Glass and bottle of wine with bunches of green and purple grapes
What Makes Virginia's Wine Region Distinct From Any Other
When you think of wine regions, Virginia may not top the list, but the region has a thriving wine industry that is more unique than any other in the United States.
Rather than housing a wine region, the entire 23 million acres that make up the state of Virginia are a thriving, verdant wine region, making it a unique wine-producing zone.
This is what makes Virginia so unique: It is utterly enormous and ecologically diverse. While there's no one wine or grape specific to Virginia, there is amazing variety.
After 400 years of experimentation, a brief moment of colossal success came in the 1800s when Dr. Daniel Norton developed the Norton grape.
The Norton grape was a crossbreed of native Virginian grapes with sensitive European grapes, resulting in a wine grape that could weather the state’s climate, soil, and pests.
With the Norton grape, Virginia found brief success as the world’s fifth-largest wine producer in the world, but when Prohibition was enacted, the Norton grape was decimated.
By the 1970s, Virginian vintners began experimenting again, with vineyards expanding from 6 to over 300 today, producing 11 varieties from Cabernet Franc to Viognier and Norton.