~From its wonderful climate to its rolling hills, Virginia is a special place for wine lovers.~
The Commonwealth of Virginia is widely known for all sorts of identities. It has been recognized as the birthplace of our nation, but also the main grounds of the bloody war waged to keep that nation intact. Virginia is known for its bustling northern metropolis, but also the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You find all kinds of people in Virginia too; from the small-town heartland and blue collar workers, to the D.C. urbanites and government folk. It is a beautiful, historically-rooted and dynamic place.
With all of the most prominent features of this state, it is pretty easy for one of its best kept secrets to be swept under the rug: its booming and dynamic wine industry.
Winemaking in Virginia has been documented as early as the Jamestown settlement in the early 1600’s, as settlers were often required to grow wine grapes to be exported back to England. Virginia also had another notable moment in its early winemaking history, as President Thomas Jefferson attempted to grow wine grapes of his own on his Monticello Estate, after being inspired by his time as a diplomat in Europe. While his vineyard never had a successful harvest due to disease, his attempt was incredibly consequential. The Charlottesville-centered Monticello wine region is regarded today as the premier winemaking region of Virginia.
Today’s Virginia wine scene really began to take shape in the 1970’s, and has subsequently boomed to over 250 wineries throughout the Commonwealth. In its early days, the Virginia wine industry focused very heavily on French Bordeaux varietals, as the climate here almost mirrored that of France. To this day, this French influence still remains and has a strong force, as the French grapes Viognier, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc are among the most grown in the state.
Virginia has now expanded massively beyond where it began. We are at a point in time where there truly is something for everyone to enjoy. There has been such a massive increase in the number of wineries and diversity amongst the wines produced that it shows off the versatility of the state as a grounds for growing grapes. If you want to enjoy sweet Riesling-style wine, Virginia is known for fruity and refreshing Vidal Blanc. If you’re looking for a full-bodied but fruit forward red wine, Petit Verdot and the indigenous Norton are amongst the most notable in the state. Say you like spicy wine, Chambourcin is super popular at wineries across the Commonwealth. If you like buttery, but smooth wine, Chardonnay is the most popularly grown grape in Virginia, and Viognier is perhaps the best-adapted grape to our climate here.
Virginia is also such a nice place to get into and explore wine if you’re new to it. Wineries are down to Earth, with friendly staff and patrons. Many are small businesses that are supported by local customers. Wines are affordable, but of great quality and diversity.
If you’re looking to get into wine and figure out what you like, you can go to most any winery in Virginia, and you will find a diverse menu of options. If you are looking for a more quaint and quiet winery to go spend a day at, you can find those easily. Say you are looking for a family-friendly, pet-friendly winery with slushies and live music, we have those too! What is so special about the cultivation of wine in Virginia is that there is something here for anyone, both in palate and atmosphere: from the sweet and juicy wine drinker, to the religious Bordeaux blend aficionado, we have it. Simply put, there is so much out there to be tried and enjoyed.
Notable Virginia Wineries and Wines:
Barboursville Vineyards: Octagon, Nebbiolo
Barrel Oak Winery: Peanut’s Petite Cuvee
Beliveau Farm Winery: Trailblazer Merlot, Chardonnay
Bluemont Vineyards: Chambourcin
Chateau Morrisette Winery: Sweet and Fruit Wines
Chrysalis Vineyards: Norton Schitz and Giggels, Locksley Reserve Norton
Horton Vineyards: Viognier, Vidal Blanc
Jefferson Vineyards: Viognier, Chardonnay
New Kent Winery: White Merlot, White Norton
New River Vineyard: Colonel Luze Raspberry, Mulled Wine
Paradise Springs of Clifton: Norton, Meritage
Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards: Viognier, Petit Verdot
RdV Vineyards: Rendezvous
Rockbridge Vineyards: Jeremiah’s Rose, Lexington & Concord, Vd’Or
The Winery at Bull Run: Reconciliation
The Winery at La Grange: The General Red Blend, Petite Sirah
Trump Winery: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, New World Reserve
Veritas Winery: Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier
This is just a few of many!