The West Coast has definitely made a name for itself as a key player in the global wine industry with California, Washington, and Oregon all being at the top of the list not only in America but throughout the world as leading wine producers. However, there are some places along the Eastern side of our country that deserve some recognition too.
There are five main regions within Virginia: Northern Virginia, Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge, Central Virginia, and Southern Virginia with close to ten AVAs between them. What makes each AVA is the vast difference in climate. For instance, the Shenandoah Valley is entirely inland and has the rolling hills, which provides more of a warm and dry climate. On the other side, the Eastern Shore AVA is sandwiched between the Chesapeake Bay and the Pacific Ocean which has the sea breezes and humidity.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has only been producing wine since about the 17th century but today is the second leading state of production by volume, just after Kentucky. Unlike many of the other wine regions around the country, most of what Virginia produces is vinis vinifera, the common grape (75%, actually), followed by French varietals (20%), and American varietals (5%). In fact, America’s oldest wine grape, Norton, was first cultivated in Richmond, Virginia in the 1820s.
Although French varietals aren’t as widely grown in Virginia, that isn’t stopping these innovative winemakers from producing their own Old World wines. From their hometown grape Norton, Virginians are producing stunning, noteworthy Chardonnays, Cabernet Francs, Petit Verdots, and Viogniers. The Cabernet Franc has gained some acclaim as Virginia’s best wine-spicy, peppery, and robust with rich dark fruit flavors.
One of the coolest parts about Virginia’s wine country is the vast amount of wine trails and tours you can visit. These wineries have so much history built into them because of the history of the state itself. Each trail shows you a unique part of the state that you get to experience through the wine and winemakers, with gorgeous scenery, delicious homemade food, and adorable places to stay.
What’s better than great wine and artisanal pizza?
The New York Times described Ridge Monte Bello as “America’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignon.”
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