Virginia is the second largest wine producer in the South, thanks to exponential growth over the last few decades. Though the state has been growing wine grapes since the earliest colonial settlements, its reputation as a major wine producer is a relatively recent phenomenon, bolstered in part by major investments from big names like Jean and Steve Case, who founded AOL long before opening Early Mountain Vineyards in 2012. Today, there are more than 250 different wineries in Virginia, up from just a half dozen in 1979. The growth and presence of local wineries is undeniable, but it raises a question: why Virginia?
The Climate Poses Certain Challenges. While the climate bears similarities to those of some world-class wine regions in Europe, Virginia still poses a challenge for growers. Excessive heat, humidity, and rain during the growing season can create mold and rot. It’s a battle against nature where it’s not unusual for growers to experience major losses by harvest time. But year after year, they do it anyway, with no signs of slowing down. Why? Simply put, for all the challenges the climate can sometimes pose, growers know the grapes are well worth the trouble.
Virginia winemaking is a labor of love, fueled by the desire to create something beautiful and truly unique. Known for both Old World and New World styles, Virginia winemakers adapt traditional methods to the new climate and even native grapes like the Norton. To quote Jim Law, a Virginia wine veteran, it’s “a blending game.”
The Wine Will Just Keep Getting Better. With current technology, techniques, and a greater depth of experience growing grapes locally than ever before, Virginia wine is better than it has ever been. And it’s only going to keep getting better. There’s no better time to experience a rapidly growing wine culture that is recognized internationally by some of the biggest names in the wine industry, including famous wine critic Steven Spurrier.
We’re proud to carry over 40 wines from 14 Virginia producers. And in celebration of Virginia Wine Month, they’re 10% off all October long.
If you’re interested in experiencing more of what Virginia has to offer, be sure to visit the store every Thursday from 4pm-7 for our weekly sampling. Each week we offer a free tasting of beer, wine, or cider, with a focus on highlighting local producers and other co-ops. We also offer store-wide samples of cheese and other snacks, as well as live cooking demonstrations.
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