Virginia wine

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Wine region
Map of USA VA.svg
Official nameCommonwealth of Virginia
TypeU.S. state
Year established1788
Sub-regionsMiddleburg AVA, Monticello AVA, North Fork of Roanoke AVA, Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace AVA, Rocky Knob AVA, Shenandoah Valley AVA, Virginia's Eastern Shore AVA
Climate regionHumid subtropical with maritime and continental in highland areas
Total area42,774 square miles (110,784 km2)
Grapes producedAglianico, Albariño, Barbera, Black Muscat, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cayuga, Chambourcin, Chancellor, Chardonel, Chardonnay, Colombard, Concord, Corot noir, De Chaunac, Fer, Gewürztraminer, Graciano, Grüner Veltliner, Malbec, Malvasia, Marechal Foch, Merlot, Munson, Muscat Canelli, Muscat Ottonel, Nebbiolo, Niagara, Norton, Petit Manseng, Petit Verdot, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Pinot noir, Pinotage, Primitivo, Riesling, Rkatziteli, Roussanne, Ruby Cabernet, Sangiovese, Sauvignon blanc, Scheurebe, Semillon, Seyval blanc, Steuben, Syrah, Tannat, Tempranillo, Tinta Cão, Touriga Nacional, Traminette, Trebbiano, Verdelho, Vidal blanc, Vignoles, Villard blanc, Viognier, Zinfandel[1]
No. of wineriesOver 250

Virginia wine refers to wine made primarily from grapes grown in the commonwealth of Virginia. Wine has been produced in the area since the early days of European colonization in the 17th century. Virginia has hot humid summers that can be challenging to viticulture, and only within the last twenty years has the industry developed beyond novelty status, but Virginia is now the second-largest wine producer by volume in the American South, after Kentucky. By tonnage, Vitis vinifera varieties represents 75% of total production. French hybrids varieties account for nearly 20% of total wine grape production in the commonwealth, while American varietals make up only about 5% of the total; as of 2012, the top 5 varietals produced are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Vidal blanc and Viognier.[2]

As of 2016, the commonwealth has approximately 2,600 acres (11 km2) under cultivation, with a total harvest of over 6500 tons; the commonwealth ranks fifth in the nation for both bearing acreage and grape production.[3] The central and northern Virginia counties, in particular those located just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, account for the significant majority of the commonwealth's production.[2]


Virginia has a history of wine that dates back to the colonial era. In 1619, at the meeting of the first representative assembly in English America, the burgesses sitting in the Jamestown church passed “Acte 12” which required Virginia colonists to plant vineyards.[4]

Around 1807, Thomas Jefferson, considered one of the greatest patrons of wine in the United States, had established two vineyards in his south orchard, his goal to make wine from his Virginia Monticello estate was met with the unsuccessful cultivation of the classic European grape varieties due to the inability to control black rot and the destructive aphid-like root louse called phylloxera. [5] [6]

The vineyard at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello home did not produce wine until the late 20th century.

In the early 1900s, Charlottesville's Monticello Wine Company and its Virginia Claret Wine were so well-regarded that the city declared itself to be "the Capital of the Wine Belt in Virginia."[7][8]

The rebirth was led in part by the investment of the Zonin family of Italy in a new vineyard in Barboursville in 1976. Barboursville Vineyards served as a catalyst in the 1970s, alongside the now defunct Oakencroft Vineyards. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, many other vineyards and wineries joined the mix and by 2009, over 163 wineries were operating in Virginia. By 2012 there were over 230 wineries operating in Virginia. Almost all of these are small, family-owned vineyards and wineries, and only the very largest have developed distribution networks; as a result, the wineries rely on wine tourism and direct sales for most of their revenue. To encourage visitors, they often play host to special events with music, food, and other activities;[9] as Virginia wines sold in Virginia have the requirement that the majority of the grapes used must be grown in Virginia, and since Virginia is not growing enough grapes to support the number of wineries, one Floyd County winery has expanded its operation in a five-year contract to export its wines to China. Chateau Morrisette, with the help of Governor Bob McDonnell's office, will be exporting its Merlot to China, and plans to add other wines later.[10]

Wine Industry[edit]

A growing number of for-profit and non-profit organizations have been established to promote Virginia Wine; the state of Virginia has taken an active role in helping promote the wine industry in the state even to the extent of managing a state wide distributor company for Virginia wineries.


  1. ^ Appellation America (2007). "Virginia: Appellation Description". Retrieved Nov. 16, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "2012 Virginia Commercial Grape Report". Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office. March 18, 2013.
  3. ^ "Governor McDonnell Announces Sales of Virginia Wine Reach New All-Time High". Office of the Governor of Virginia. January 14, 2013.
  4. ^ "Romancing the Vine in Virginia". Colonial Williamsburg, Charles M. Holloway. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  5. ^ "The Vineyards". Monticello and Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  6. ^ "At Historic Vineyard, A Historic Harvest". NY Times, Howard G. Goldberg. Retrieved June 8, 2019.
  7. ^ Leahy, Richard (February 19, 2008). "Virginia Wine: Nearly Four Centuries and Counting". Retrieved November 30, 2008. In Charlottesville, the Monticello Wine Company, operating with grapes grown by co-op members, won a major international award in 1873 at the Vienna Exposition for a "Virginia claret" based on Norton.
  8. ^ "Historical Highway Markers: Monticello Wine Company". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved November 30, 2008.
  9. ^ "Realising Jefferson's Wine Vision" (PDF). Sommelier India. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  10. ^ The Roanoke Times, July 7, 2013

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