Embracing Virginia’s Terroir
June 2, 2013
The wine regions of Virginia have taken a large chunck of center stage in the Eastern United States as grape varieties focus more to red Bordeaux selections with Sangiovese and Tannat in tow. Hightened attention in winery is bringing the most out of these plantings and these wines are gaining much acclaim. Cast in a more European style, finesse over raw power prevails.
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The time is now for Virginia’s dynamic wine industry, which is growing at an exponential rate. While in 1979 the state had only six wineries, it now has closer to 140. Mark Warner, the state’s former governor and a grape grower himself, signed a bill allowing Virginia’s wineries to ship directly to out of state consumers. Virginia has six AVAs, but many of its wineries are outside these boundaries, particularly in Loudon and Madison Counties. The state has warm humid summers and erratic winters. Extensive research is underway to match varietal, clonal and vine training systems to Virginia’s various terroirs. Chardonnay is the most produced grape, more than doubling its rival, Cabernet Sauvignon. Viognier and Cabernet Franc are two Vitus vinifera varietals garnering high praise in the vineyards and from critics. French-American hybrids and native vines also thrive, forming nearly 20% of production. The modern viticultural industry is still in its infancy in Virginia. However, the state’s combination of natural beauty, history and ecological diversity all bode well for the future of the Virginia wine industry.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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