Oakencroft Vineyard and Winery, the oldest winery in Albemarle County, and the closest to Charlottesville, is closing. Felicia Rogan, who founded the winery in 1983, made the announcement today via a press release. Just 10 days ago, Oakencroft marked its 25th anniversary on May 26th with almost 300 people attending a celebration at the winery.
It is no exaggeration to say that without the efforts of Felicia Rogan, the Virginia wine industry would not be where it is today. In 1985 she was elected the first Chairman of the Virginia Wine Grape Growers Advisory Board. She founded the Jeffersonian Wine Grape Growers Society, and as its Chairman for 26 years, helped create the Monticello AVA, its accompanying website and the Monticello October Wine Festival. In 2000, the Chamber of Commerce named Rogan the “Small Business Person of the Year,” and in 2005 the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitor’s Bureau gave her their "Annual Tourism Appreciation Award." In 1995 she was given an award for “Outstanding Achievement for Support of The Wine Industry” by the state of Virginia.
Speaking last weekend in advance of the news, Rogan told how she founded Oakencroft with the support of her late husband, John Rogan, who gave her the land, converting an old cowshed into the winery building. When asked why she was closing shop she said, “I just felt that at this time in my life I wanted to retire and do other things. I am a freelance writer and have written several books and I’d like to spend more time doing that and simplify my life.” But don’t count her out entirely. “Just because I’m closing Oakencroft,” she added, “doesn’t mean that I’m going to relinquish some sort of supportive role in helping the industry which I was so involved in, in the beginning.” Although the land has been sold, it is in conservation easement. The new owners, Rogan said, may opt to continue growing grapes but are not looking to get into the wine business.
Turn to C-VILLE’s wine column, The Working Pour next week for a full interview with “The First Lady of Virginia Wine.”
Felicia Rogan’s impending departure from the industry with the closing of her Oakencroft Vineyard and Winery officially ushers in the era of Virginia Wine 2.0.