Grab your glasses: October is ‘Virginia Wine Month’

FILE — Grapes are seen among rows of vines at Barboursville Vineyards in Barboursville, Va., on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2007. Wines from vintners in Virginia are drawing favorable attention and holding their own against products from more established regions, which has led the state to focus on growing wine tourism. (AP Photo/Michael Felberbaum, file)

WASHINGTON — The 30th annual “Virginia Wine Month” launches this month to toast the commonwealth’s winemaking with special events and festivals.

Besides the different celebrations throughout October, the governor’s office also announced the start of the “harvest party,” hosted at various Virginia wineries and restaurants to revel in this season’s harvest.

“Virginia’s unique landscape, along with the passion of its winemakers, have helped establish the commonwealth as a wine destination unlike any other,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a news release Monday. “A glass of wine is so much more than a beverage — the character of a wine reflects both the place where it was grown and the people who make it.”

Though perhaps not as instantly recognizable as California’s Napa Valley, Virginia’s wine history stretches back to the early 1600s, when European settlers first cultivated their vines in the challenging growing region. 

But the commonwealth’s grape growers and winemakers have persevered and still face challenges today. This season, the wet weather that has bombarded the region over the months has created yet another test for vines. Since too much water brings the risk of spoilage, Virginia growers have adapted their best practices that drier states, such as California, may not have to follow.

Brian Roeder, owner Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, told WTOP back in August that for starters, there’s “a lot more canopy management to begin with.”

Growers in Virginia “really are battling all of the elements,” winemaker and vineyard manager Katie Henley of Casanel Vineyards and Winery in Leesburg, also told WTOP in August. Because of the region’s humidity, vineyards have to look out for mold and fungus growth.

“Creating a Virginia wine is a unique opportunity to show the world that yes, it’s tough to grow here on the East Coast,” Henley said. “But, when everything clicks, and there’s dryness, and not as much humidity, years like 2010, 2007, 2014, you can make some really beautifully expressive wines that do stand up nationally and internationally.”

Find a list of upcoming events for Virginia Wine Month on Virginia Wine’s website, where you can also download an app if you really want to do a deep-dive into the commonwealth’s wineries.

WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report. 


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