Wine importer gets OK to move to Elkton

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ELKTON — A Page County business that imports artisanal wines from France and Italy and sells them to highend American restaurants has the go- ahead to move into town.

Elkton’s Town Council voted unanimously Monday to accept a recommendation from Planning Commission members that Palladion Signature Import be allowed to operate a wine importation, warehousing and distribution center at 102 N. Fifth St.

The action was taken following a joint public hearing at the Elkton Area Community Center.

Council members Steve America, Harry Armbruster, Jay Dean, Joshua Gooden, Margaretta Isom and Jeff Jones voted to approve the special exception permit.

The recommendation to approve the request was made by commission members Isom, Roy Davis, Dorenda Flick, Cole McGregor and Robert Morris.

The votes were taken after no one spoke for or against the request during the public hearing, with business owner Billy Starkey answering questions from the panels.

Starkey told the council and commission members that the business has outgrown the space he’s using outside Luray, and the North Fifth Street building is ideal.

“I just want to find the right location for this endeavor,” he said.

Starkey said he’s a U.S. Air Force veteran who “got burned out” working in national security after he left the service.

A friend put him in touch with some overseas families looking to sell their handcrafted wines outside their native countries for the first time.

The business is licensed by the state and federal governments, he said.

The Elkton building, Starkey said, will receive one to two truckloads of wine a month and dispatch the same number, with all activity taking place between 10 a. m. and 6 p. m. Wine will not be sold on site.

His current customer base, he said, is comprised mostly of top rated restaurants in San Francisco and Las Vegas. His lone Virginia client is The Inn at Little Washington, a Rappahannock County inn and restaurant known nationally and internationally for its cuisine.

Starkey, who lives in Page County, said following the meeting that the Elkton building provides him 6,000 square feet of space, double the amount of his current location.

The wines are shipped through Norfolk International Terminals and trucked to the Shenandoah Valley.

He plans to make a push to sell into more restaurants in Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area this year, with Atlanta and Miami next targets.

Town Council approved the permit after Wayne Printz, Elkton’s mayor and acting town manager, contacted Town Attorney Nathan Miller to make sure the panel could approve it that night.

The council traditionally has taken up Planning Commission recommendations at its following meeting, but Miller said nothing prevented it from acting any time after the public hearing.

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