and pears for ciders and blends.
Scruggs is also converting the property’s farmhouse to a winery and tasting room. She envisions a guest experience infused with education and connection to the land. She will grow food, install hothouses, tap maple trees, and raise livestock. Like her unfiltered, unfettered wines, everything will come from the land or the neighboring community. She wants to show visitors that terroir means more than climate and soil.
“I thought I knew what terroir meant, but I had it all wrong,” said Scruggs. “Of course it’s the soil, but it wouldn’t work without the people. The community here showed up for us. Neighbors lent a hand. That is terroir.”
ZAFA Wines owner Krista Scruggs. Photo: Caleb Kenna