The state’s grape harvest increased by 25 percent last year, according to news from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. That brings total harvest to 7,000 tons, the seventh highest in the nation. Some 3,000 acres are devoted to grape production, with Chardonnay being the number one grape followed by Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Thirty years ago, according to VDACS, a mere 286 acres were devoted to grape production.
The current grape acreage represents a 7.5 percent increase over 2007 levels, when 2,790 acres were planted. In 2006, the number was 2,680. Chardonnay remains the top varietal even as acreage increases and that comes as no surprise. Chardonnay is one of the most planted grapes in the world, growing in more regions than any other. There are two reasons for this: the ease with which it grows and the ease with which it sells. Cabernet Franc and Merlot have been second and third respectively for the last several years as well.