July 15, 2015
Region of the Week: Virginia
Although Virginia is overshadowed by other regions – namely California, Washington, or Oregon – the state is quickly becoming the next big US wine region.
With more than 250 wineries and almost 400 vineyards, Virginia is the fifth largest wine region in the United States. Its wines still struggle with a bias among wine aficionados, because of its novelty. But not only has the area grown in size over the last decade, quality has also increased tremendously; especially in the Viognier variety, the state’s official Signature Grape.
Did you know?
Virginia’s viticultural history dates back to the 17th century. After the settlement of the colonists in Jamestown in 1619, the local government passed Act 12, one of America’s earliest laws. This law required every man to plant at least ten vines and ship the resulting wine back to England. More than a century later, Thomas Jefferson attempted to cultivate European grapes for wine production at Monticello, but never succeeded. Still, today, Virginia wine is not only sold nationwide, but also in some international markets like China or the United Kingdom.
Virginia and its grapes
There are over 60 different grape varieties grown in Virginia, including popular ones like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier and Merlot. Virginia is also known for its Petit Verdot, a fascinating medium-bodied red wine that often makes a great addition to several blended Bordeaux-style red wines.
Where to taste?
Bluemont Vineyards – sitting high on a slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Bluemont Vineyards offer gorgeous views of the countryside, a tasting room with in and outdoors seating areas for guests to enjoy DC’s Wine Country’s scenery. Once there, try the winery’s Farm Table White NV
Willowcroft Farm Vineyards – a 30-yeard old winery with a red barn tasting room, spectacular views, and, of course, award-winning wines, especially their 2011 Cabernet Blanc or 2012 Petit Verdot.
Breaux Vineyards – one of the state’s largest wineries with over 100 acres of vineyard; enjoy their internationally acclaimed wines in the tasting room, by the fireplace, or their outdoor terrace overlooking the valley between Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains. Also, Breaux Vineyards’ 2011 Rosé should be on your wines-to-taste list.
For more wineries that are worth a visit, check out one of our recent blog posts: Three Lesser-Known American Wine Regions to Visit.
Where to stay?
Goodstone Inn & Restaurant, a country inn and award-winning French restaurant with 18 rooms and breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Located in the heart of Middleburg’s wine country, this 265-acre estate features a farm-to-table eatery, a wine cellar with a very diverse selection of 1,500 bottles, and a number of activities.
Take a look at a great alternative closer to downtown, mentioned in another post.
When to go?
While wineries are open year-round, we recommend visiting Virginia’s in autumn to experience its picturesque landscapes and beautiful fall foliage. Bonus: October is a prime time to visit Virginia’s wine country, with Virginia Wine Month, filled with wine festivals, harvest parties and barrel tastings.
Before planning your trip to Virginia, take a look at this great resource for more options and ideas.