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5 Reasons to Rethink Virginia Wine

Photos by Jay Paul/Virginia Wine Board
Photos by Jay Paul/Virginia Wine Board

Virginia is the 5th largest producer of wine in America. At the recent Third Annual Virginia Wine Summit in Richmond, Virginia, beverage professionals and wine experts gathered to celebrate the history and future of Virginia vines, and I was there sipping too. Here are 5 reasons to rethink Virginia wine:

  1. Variety
    Virginia is at the forefront of a transformative moment in American wine. Younger generations of wine drinkers are more adventurous and seek out lesser-known varietals. Virginia winemakers are experimenting with eclectic grapes such as Tannat, Petit Manseng, and Petit Verdot.
  2. Value
    At the summit, Virginia wines like Michael Shaps 2009 Meritage performed spectacularly against heavy hitters from Washington, Napa, and Bordeaux in a blind tasting. Many Virginia wines are available for $20-$30 less per bottle than their counterparts from more established regions.
  3. Pairing Ability
    Sommelier Neal Wavra said it best, “Where we’re really good is at the table.” Virginia wines are exceptionally balanced, many with savory qualities which make them very accessible food wines. Petit Verdot, a favorite in classic blends, grows well in the climate, adds structure and is helping to define the personality of Virginia wine.
  4. Rise of Cider
    With 10 cideries in Virginia and an exploding growth rate, Virginia cider is about to have its moment. (Case in point, TLP’s coverage herehere and here.)
  5. People and Place
    “I’m interested in real grapes, grown by real people, from real places,” said beverage director Erin Scala as we sipped a rich 2013 Viognier from Veritas. Winemaker Emily Pelton then described the lush and balmy late summer in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Viognier beautifully expressed both the landscape and personality behind the juice.