So says the Decanter and so says me.
Affectionately known as the birthplace of American wine, the clippings were first planted in the late 1700s. Thomas Jefferson had the vision to produce wine good enough to rival the best in the Old World. As a result, he enlisted some help to research and test what would grow well on his mountaintop home, Monticello.
Through the years, growers faced immense challenges with war, insects, and prohibition. But not all was lost. A native, more resilient grape (propagated in 1835) became the foundation of the Virginia Claret and garnered the region’s international recognition.
Thanks to a collection of talented winemakers and families bringing the best of Europe to Virginia, the winemaking space grew (yes, pun intended). With immense support from local tourism, agriculture, and educational institutions, winemakers cultivated the best products from our unique terrain and beloved grapes.
Fast-forward to the 2000s and we are the fifth-largest wine producer in the US.
Veritas, compliments of the Nelson 151
I find the Virginia wine scene to be more relatable and of better quality than other southern states. Our wines are still super approachable and food-friendly. You can tell the winemakers take such pride in their work. Virginia wines are experimental and sometimes described as “come hither” wines — they invite you to sit and drink to get to know the wine better. That means, we also produce wines that are perfect for sampling on a Saturday afternoon. Added bonus: They typically have lower alcohol content, so you can drink more!
“They are a perfect bridge between the west coast and Europe.” Jennifer Knowles, sommelier at the famed The Inn At Little Washington
With six viticultural areas across the state of Virginia, there’s a lot of potential. It is so fun to talk to the winemakers and hear about the challenges and opportunities of winemaking across the state. Not all popular grapes grow well at all vineyards. Our winemakers have to adapt to their specific land and weather. This brings out a certain resiliency and grit in our wines and you can taste it.
As you explore our wines, you’ll notice some familiar ones and some new ones to you.
Our calling card is the Virginia Viognier. It pairs perfectly with fried chicken and almost every vineyard produces it. Viognier can run aromatic, fresh, and offer a bit of minerality. It’s honey-colored at times, smooth and silky. Try every single one you come across- it’s amazing how each glass can taste a little different.
Flying Fox, compliments of Nelson 151
Cabernet Franc is our most popular red grape. Often described as medium-bodied and earthy with black fruits and high acidity. Its tough skin stands up to our humid summers. When you drink it, you feel like you just made friends with someone who is classic and rugged, with a little bit of attitude. This is what I drink by the fire at night and it always makes me feel like I am hanging out with a spirited AT hiker.
“Virginia makes the best Cabernet Franc in the world.” Bartholomew Broadbent, wine expert and critic
Plan your visit…
- For upcoming events, suggested tours, and a checklist of all the vineyards you can try, see the Monticello Wine Trail.
- Join a meetup with Black Women Who Wine. RSVP here.
- To keep everyone safe, there are multiple tours/shuttles in the area. I recommend Hop on Cville and Monticello Wine Tour.
- To read in-depth wine reviews (Pro tip: you can ship wine from the vineyard to your house), check this out.
For more information about what makes our wine so special, read the Story of Virginia Wine.