Erin Scala

Once their newly planted vineyard becomes established, Jonathan Baird and Mariana Bell plan to make wine under their own label at Keswick’s Beacon Tree Vineyard.
Image: John Robinson

Soil boom: Keswick’s Beacon Tree Vineyard sets down roots

In the spirit of a barn-raising, friends from around the country gathered to help at a vineyard planting party. It was April of this year, and the crowd came armed with s’mores, guitars, babies, potato salad, and sunscreen. Once tents were pitched in a neighboring field, I trekked through a patch of woods to get […]

Dennis Horton and his wife, Sharon, with their Viognier vines at the Horton Vineyards property in January 2015. Photo by Erin Scala

Dennis Horton was an innovative pioneer for Virginia wine

Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards died June 19 at age 73, but his enduring vision for Virginia wine lives on. Horton helped shape a generation of winemakers by introducing them to now-iconic Virginia wines made from Viognier, Norton, Rkatsiteli, Tannat grapes and more. In a 2016 article about Horton Vineyards, Horton referenced his “willingness to confront […]

Bill Curtis of Tastings has long been a champion of Oregon wines, in particular the wines made by Michael Etzel of Beaux Frères winery. Photo by Amy Jackson

Oregon wine’s enduring relationship with Virginia

In most wine shops and restaurants in Virginia, you’ll find an excellent Oregon wine selection—one that locals may take for granted. But Virginia’s high-quality Oregon wine niche is no accident, it’s driven by a core group of passionate people. Though Oregon’s pre-Prohibition wine history dates back to the 1840s, today’s winemakers put down roots in […]

Photo: Lora Kelley

Worth the wait: An orphan amber Pinot gets a second life

It all began with a little generosity from Mother Nature. “We had a Pinot Gris block come in heavier than expected,” says Joy Ting, enologist and project manager at Michael Shaps Wineworks. “Since the excess had not been slated for a specific wine, and it was early in harvest, we realized we had the time […]

Honah Lee Vineyard’s mountaintop location produces “lush and plump” fruit, including viognier and petit manseng, that is increasingly coveted by winemakers. Photo by Haley Jones

Magic is being made with Honah Lee Vineyard’s grapes

When Vera Preddy and her late husband, Wayne, purchased their property on Gibson Mountain in 1985, they never imagined they’d end up in the wine business. Their 150-acre farm was once part of Windholme Farm, and when they moved onto their parcel, they christened it Honah Lee, after the idyllic place described in the 1960s […]

A 30-some-acre spot on the top of Veritas Vineyards’ “saddleback” contains viognier and cabernet franc. It’s the first site, says winemaker Emily Pelton, with “considerable elevation and gorgeous aspect.” Photo courtesy of Stephen Barling.

The sweet spot: Zeroing in on special vineyard sites

Several decades into Virginia’s booming post-Prohibition wine economy, we are starting to home in on some special vineyard sites throughout the state. In France, you’ll find heavily protected and coveted grand cru and premier cru sites; in other wine-centric countries you’ll find similar infrastructures protecting the best vineyards. What sites are emerging as Virginia’s equivalent […]

Linden Vineyard’s founder Jim Law has been making Virginia wine since the 1980s and consulting with other growers for just as long. Photo courtesy of subject

Drink it up: A look at the impressive wines in NoVa

Here in Charlottesville, there’s great enthusiasm for our local wines. The Monticello AVA (American Viticultural Area) loyalty is so hyper-local, in fact, it’s easy to forget there are wineries in other parts of the state. This week, I put down my glass of Crosé to explore another Virginia wine region: Northern Virginia, nicknamed NoVa. If […]

Vineyard consultant Chris Hill has a long view of local agriculture that he hopes will see the food production sub-economy meet Virginia’s wine success. “I love the marrying of local food and local wine,” he says. “It’s so simple. In the end it’s just all about food, and I consider wine a food.” Photo courtesy of subject.

Grapegrower Chris Hill’s essential contribution to Virginia wine

“We dodged a bullet,” says vineyard consultant Chris Hill, as he tucks his hand through a grapevine thicket, revealing a cluster of grapes. He suspects the previous day’s rain may have damaged the fruit set, but the bunches look much better than anticipated. The canopy, lush with precipitation, shines a vibrant green, and hungry tendrils […]

Ankida Ridge. Photo: Courtesy Ankida Ridge.

The sweet spot: Zeroing in on special Virginia vineyard sites

Several decades into Virginia’s booming post-Prohibition wine economy, we are starting to home in on some special vineyard sites throughout the state. In France, you’ll find heavily protected and coveted Grand Cru and Premier Cru sites; in other wine-centric countries you’ll find similar infrastructures protecting the best vineyards. What sites are emerging as Virginia’s equivalent […]

Dr. Konstantin Frank learned his craft at ancient wineries in (then) Soviet Georgia before coming to the United States in 1951. Once here, he advocated for the plantings of the Vitis vinifera grape varietals that dominate our current wine business.
Courtesy of Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery.

The East Coast revival is a boon for Virginia wine

The Virginia wine scene exists within a larger post-Prohibition wine revival sweeping across the United States. Before Prohibition, the East Coast had a thriving wine trade. But following the 1920 constitutional ban on alchohol, only a few wineries remained standing, such as New York’s Brotherhood Winery (in operation since 1839), which produced sacramental wine to […]

Bottling under his new label, Jake Busching Wines, gives the local winemaker an opportunity to use his vast experience in Virginia’s vineyards. Photo courtesy subject

Jake Busching’s new label raises the stakes for Virginia wine

It was while working at Jefferson Vineyards that Jake Busching had his aha wine moment. His epiphany, the Jefferson Vineyards 1998 cabernet franc made by Michael Shaps, remains a true bellwether for Virginia wine—“That’s the one that hooked me,” Busching says. Once he made the connection in his mind between place and flavor, a soil-based […]

(From left): Horton Vineyards' sparkling Viognier, Early Mountain Vineyards' Pétillant Naturel, King Family Vineyards' orange Viognier, Lovingston Winery's Pinotage, Stinson Vineyards' Rkatsiteli.

K&F: Oenology obscura: Virginia’s new wave of unique, experimental wines

Virginia’s wine identity orbits around Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Bordeaux-style blends. Increasingly, however, winemakers are pushing the boundaries of possibility and bottling some unique wines. Part of the new fascination with experimentation, says winemaker Jake Busching, is driven by a desire to learn more about getting well-suited grapes planted on the right sites and learning […]

How does 2016 measure up to previous vintages? “In short,” Michael Shaps Wineworks production manager and enologist Joy Ting says, “2016 was pretty typical for Virginia, with all the challenges and surprises that entails.” Photo by Tom McGovern

Chardonnay and petit verdot lead the 2016 vintage report

This is a good time to catch up with winemakers about the 2016 vintage, a year marked by frost events early in the season, and rain near the red grape harvest. By now, ferments have finished and some wines are in barrel or bottle. Wineries have a good idea about how their 2016s are tasting. […]

With years of wine experience, Melissa Boardman brings exciting choices to the lists at Keswick Hall. Photo by Amy Jackson

Melissa Boardman gets ahead of the latest wine trend

Local sommelier Melissa Boardman is about to celebrate one year at Keswick Hall, and she’s used that time to build up a dynamic wine program. She organizes several wine lists: a grand list for the hall, a members-only list, a by-the-glass list for the villa and another by-the-glass list for Fossett’s restaurant. She has continued […]

Last month’s Amherst wildfires came within 30 feet of consuming Ankida Ridge Vineyards. “The miracle is that not one home was lost, no injuries,” says Christine Vrooman. Photos courtesy Ankida Ridge Vineyards

Ankida Ridge survives a threat to vine and home

In the darkness of night on Saturday, November 19, Christine Vrooman of Ankida Ridge Vineyards looked out her bedroom window and noticed a fire on the southwest face of Mount Pleasant. From the comfort of her bed, the unnerving scene did not seem to be an immediate threat to her home, her winery or her […]

Virginia Tech professor Tony Wolf’s experiments and monitoring of Virginia terroir have an ongoing influence on our region’s winemakers. Courtesy of Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech’s impact on what, where and when to grow

You’ll often find a university at the epicenter of many of the world’s great wine regions. Learning institutions help drive and fund research and increase wine quality. Since 1905, the University of California, Davis has conducted vine and wine research just outside of Sacramento. Its findings have had an immeasurable impact on winemaking in Napa […]

Horton Vineyards has brought a wealth of unique grape varieties to our area. Winemaker Michael Heny points to norton, pinotage, petit manseng, viognier, touriga nacional and tannat as some of his favorite grapes to grow.  Photo by Rammelkamp Foto

Horton Vineyards adds variety to Virginia wine scene

At Horton Vineyards, you’ll find some of the most important vines in Virginia. On my first visit to see them —back in January 2015—a wind ripped through the dormant vines and stung my cheeks. I wrapped my scarf tighter and scribbled notes with numb fingers, trying not to miss a single detail. I was on […]

Robert Harllee of Market Street Wineshops has watched an increase in Virginia wine sales at his various locations. Photo by Martyn Kyle

New momentum has Virginia winemakers racing to meet demand

As Virginia’s tobacco industry wanes, the food and wine sector builds momentum. With more than 80 cheesemakers in the state, an intense focus on sustainability at farms such as Polyface, Free Union Grass, Radical Roots and Wolf Creek, and a large, passionate beverage industry, the state is poised to contribute a unique chapter to America’s […]

Luca Paschina sets his sights on a bianco version of Barboursville's highly regarded Octagon label. Photo: Amy Jackson

Ribolla gialla and the prospects of an Octagon bianco

I heard about a patch of ribolla gialla vines in Barboursville, and I had to go and see them to find out what was happening with these special grapes. Luca Paschina, the winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards, first tasted wine made from ribolla gialla about 30 years ago. “It was the mid-1980s in Italy, and I was […]

Emily Pelton is one of the founding members of the Virginia Winemaker’s Research Exchange, a group making an impact on the future of wine. Photo: Eric Kelley

Local winemakers forge a groundbreaking research exchange

The idea for a research exchange sparked when a few local winemakers gathered to share their bottles and ideas. For the first couple of years, the group included Kirsty Harmon (Blenheim), Emily Pelton (Veritas), Matthieu Finot (King Family), Ben Jordan (Early Mountain), Scott Dwyer (Pollak), Jake Busching (Michael Shaps), Michael Heny (Horton) and Stephen Barnard […]