America's best wines, richest history, and abundance of historical sites are what Virginia has to offer. Dispel the perception that the only wines us Virginians enjoy are cold wine coolers after a day of mowing our grass. There are reputable wines coming out of Virginia and our wine history goes back to the Jamestown Settlement. With over 200 wineries across the commonwealth, there is a wine presence here that even Thomas Jefferson would be proud to call wine country.
The forefather of American wine industry and wine connoisseur, Thomas Jefferson (farmer first) planted the European vinifera varieties at Monticello (little mountain). Jefferson expanded his knowledge for wine while he was U.S. Minister to France and travelled throughout Western European wine countries. According to some cites, Jefferson spend 12% of his $25,000 Presidential Salary on wine.
With the help of financial backing from George Washington (farmer first) and other elite farmers, the 'Virginia Wine Company' project was the vanguard in Virginia viticulture. This project made great wines as seen in Bordeaux, Mosel, and Piedmont until the Hessian Soldiers destroyed the vines. New vines were planted and over two hundred years later, Monticello's Jefferson Winery still exists as an operating vineyard/winery today.
Not to beat the dead horse debate regarding the standing boring questions such as Old World vs. New World wines or does gout de terroir (taste of the soil) or elevage (wine making methods) make a better wine? But just for grape's sake let's examine 'the sense of place' from just a few of these fabulous Virginian wine tasting trails.
The Virginia soil that was 'yesteryears' Revolutionary and Civil War battles are today the most beautiful vineyards. No, there is absolutely not a hint of sanguine (chalky red/brown soil resulted from dried blood) tasting notes in their wines; obviously the irony did not escape me. Virginia being the cradle of America has wineries located on historically significant sites, revolutionary war era houses, historical plantations, battlegrounds, majestic mountain sides, and picturesque pastoral landscapes.
These are family owned wineries & vineyards which make handcrafted artisan boutique wines that only produce limited cases of wine. In contrast to mass-produced wineries that grow grapes around the state or buy bulk grape juice from around the world and produce millions of cases per year. As the saying goes around here, "true wines stem from true farmers". Along with the mainstream grape varietals, Virginia farmers' feature the true expressions of Petit Manseng, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Norton, Petit Verdot and Chambourcin grape varietals. Check out the documentary film, "Vintage: The Winemaker's year" about Virginia's wine industry. www.silverthornfilms.com/vintage
Around this neck of the woods, our wine culture tastes a 'sense of place'. The Virginia wine tasting trails are for the adventurous wine lovers and history buffs which should be on every traveler's bucket list. Come taste history in the making. Yes Virginia, to see it is to believe it. Tell your wine enjoying friends to Sip, Savor, & Explore. Virginia is for wine lovers.
For the complete list of Virginia wine tasting trails. www.virginiawine.org/regions
The Delong 100 Grape Varietal Challenge encourages all wine enjoyers to expand their wine drinking horizon by seeking out unusual grape varieties. These past few years, I have tasted over 180 grape varieties. After all, there are over thousands of grape varieties world wide. With so many wine grapes, styles of wine, and wineries to explore, wine is an educational adventure. So grab your virtual passport and come along with me on a Grape EdVenture™ around the world.
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