Virginia Wines

With more than 280 vineyards, 10 wine regions and seven appellations of origin (American Viticultural Areas), Virginia is today a state that is increasingly being talked about for the quality of its wines and the warm welcome given to oenophiles who wish to discover the region. After California, Oregon, Washington State, New York and Texas, it is the sixth largest wine producing region in the United States. Unfortunately, wine production remains small. Very little wine crosses the borders of the State and even less goes to export. If you want to discover the wines of Virginia, the best thing is that you go there. You’re in luck, the wine tourism has developed a lot in recent years!

A Little History

Virginia is one of the oldest wine producing regions in the United States. It was already making wine in the 18th century, even before the creation of the United States. A great lover of French wines, Thomas Jefferson, one of the first American presidents, did a lot at the time to develop the vine culture in the region. Unfortunately, it did not have much success, as most of the vines planted were affected by diseases, but the basics of viticulture in Virginia were established. It was not until the mid-1970s that the Virginia wine industry really took off with the installation of the famous Italian family Zonin and its vineyard in Barboursville. During the 80s and 90s, many vineyards were born. At the end of the 2000s, there were just over 160 vineyards, today there are more than 280.

Geography, Climate & Appellations

Virginia is a state in the southeastern United States. The Virginia wine regions stretch from Chesapeake Bay in the east to the Appalachian Mountains in the west. There are no fewer than 10 wine regions: Blue Ridge, Central Virginia, Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Shore, Hampton Roads, Heart of Appalachia, Northern Virginia, Shenandoah Valley, Southern Virginia, Virginia Mountains. All are accessible from Washington DC, the US capital, within an hour to four hours of driving, depending on the region visited. Added to these 10 regions are seven American Viticulture Areas (AVAs): Middleburg, Monticello, North Fork of Roanoke, Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace, Rocky Knob, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia’s Eastern Shore. During my stay in Virginia, I only had the opportunity to visit vineyards of the Monticello appellation. Virginia has very hot and humid summers, which is sometimes a challenge for vine growers, especially with respect to vine diseases.

Cultivated Grape varieties

Virginia is one of the oldest wine producing regions in the United States. It was already making wine in the 18th century, even before the creation of the United States. A great lover of French wines, Thomas Jefferson, one of the first American presidents, did a lot at the time to develop the vine culture in the region. Unfortunately, it did not have much success, as most of the vines planted were affected by diseases, but the basics of viticulture in Virginia were established. It was not until the mid-1970s that the Virginia wine industry really took off with the installation of the famous Italian family Zonin and its vineyard in Barboursville. During the 80s and 90s, many vineyards were born. At the end of the 2000s, there were just over 160 vineyards, today there are more than 280.

Estates of Interest

During my trip to Virginia I had the opportunity to visit several areas as well as participate in a tasting that allowed me to discover some of the best wines produced in this US state. This is however only representative of the Monticello region in which I stayed.

Barboursville: Owned by the Zonin family, who has been producing wine for generations in Italy, the estate is one of the most famous in Virginia. In my opinion, this is a must in the region, with its chic restaurant and superb tasting room. You must try their Octagon wine, one of Virginia’s flagship wines. But the whole range of products is superb. I particularly liked their Vermentino, their Viognier and … their Nebbiolo! bbvwine.com

Early Mountain: Best Mountain Winery of the Year 2018 by the prestigious Wine Enthusiast magazine, Early Mountain has, in just a few years, positioned itself as one of the best Virginia estates. The tasting room is absolutely beautiful, and the wines are worth seeing. I loved their rosé and their parcels of cabernet franc. Their brand new Cuvée Rise (a blend of 57% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 14% Petit Verdot, 14% Tannat) has the potential to become one of Virginia’s greatest wines. earlymountain.com

Afton Mountain: Surrounded by mountains, the view of the vineyard is superb. I unfortunately did not have the opportunity to taste their wines, except in barrels. Bordeaux type assemblages are promising. They also make a superb fortified Maury-style wine: aftonmountainvineyards.com

King Family Vineyards: I did not have time to visit them, but I had the chance to taste many of their wines, and I had a real crush, including their Viognier and their ” Bordeaux blends ”. Their French oenologist Mathieu Finot is ultra-friendly. kingfamilyvineyards.com

Veritas: Very nice wines, among the best in Monticello County. Their 100% petit verdot is very good, their Viognier also. veritaswines.com

Blenheim Vineyards: another area recognized for the quality of its wines. I liked their Roussanne, a variety often capricious. blenheimvineyards.com

Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard: The place is known for organizing weddings and we understand why! The site is absolutely superb with the view of the vineyards and the surrounding mountains. The wines are correct, without being of the same quality as the aforementioned areas. The food however is superb. They have a beautiful garden and a farm on site and the vast majority of ingredients used for cooking are produced locally or come from the best producers in the region. An ideal place to relax with family or friends. https://www.pippinhillfarm.com/