Charlottesville Breaking News

Angels among us: How Charlottesville is becoming a hot spot for start-ups

By Peter Galuszka

Her three-month-old infant Benjamin strapped to her chest, Crystal Icenhour moves from room to room in a cream-colored building on a side street of downtown Charlottesville. “And that,” she says pointing to several trays of plastic-filled bags near a laboratory, “is our product.”

The small bags are sent via Federal Express to various medical laboratories, many at hospitals, from her firm named PHTHISIS Diagnostics, which is Greek for “tuberculosis.” After being mixed with water, their contents are used to measure molecular standards and provide quality control for highly sensitive diagnostic devices.

The seven-person firm offers a line of 15 such products since it began operations in 2006. The firm got started with $4.5 million in grants, many of them from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the state. Angel investors in the local area and North Carolina kicked in about $1 million.

After a lengthy incubation, PHTHISIS is finally showing results. So is Charlottesville as a haven for budding high technology centers. For years, the city has been a much-lauded, up-and-coming tech sector where bright minds come up with new ideas and win funding from angel investors or venture capitalists.

Charlottesville is suddenly starting to get national attention.

It has been ranked as No. 8 nationally, just behind Austin, Texas and ahead of Champaign-Urbana,...

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Catch Bubba: Something's 'fishy' about this wine

The Mountfair Vineyards Winery in Crozet  is known for the unusual names of its Bordeaux-style red wines which include "Intertwined," "Inaugural," and the linguistically daunting "Wooloomooloo." To get a taste of one of their newest wines, however, you’ll have to supply the fish.

Or rather, you’ll have to catch theirs.

The new wine, "Bubba," a mixture of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot grapes, is named after the hefty Largemouth Bass who has lived in the Vineyard’s pond for five years. This month, if you manage to catch him, three bottles of "Bubba" could be yours.

Mount Vineyard and the pond has been the property of co-founder Chris Yordy for the past 20 years. Yordy opened the winery five years ago after transforming the land from a horse farm. Bubba, however, seems to think he owns the place.

“He’s always been that elusive fish,” says Lizzy Kellinger, Mountfair general manager. “I try to catch him all the time.”

“No one is quite sure how big Bubba is,” she says.

Bubba’s namesake is the latest in a series of humorously named blends on the Vineyard’s wine list, which also includes such names as “Commitment,” “Jilted,” and “Blended Family.”

“The special release wines tend to have a unique name,” Kellinger explains. “We come up with them around the blending table. We were set to release 'Engagement' for the 2011 year, but we did not...

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Canine Adventures: A dog's best friend

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Pink heals— and looks mahvelous

Addison Kimble's dad is a firefighter and her great-grandmother has breast cancer, and the four-and-a-half-year-old checked out the pink options September 9 at the Omni, where a fleet of pink fire trucks were parked to raise awareness of women battling all cancers, not just breast cancer.

Former Arizona firefighter Dave Graybill created the Pink Heals Tour in 2007. He sold everything he owned to start a nonprofit that stresses the importance of women and of keeping money in the community where it's raised. "We're a nonprofit that won't take donations," he says. "We cut out the middleman. The money stays close to home."

The Charlottesville Fire Department sponsored the local stop. Pink Heals raises money for gas by selling t-shirts, and everything beyond that goes to a local organization, in this case, the UVA Cancer Center.

The pink fire trucks also make home visits. Graybill says he has 187 of them around the country, and if someone wants to write a check for $1 million, he promises, "I'll deliver it on a pink fire truck."

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Get Out! events, shows, things to do

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” ― Masanobu Fukuoka

On the Road Again for local farms

Country legend Willie Nelson is returning to the Charlottesville Pavilion, and this time he's standing up for Central Virginia farmers. His son's band, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, will be opening up for him to share his support for Local Food Hub.

Willie Nelson grew up on a farm in Texas working in the fields and tending to his family's crops, so he's been a longtime advocate for family-owned farms. He eventually went on to co-found Farm Aid in 1985 with fellow musicians John Mellencamp and Neil Young. In 2001, Dave Matthews joined the Farm Aid Board of Directors. Nelson continues to support farms in America today and raises funds to keep the land in the hands of the farmers.

The concert will help raise money for Local Food Hub and its mission, which is to improve small farm activity and increase access to local food. The Hub has programs that allow small Virginia farms to sell their locally grown produce and meat to large customers like public schools, hospitals, restaurants, and grocery stores. 

Nelson's show at the Pavilion should be a real treat for his fans this year, because he's not just showing us what he d...

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