Learn about it and enjoy it even more! Make MINE Virginia WINE
Virginia is home to a modern wine country on the rise and was named one of ten best wine travel destinations in the United States (learn more, click here). The state is home to 141 wineries and 3,000 acres of vineyards, the 7th largest wine producing region in the United states. The states produce varities of wine getting attention from California, New York, to London.
Virginians have made wine for more than 4 centuries. Virginia winemakers are truly expressing the Virginia land in wine. Virginia works with weather similar to that of Europe and producing amazing wine, especially for those looking for an old style red wine. A number of factors work to make Virginia not just a producer of wine, but a wine region. Virginia wine is the story of Virginia today.
Weekend Oasis vacation rentals offers properties around Virginia and close to all the vineyards. Blue Mountain Oasis is located minutes from all the vineyards in Faquier and Warren County including Linden Vineyards, Fox Meadow Vineyards, Chateau O'Brien, and Philip Carter Winery. Chestnut Oak Lodge and Bryce Condo at Bryce Resort are located in Shenandoah County, with access to many vineyards such as Crooked Run and Cave Ridge.
Weekend Oasis Vacation Rentals partners with many vineyards and as our logo alludes to, we appreciate Virginia Wine and aim to provide quality lodging for anyone looking to enjoy the vineyards in the state. We hope you find useful information relating to Virginia Wine on this page and explore the many vineyards Virginia has to offer.
For the most comprehensive source of Virginia Wine information click on over to Virginia Wine (www.VirginiaWine.org)
Virginia Wine History
Some 400 years after English settlers hoped to establish a flourishing wine industry at Jamestown, Virginia wines are making a name for themselves. Leading English wine authorities have taken note. In a May, 2007 London wine tasting to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, 64 Virginia wines wowed wine critics and lovers alike. Not long ago Travel and Leisure magazine’s Bruce Schoenfeld proclaimed Virginia one of five up-and-coming wine regions (along with areas of Chile, Italy, Spain and New Zealand) that “should be on the must-visit list of any adventurous wine traveler.” And in The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, a reviewer wrote that “Virginia is making Cabernet Franc and Viognier wines that are world-beaters,” citing a Saveur article in which wine critic Paul Luckas named two Virginia Viogniers among the best available.
Wines from the Commonwealth are winning national and international recognition for their elegant qualities. Virginia’s terroir – those special characteristics of the land that affect wine – helps vintners create wines stylistically between those of California and Europe that go particularly well with food. Chefs have noticed. An exclusive Chicago restaurant features a Virginia wine on its 10-course dining experience at $350 a plate.
Virginia Viognier, now an accepted term among wine fanciers, is already on its way to being one of Virginia’s most notable wines. Also getting national recognition are Virginia Cabernet Franc and Virginia’s native Norton. Virginia wine history Virginians have made wine for more than four centuries. The Jamestown settlers had such hopes that Virginia would become a major source of wine for the British Empire that in 1619 they signed into law a requirement for each male settler to plant and tend at least ten grape vines. Little came of it. Every effort to grow vinifera, or vines of European origin, met with failure from an unknown pest, Phylloxera as well as diseases in a new environment.
The booming tobacco trade diluted British interest in the possibilities of American wine. Americans themselves lost interest. While fine wine could be had only from Europe, whiskey, beer and brandy were plentiful. In hopes of one day realizing the promise of fine Virginia wines, Thomas Jefferson cultivated European grapes for more than 30 years. His Monticello vineyards never produced a single bottle of wine from his years of vineyard trials. He wasn’t alone in trying.
After 11 years of efforts at Mount Vernon, George Washington, too, had nothing to show for it. In the 1820s, wines made from Native American grapes met with great success. Then a Virginia Norton wine was named “best red wine of all nations” at the Vienna World’s Fair in 1873. Plus a gold medal for Norton at the Paris World’s Fair of 1889 when the Eiffel tower was constructed. The discovery in the late 1800s that native and European vines could be grafted gave Virginia’s nascent wine industry a lift – but in the early 20th century, Prohibition promptly brought it to a standstill. The industry was slow to bounce back. Some 17 years after Prohibition’s repeal, Virginia had all of 15 acres of commercial wine grapes. In the late-1950s, experimental plantings of vinifera showed promise.
With the establishment of six new wineries in the 1970s, the recovery was officially underway. A renewed effort to grow a European Chardonnay succeeded at the Waverly Estate in Middleburg in 1973. Then in 1976, Italian pioneer vintner Gianni Zonin hired Gabriele Rausse to grow and harvest vinifera grapes near Charlottesville. He established Barboursville Vineyards and then helped other vineyards do the same. By 1995, Virginia had 46 wineries. By 2005, 107. At 140 wineries and counting today, only California, New York, Oregon and Washington have more wineries than Virginia. The persistence of generations of winemakers is paying off. And the vision of one of Virginia’s most renowned native sons, Thomas Jefferson, is now coming true.
Virginia Wine Varieties White Wines
- Chardonnay grapes are so malleable, they can be used to make a variety of wines from dry to sparkling. No one style defines this grape, which produces medium- to full-bodied wines with flavors that range from tart green apple to buttery pear. Chardonnay is one of the most widely planted winemaking grapes in the Commonwealth; and Chardonnay wines pair well with everything from chicken and turkey to smoked fish, crab and selected cheeses.
- Petit Manseng, a white wine variation of the black Manseng grape, gets its name from its small berries. It makes distinctive dry white wines and can be harvested late to make fine white and dessert wines. Petit mansengs have rich aromas of candied fruit, spice and honey. Petit Manseng goes well with a variety of foods and includes Asian and Thai dishes that are not overly spicy.
- Riesling grapes produce wines that epitomize the harmony between sugar and acid, at the same time keeping their distinct differences. A Riesling wine can be tart and bone-dry on the one hand or extremely sweet on the other. Riesling grapes take on the character of the land they are grown. Virginia Rieslings have the wine’s typical floral and fruit characteristics, often with a citrus and peachy aroma. Try a Virginia Riesling with Virginia sugar-cured ham or roast turkey.
- Sauvignon Blanc grapes are at home in a variety of growing conditions and grown by many Virginia vineyards. The grape makes dry white wines known for their sharp acidity and aroma of fresh herbs and hay. When Sauvignon Blanc vines grow in limestone-rich soil, the resulting wine can have the smoky aroma of flint. Sauvignon Blancs go well with shrimp, salmon and other seafood as well as poultry dishes, notably roast chicken.
- Seyval Blanc, sometimes shortened to Seyval, is a popular, reliably productive French-American hybrid that ripens early in the fall harvest season. It makes a crisp, distinct dinner wine, or conversely, sweet dessert wine. Known for its smell of green apples, Seyval is a component of some white wine blends. Seyval Blancs pair well with chicken, game birds, swordfish and a variety of other foods.
- Viognier gives off a strong and appealing perfume of fresh fruit and flowers. While this suggests a sweet wine, Viognier is typically a dry, or slightly off dry wine. A popular choice of vineyards and vintners alike, Virginia Viogniers are garnering attention beyond the state’s borders. Viogniers accompany lobster, veal, cheeses and pork well, including nearly any food with a rich sauce.
- Vidal Blanc, often shortened to just Vidal, is a hardy, thick-skinned grape that thrives in even the coldest wine-growing regions. Vidal Blancs vary in style from dry, crisp wines to late-harvest sweet wines to expensive ice wines. Vidal Blancs have fruity, floral traits that complement scallops, crab, grilled salmon and tuna. Chicken and turkey as well as sweeter foods such as fruit platters go well with Vidal Blancs, too.
- Cabernet Franc is a thin-skinned grape that ripens early. It’s fruitier, more herbal and lower in acidity than its genetic offspring, Cabernet Sauvignon. Similar to Merlot in body, Cabernet Francs tend to have spicy aromas with hints of mint, plum, blackberry and violets. National and state wine experts consider Cabernet Franc to be among Virginia’s best red wines. Sometimes similar to Merlot in food pairings, Cabernet Francs go well with pastas with red sauces, beef stew and even hamburgers.
- Merlot vines like rocky, arid ground but also adapt well to soils with more clay content. The thin-skinned Merlot grape produces wines softer in tannins than Cabernet Sauvignon yet with similar leather, mint and blackberry qualities. Approachable and easy-to-drink Virginia Merlots are favorites among wine drinkers. Their elegant and concentrated flavor makes them pair well with pastas in red sauce, beef stew and lamb, among other dishes.
- Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most widely planted red varietals and a longstanding favorite among Virginia vineyards and vintners. Cabernet Sauvignon yields a dry wine that can be light and approachable or, should the vintner desire, heavier and age-worthy. Complex flavors of black currant, green olive, mint and herbs characterize most Cabernet Sauvignons. And the winemaking process can endow it with hints of vanilla, smoke and leather. Cabernet Sauvignons go well with steak, hamburger, leg of lamb and pungent cheeses.
- Norton is the oldest native North American varietal and was being cultivated and made into wine in Virginia prior to the Civil War. A Virginia native Norton was named the “best red wine of all nations” at the Vienna World’s Fair of 1873. Nortons are deeply colored, age-worthy wines with rich, fruity aromas and flavors. They complement red meat, smoked meat, wild game, rock fish and many cheeses.
- Petit Verdot creates a dark, purplish, medium-bodied red wine characterized by perfumes from fruity and spicy to herbal, with bouquets of leather, coconut, smoke, toast and dark chocolate. Petit Verdot’s flavors and tannins go together well with Cabernets and Merlots and make it a small but influential addition to many blended Bordeaux-style red wines. This red wine can pair well with steaks, rich sauces, Italian foods, barbecue, strong cheeses.
- Chambourcin is a vigorous, disease-resistant French-American hybrid developed in the Loire Valley of France. Noted for evocative herbal aromas and crisp acidity, Chambourcins are typically dry, full-flavored wines with hints of berries. They pair well with a variety of foods, from hamburgers and veal to tuna, swordfish, Mahi-mahi and flounder.
- Rosé is a wine that can range from light to dark pink. The color typically results from red-skinned grape skins remaining in the wine for only a short period before removal. Originally a dry, subtle wine, Rosés are now similar to white wines in how they range from dry to semi-sweet. Rosés go well with all sorts of seafood and make a fine apéritif wine to pair with cheeses.
- Sparkling Wines get their bubbly, nose-tickling characteristic by carbonation caused by natural fermentation in the bottle or by having carbon dioxide added during the winemaking process. Sparkling wines are usually white or rosé in color and range from dry to semi-sweet in taste. Many Virginia wineries offer excellent examples of sparkling wines. Sparkling wines go well with mild and strong cheeses, with shellfish, seafood with light sauces, Asian dishes, poultry, fruits and dessert.
- Fruit Wines & Meads Each fruit wine takes its names from its primary ingredient. Various Virginia winemakers offer such fruit wines as blackberry, raspberry, apple, pear, peach, blueberry and strawberry. A few wineries are also producing meads (honey wines).
Virginia Wine Guide
Virginia Wine Organization puts together a remarkable wine guide each year. You can download the Shenandoah Valley Wine guide by follow this link.
We've compiled a directory of vineyards in Virginia (over 190) broken by geographic region. Simply click a region below and you'll find a list of vineyards. Click one of the vineyards for details about it and hopefully you'll find yourself on the Virginia wine trail soon! Remember, make mine virginia wine! Happy sipping!