Virginia wine refers to wine made primarily from grapes grown in the U.S. state of Virginia. Wine has been produced in the area since the early days of European colonization in the 17th century. Virginia has hot humid summers that can be challenging to viticulture, and only within the last twenty years has the industry developed beyond novelty status. By tonnage, Vitis vinifera varieties represents 75% of total production. French hybrids varieties account for nearly 20% of total wine grape production in the state, while American varietals make up only about 5% of the total. As of 2012, the top 5 varietals produced are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Vidal blanc and Viognier.
As of 2012, the state has approximately 3,000 acres (12 km2) under cultivation, with a total harvest of over 7,500 tons. The state ranks fifth in the nation for both bearing acreage and grape production. The central and northern Virginia counties, in particular those located just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, account for the significant majority of the state's production.
The rebirth was led in part by the investment of the Zonin family of Italy in a new vineyard in Barboursville in 1976. Barboursville Vineyards served as a catalyst in the 1970s, alongside the now defunct Oakencroft Vineyards. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, many other vineyards and wineries joined the mix and by 2009, over 163 wineries were operating in Virginia. By 2012 there were over 230 wineries operating in Virginia. Almost all of these are small, family-owned vineyards and wineries, and only the very largest have developed distribution networks. As a result, the wineries rely on wine tourism and direct sales for most of their revenue. To encourage visitors, they often play host to special events with music, food, and other activities. As Virginia wines sold in Virginia have the requirement that the majority of the grapes used must be grown in Virginia, and since Virginia is not growing enough grapes to support the number of wineries, one Floyd County winery has expanded its operation in a five-year contract to export its wines to China. Chateau Morrisette, with the help of Governor Bob McDonnell's office, will be exporting its Merlot to China, and plans to add other wines later.
In Charlottesville, the Monticello Wine Company, operating with grapes grown by co-op members, won a major international award in 1873 at the Vienna Exposition for a “Virginia claret” based on Norton.
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