Virginia is rich with history, so it’s no surprise that the practice of winemaking in the Commonwealth dates back to 1609, when the earliest settlers of Jamestown planted vines in an attempt to produce a cash crop utilizing the vital soils of the New World.
But the journey to great vino didn’t happen overnight, and like a true American success story, Virginia wines overcame several disheartening failures over a 400 year span to become one of America’s leading wine producers. Today, the Commonwealth’s quality wines earn the respect of great winemakers and sommeliers all around the world, and with over 280 wineries, Virginia ranks as the 5th largest winemaking state in the nation. But Virginia’s first vintages and those to come for nearly 300 years were far from the respected quality of Virginia wines today.
Three distinct failures marked the Virginia wine industry since its inception. Early colonists, commissioned European winemakers, and even Thomas Jefferson, one of the most accomplished Americans, encountered difficulties that stalled the early settler’s plans to establish wine-making grapes as a cash crop in the New World. These failures and other significant roadblocks never deterred the spirit of innovation and drive to make Virginia a successful wine country, but rather pushed the Virginia wine industry to try again each time. Read More.