Farm brewery planned for Zuni

Published 7:21 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

Beer enthusiasts who frequented Smithfield’s Wharf Hill Brewing Co. during its early days may have already encountered some of Greg Bullis’ creations.

The former Marine designed and built Wharf Hill’s brewing equipment when the brewpub opened in 2014, and served as the pub’s brewer for its first year and a half in business.

Now, he’s on to his latest venture in the village of Zuni, where he hopes to soon open his own farm brewery on a 5-acre parcel he and his wife, Christine Kampe Bullis, purchased along Route 460. Farm breweries must grow at least one ingredient – wheat or hops – used in their products.

The couple has already established an ostrich farm on the site and dug footers for a planned 3,600-square-foot brewery that will offer 16 beers on tap. They also plan to purchase and outfit a food truck that will sell ostrich burgers and jerky.

“I was looking for something that would eat the spent grain out of the brewery,” Greg Bullis said.

In South Africa, he noted, farmers have been raising ostriches for hundreds of years.

“It’s a really high-quality red meat,” said Bullis, noting ostrich meat typically retails for at least $30 per pound in the United States.

The birds, he added, produce roughly one-third the amount of greenhouse gases as cattle. One of his core objectives, Bullis said, is to have the lowest environmental impact as possible. He plans to build a grain dryer that will run entirely on solar power.

“With everybody looking to try to be as green as possible … some of it just makes sense,” Bullis said. “It will cost more up front to do it, but over the long run you’ll make your money back.”

Bullis entered the world of brewing roughly 20 years ago while attending Smithfield’s Bon Vivant Wine & Brew beer club.

“I started on my stove like everyone else does, doing a 2-gallon boil,” Bullis said.

Earlier this year, Kampe Bullis Farm Brewery LLC applied for a Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority license to manufacture and sell beer at the site. Most of the beers the couple intends to offer will be at least 7% alcohol by volume.

That’s the only remaining approval they’ll need to start construction. According to Isle of Wight County’s director of community development, Amy Ring, the couple has already received a simplified site plan approval from the county, having qualified their proposal as an agritourism use.