Travelling through Virginia would be incomplete without wine tasting and visiting the Virginia vineyards. Since the 17th century, Virginia has been a vineyard delight when the first European colonizers brought vines to this region. Since this state has weather conditions that may not be favorable for vines, vineyards in Virginia have really started prospering only in the last couple of decades.
Of the many varieties planted in Virginia vineyards, the prominent ones are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, Merlot, and Vidal Blanc. Virginia vineyards now amount to 3,000 acres with a 7500 ton harvest. Most of the production from vineyards in Virginia amount come from east of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Some of the different grape varieties produced in the vineyards in Virginia are Concord, Aglianico, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Ruby Cabernet, Pinot Noir, among others. There are over 200 wineries now in Virginia, most of which are family owned.
In the early 19th century, Charlottesville was declared as the “Capital of the Wine Belt in Virginia”. Virginia wines made from Virginia vineyards and sold in Virginia need to have most of the grapes grown from vineyards in Virginia itself. This is a difficult requirement for most Virginia vineyards to meet because the state does not produce as many grapes as are required for the wineries. This has led to some Virginia vineyards exporting their wines to China, such as Merlot.
There are many wine festivals to promote wine sales and wine tourism in order to expand the distribution network in Virginia vineyards. There are several wine regions in Virginia. These are the Blue Ridge, Central Virginia, Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Virginia, Hampton Roads, Heart of Appalachia, Northern Virginia, Shenandoah Valley, and Southern Virginia.
These are the AVAs in Virginia: The Shenandoah Valley AVA, the Monticello AVA, the Eastern Shore AVA, George Washington Birthplace AVA, the North Fork of Roanoke AVA, the Rocky Knob AVA, and the Middleburg AVA.
The Monticello AVA is home to Thomas Jefferson, where he spent many years trying to grow many different grapes of different varieties from Europe. The soil here is granite based and very fertile with a growing season of 200 days.
The Blue Ridge region has a wide variety of red and white wines, from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, to Sauvignon Blanc. The region of Southern Virginia you can find wines made not just from grapes but from the other fruits in the area too. These are the Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Vidal Blanc and Chardonnay. The Shenandoah Valley has soil that is fertile and rocky. Here you can get almost every variety of wine, from Zinfandel to Mandolin, Merlot, Norton, Vidal Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc. You will also get a wide variety of fruit wines. The northern Virginia region has rich soils and winters which are moderate, which is great for wines to grow. Here you will find many grape wines such as Chardonnay, Mandolin, as well as many fruit wines. The Heart of Appalachia has rocky slopes and a year round temperate climate so both grape and fruit wines are produced here.