Virginia Wines
August 6, 2006 3:09 PM   Subscribe

The more than 100 wineries of Virginia are varied and roam the entire state from the Chesapeake Bay to the mountains and back. You can even find wine on the lake created to be a nuclear plant cooler: Lake Anna. Virginia wines are even becoming competitive with California wines. My jaunt through winery links today, though, was inspired by Ingleside Winery, a small winery, right outside my hometown.
posted by SuzySmith (20 comments total)

We have wines here in NJ too. I wouldn't recommend any of them though, but who knows some are probably good.

It's amazing how far viniculture has come recently such that people are now growing great wines in places where a generation ago we could not.
posted by caddis at 3:23 PM on August 6, 2006

I remember the good old days when California wines had a hard time being accepted. There were always articles about how California wines were competitive with French ones. Thomas Jefferson would be proud of the Virginia wines. Too bad the Monticello Winery in in Napa, CA.
posted by Eekacat at 3:49 PM on August 6, 2006

US Wine Production: Hits all 50 States:
"With the recently bonded Pointe of View winery in North Dakota, all 50 states now have at least one bonded winery."
posted by ericb at 3:51 PM on August 6, 2006

OK, that was interesting ericb.
posted by caddis at 4:01 PM on August 6, 2006

And Kansas has some of the best wines in the world, but cannot ship them due to Prohibitionist laws in the state.
posted by geoff. at 4:49 PM on August 6, 2006

100 years ago, Missouri was the #2 wine-producing state in the US. Then came Prohibition.

Oklahoma has a number of wineries, most notably Stone Bluff Cellars, southeast of Tulsa. Only recently have wineries been able to be set up in Oklahoma, mainly because of the byzantine Prohibition-era alcohol laws. You couldn't order a mixed drink from a bartender legally until 1982 (and only then in the major cities). Getting a drink in Oklahoma before then meant "private club memberships" and BYOB.

All this to say that one side of my family were into brewing their own beer, which was illegal until 1995. The beer was called choc, a fermented in bottle unfiltered wheat beer. They were busted a number of times, most recently in 1981. When I was a kid I always thought their stacks of beer bottles in their garage were part of some collection. I know better now.

My mother's cousin lobbied the state legislature to legalize brewpubs, altered the original recipe, set up some brewing equipment, and started to sell choc out of his restaurant. You can now buy a six pack at most Oklahoma convenience stores. How times change.
posted by dw at 5:20 PM on August 6, 2006

Apparently here in Kentucky they're making good wine again. They're having trouble meeting demand, though - the wineries often can't grow enough graapes to keep up, and the labels specify whether or not all the grapes were Kentucky grown.
posted by dilettante at 6:52 PM on August 6, 2006

Caddis, there are a number of NJ wineries, and some of them are suprisingly good. From where you are, there's an easy day trip to several local wineries. Free tastings, they're open on the weekends, and they make a great fall excursion. I've had decent wine from Amwell and Hopewell, and hear good things about Unionville.
posted by booksherpa at 7:53 PM on August 6, 2006

Thanks. It has been a very long time since I tasted the local product, and at that time it was truly awful. It is probably time to go back and find the ones that found out how to get it right in our climate.
posted by caddis at 8:25 PM on August 6, 2006

There are some very good small wineries in Arkansas as well.
posted by geekhorde at 9:07 PM on August 6, 2006

Siberian Cabernet
posted by caddis at 9:20 PM on August 6, 2006

These wineries - they roam?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:40 AM on August 7, 2006

I live within three miles of three Virginia wineries - Hillsborough, Breaux, and Windham (soon to be renamed Doukenie to avoid confusion) here in Loudoun County, home of AOL and Dulles Airport, and they each offer several outstanding wines, reds and whites, as well as a few dessert wines and some interesting experiments (e.g. the raspberry merlot at Windham).
posted by kcds at 4:15 AM on August 7, 2006

If commercial wine production is so widespread, how come there isn't more competition at the "Two Buck Chuck" price point? (PITA to drive to Trader Joe's)
posted by pax digita at 6:37 AM on August 7, 2006

as a long time virginia resident, i had always thought that it was best to save them for people you didn't like.
then i moved to new mexico......

virginia wine now seems not so bad.

nice post.

off topic, for all you NOVA peeps, when is it planned to secede from the rest of VA?
posted by coyote's bark at 7:03 AM on August 7, 2006

I concur on Ingleside--some friends gave us a gift certificate for them as a wedding present, and we loved their stuff. They used to have a funny web-address, but that now re-directs. Oak Crest's stuff was absolutely dreadful. We've reviewed several other VA wineries on our blog.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:37 AM on August 7, 2006

If commercial wine production is so widespread, how come there isn't more competition at the "Two Buck Chuck" price point? (PITA to drive to Trader Joe's)

To produce Two Buck Chuck, you need:
1. A cheap supply of grapes
2. A cheap or expansive production system
3. Friendly state laws towards wine

Finding a cheap supply of grapes is a problem in states without a lot of vineyards (e.g. Alabama) or no vineyards (e.g. Utah). And most states don't have the state laws you find in California or Oregon, with export bans in places like Oklahoma. And you need both of these before you can even talk about shelling out the money for a big production system.

However, with Washington about to lose its "middle-man" laws requiring that all alcohol be bought from a set of distributors at a pre-defined markup, the price of wine at Costco is about to take a tumble. And if so (it's in the courts), I think you'll see a ripple effect throughout the west.

Meanwhile, there's Gallo.
posted by dw at 8:00 AM on August 7, 2006

Virginia's wineries are excellent. Having spent a few summers in the val de la loire and the south of france, I could easily be a wine snob, but Virginia always reminds me that there's a whole lot more out there. I give props to all domestic American wine production, there's a lot to discover, and as a fan of dry reds, I think that Virginia definitely beats the (albeit few) wineries I've visited in PA, NJ and NY. But what I find interesting is the emphasis placed on the Norton varietal throughout VA, the attempt to develop a Virginia terroir I suppose. Anyways, I've got a glass of cabernet in front of me, so I'll catch y'all later. Excellent post.
posted by jrb223 at 7:48 PM on August 7, 2006

jrb223, Winemaker Magazine had a good article on Norton grapes in its June 2006 issue, saying (more-or-less) that it's the grape that grows best in this region, and that local growers really should stay away from Cabernets and Zinfandels and such and stick to someting that is more suited to this region. I kinda doubt you'll find that journal in most libraries, and the article isn't online, but it's an interesting read, if you can get ahold of it.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:17 AM on August 8, 2006

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