Description 1 of 4

 

It’s a little known fact that wines have been produced in the state of Virginia for centuries. Well, there was attempted production anyway. In the early 1600s, the settlers in British colonial Jamestown ventured to produce European grapes as a way of boosting the British economy to rival wines from France, Italy, and Germany. But they were unsuccessful in making them flourish due to various diseases and early onset of what was later identified as Phylloxera, the mites that decimated the world’s vines centuries later. Interest shifted to tobacco crops. In the 1770s, future president Thomas Jefferson attempted to grow vines at Monticello without much success, as did George Washington at Mount Vernon. By the mid 1800s, successful cultivation was possible working with indigenous North American grapes, though still never as popular as European ones. By the turn of the 20th century, grafting American to European root stock, the technique proven to ward off Phylloxera, came into practice to strengthen vines. Grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay could now be grown in Virginia. But by 1920, Prohibition put an abrupt end to what was finally becoming a flourishing industry. It wasn’t until the 1950s that wineries began to produce again in earnest. Two of the top Virginia wineries, Barboursville and Waverly Estate were established in the 1970s, inspiring others to follow suit. Today, there are nearly 200 wineries in production. 
 
The climate and soil conditions in Virginia vary extensively. Areas such as those around the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountain ranges are cool and rocky, further inland summers in the flat lands can be very hot and dry. There are six AVA’s within the state: 
 
*Shenandoah Valley - the largest and most diverse
*Monticello - where Thomas Jefferson’s viticultural dreams are finally being realized
*Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace - along the Chesapeake Bay
*Eastern Shore - scenic and sandy, with free-draining soils
*North Fork of Roanoke - higher elevations with great ripening potential
*Rocky Knob - as the name suggests, along the slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains
 
The most popular grapes are French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Viognier. American varietals and hybrids are also produced such as Norton, Vidal Blanc, Traminette, and Chambourcin. Virginia also produces various fruit wines. 
– Description from Amanda Schuster

Back to top

Description 2 of 4

Ahhh... we got a good one in the works in Virginia. Vintage 2010, as fingers remained firmly crossed in Virginia, is shaping up to be one of the best in recent history. Particularly for the reds. Keep an eye out for long barrel aging from the better estates as they do what they can to allow Mother Nature do what she does best. Side note: And it should be known that I am a huge fan of Michael Shaps (note: full disclosure) though I've yet to figure out a way to get him to pay me yet- ALTHOUGH the word "peanuts" WAS INDEED mentioned more than once in our last chat. The note being that we met up again this week as I was supposed to be helping him bottle the '09 Meritage, to no avail due to electrical issues. So we tasted some wine instead. The Michael Shaps 2007 Merlot, I have tried but only as part of the blend in the '07 Meritage- never by its lonesome. Michael had a bottle of the '07 Shaps Merlot out at the table (yes, it has legs and a place to put things, so it can be officially classified as a table)- and we gave it a try. Conditions: the bottle had been open the day before and tasted, but sealed overnight, opened the next day whereupon came across it. So, it could be considered to have undergone a very, very subtle and patient decant when I had it. I've liked merlot in the past. One of my favorite wines was a 2000 Chateau Le Croix de Gay from Pomerol (like $40 at the time, maybe moreso now). So smooth and silky. I've even enjoyed some of both the lighter ad heavier styles of merlot produced in the United States- from Duck Horn and Twomey, all the way down to the lovable and infinitely quaff able Clos du Bois... but I have never had an American merlot that so knocked my socks off as the '07 Shaps The fruit was still evident and seductive, but that's just as things were getting warmed up. The richness that flows onto the palate is unmistakable for the varietal- although if served from a brown bag to friends in the Big Apple- the source of the vines would probably average being off by a rather large ocean. Smells, tastes, feels... finishes like a robust, right bank Bordeaux. Not a Petrus nor a Le Pin, but that's not the point. The '07 Shaps Merlot has a powerful attack the wraps its arms around your palate as soon as it gets to those taste buds. The depth to it may be its most defining characteristic, if it weren't for the velvety, luxurious finish that brings the nose back to the nose for another run. I bought two bottles on the spot. One to confound friends in the near future, the other to sip on in about five, maybe ten years. – Description from ChipDWood

Back to top

Description 3 of 4

Virginia's wine making reputation- as well as its roster of vineyards, wineries & wine makers- is growing with an undeniable drumbeat. Each year new wineries are popping up, new winemakers are staking their claim; and a new fabric to what is the tapestry of American wine-making is being woven by farmers, entrepreneurs, and wine-obsessed free spirits. It's a new world, Virginia. We're going to be doing all we can here at Snooth to be "mindful witnesses" to what some consider to be the best kept secret for the wine geek on the east coast. As we build our Virginia Group (and try some new things of our own), we encourage each of you to find your way to the Commonwealth to try some of what the buzz is all about. A GREAT resource regarding traveling the various wine trails in Virginia can be found at the following link: http://www.virginiawine.org/ Virginia is for wine lovers, and now more than ever. Stay tuned. – Description from ChipDWood

Back to top

Description 4 of 4

Virginia’s Eastern Shore is known more for spectacular beaches than for its viticultural prowess. Currently, there are five local growers, with 70 acres under vine, mostly planted to Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The appellation encompasses Accomack and Northampton counties, in the southern portion of Delmarva Peninsula. Virginia’s 70-mile portion of the peninsula is relatively flat and thin, has sandy soils and is heavily influenced by its proximity to the ocean and Chesapeake Bay. Seasons are more moderate than in mainland Virginia, with lower summer daytime temperatures and milder winters. As in the rest of Virginia, definitive decisions about varietal, clonal, and trellis system selections are a work in progress. The future looks positive for this AVA, which has a new winery in development. Bloxom Vineyard's is 90% complete and anticipates opening its doors in May. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

Back to top

« Back to Virginia Overview




View larger map



Best Wine Deals

  • $34.59
    26%off
    Bodegas Valsacro Tempranillo Blend Rioja Dioro Seleccíon J&d
    Bodegas Valsacro Tempranillo Blend Rioja Dioro Seleccíon J&d 2005
  • $18.99
    27%off
    Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett Riesling
    Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett Riesling 2011
See More Deals »

Recent Forum PostsView all


Virginia wine ratings and reviews






Snooth Media Network