Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Virginia, mid-Atlantic state in the eastern united states in which wine production has increased substantially since 1980. Grapes have been planted there since the early settlers came to Jamestown in 1607, making the first wine in the New World from indigenous grapes. It is to Thomas jefferson, however, that credit is given for importing fine French wines to his estate at Monticello (now an ava in central Virginia), and for attempting, unsuccessfully, to grow and vinify vinifera varieties. Vinifera grapes now outnumber hybrids and native grapes by almost 4 : 1. Chardonnay and the red Bordeaux varieties do exceptionally well, and interesting wines are also made from Norton, Touriga Nacional, Tannat, Petit Verdot, Viognier and Petit Manseng. The growing season is warm and humid so growers have to guard against fungal diseases by careful selection of site and variety, canopy management, and spraying regimes. The total number of wineries increased from 6 in 1979 to more than 200 by 2014. Six other AVAs are Virginia’s Eastern Shore, influenced by the Chesapeake bay; Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace in northern Virginia close to the ready market of Washington, DC; Shenandoah Valley (not to be confused with the California AVA) bounded by the Allegheny mountains to the west, the Blue Ridge mountains to the east, the James river to the south, and the Potomac river to the north; North Fork of Roanoke; Rocky Knob in southwest Virginia, and the newest, Middleburg, 50 miles west of Washington, DC.