And there is a lot of wine to love! Virginia continues to build its reputation in the wine world, with its Old-World Style Reds, Virginia Viognier and Cabernet Francs helping put it on the map. With over 190 wineries across the state, Virginia is 5th in wine production in the United States.
I’ve lived away from the lovely state of Virginia (my original home state) for over seven years. From afar I knew their wine industry was growing and receiving accolades. Now back in Virginia, I’ve tried several wines either out at restaurants by the glass or buying a bottle here and there, usually the ones I know are good and have tried like Barboursville Vineyards and King Family Vineyards.
There in lies one of the key problems for the Virginia wine industry… trial! People are still hesitant about the wine quality, even in their home state, so tend not to pick up a bottle or try a glass when it is available. They stick with what they know like California, France and Italy.
Last weekend I went to the annualÂ Virginia Wine Expo in Richmond, a three day event featuring 350+ wines from 60+ Virginia wineries. And I can definitively tell you, there are great wines in Virginia!!Â I was at the Expo only Saturday (next year I’ll plan more time) so had to prioritize my samplings but I hit 15 wineries and sampled 88 wines. It was a fantastic opportunity to experiment and get to know Virginia wine. Now I can say, I’m a true fan!
Virginia wine dates back four centuries to the original English settlers of Jamestown in 1607… they were required to grow 10 grapevines each of European origin but diseased vines prevented anything from coming of it. Thomas Jefferson, with the help of his Italian viticulturistÂ Filippo Mazzei, tried for over 30 years to grow vines at Monticello but again disease kept any wine from ever being produced. The mid-1800s showed promise when the Virginia Norton wine, made from Native American grapes, was named “best red wine of all nations” at the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair and received a gold medal at the 1889 Paris World’s Fair. Unfortunately Prohibition in the early 20th-century stopped all wine production. But in the 1970s with six new wineries, Virginia’s wine comeback began. Watch this great video from Virginia Wine for more details and their site is a great resource on all things wine in Virginia.
Over the next few days I’ll share more on Virginia wine and some of my favorites from the Expo, ones you MUST try! And in the coming weeks and months, I’ll share my notes and findings as I work my way through more wines and visit wineries. I’ll do the leg work so you don’t have to. :)
Cheers to Virginia wine!!