“Virginia is for Lovers” has actually long been the state’s tourist tagline but, wine lovers? With its lavish, rolling hills in the Shenandoah Valley and sparkling waters along with its seaside areas, Virginia is absolutely the location for love and wine lovers too. Nevertheless, what most may not understand is that Virginia is an excellent state for food and wine enthusiasts until actually traveling to the beautiful state. While some locations in the state are getting nationwide acknowledgment for their culinary achievements, there are a variety of other areas that may be a surprise when it pertains to “wining and dining” in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Virginia Vineyards on the Rise
Leading Virginia Food Towns
In Arlington, a surrounding commuter city of Washington, District of Columbia, you’ll discover a growing food scene. With its close distance to the country’s capital, it’s not surprising that the city has a varied choice of worldwide casual and high-end dining areas. More south and closer to the coast, Richmond, Virginia, has likewise just recently amassed nationwide interest for its significant chefs, brand-new dining establishments, and craft breweries. Its place is perfect for access to fresh seafood from the coast along with local farmers providing seasonal fruit and vegetables, meats, and poultry to the region’s chefs.
It might come as a surprise that Virginia includes the fifth-largest growing wine area in the nation. The very first European grapes planted for production were presented in Virginia about 40 years earlier. Today there are around 4,000 acres of vineyards and 300 wineries in 9 wine areas extending from northern Virginia, through main Virginia and the Charlottesville location, and as far west as the Kentucky line in Appalachia, and also along the sandy coasts on the Chesapeake Bay and Virginia’s Eastern Coast.
A few of the acclaimed and best-known wines are produced in the Charlottesville area, where Thomas Jefferson initially attempted his hand at winemaking in the early 1800s. While his efforts were not successful (Monticello never ever produced even one bottle of wine in Thirty Years of grape-growing), he would be delighted to see (and taste) the neighboring plantation of his good friend James Barbour (Virginia governor at that time), skilled winemakers effectively brought Italian viticulture to the old Barbour estate, Barboursville Vineyards.
Gabriele Rausse, widely acknowledged as the “Father of Virginia Wines” turned Barboursville in 1976 into one of a variety of ever-growing remarkable and acclaimed winemakers in Virginia producing varietals such as Petit Verdot, Viognier, Cabernet Franc, Petit Manseng, and Bordeaux blends. The list continues to grow as the winemakers imitate growing conditions in Bordeaux and Burgundy by planting vines in rocky soils on windy hillsides, which permit drain and air blood circulation around the grapes, and by discovering approaches to handle the unforeseeable environment in the area. Barboursville (in addition to a variety of other wineries in Virginia) likewise provides exceptional dining, cooking classes, and lodgings on their estates.
Virginia Oyster Trail
Another cooking gem in the state is the Virginia oyster. Not brand-new to seafood production in Virginia, however brand-new to the state’s cooking tourist focus in the seaside area, is the Virginia Oyster Trail.
Oyster farming has actually long been vital in keeping the vulnerable environment along Virginia’s shoreline and in the Chesapeake Bay. For generations, these oystermen have carried on the family traditions. Virginia is the biggest manufacturer of oysters on the East Coast and has named eight (8) well-defined areas, the newest addition to the Trail, Tangier Island, positioned off of the town of Onancock on the Eastern Coast of Virginia.
In the wine world, the tastes moved to the grapes from the soil where they’re grown are referred to as Terrior. In the oyster world, the tastes of the beds and waters are moved to the oyster as it grows. Each area imparts a distinctly distinct taste from the others and is revealed as merroir.
With the current concentrate on all things cooking, Virginia has actually partnered with regional oystermen and watermen, and other agri-artisans to provide special tasting experiences integrated with oyster-centered trips. On these trips, visitors can learn more about and taste the extremely unique tastes of the eight (8) water areas where the oysters are grown. Synergistically, some of these tastings are coupled with local wines. This is America’s very first “Oyster Trail” and oyster tastings are every bit as academic and tasty as the more known wine tasting tours.
And while on the Eastern Coast of Virginia, check out among the wineries on the Oyster Trail with quite possibly the world’s only Kayak Winery combo trip. Leaving from the small town of Bayford on the Chesapeake Bay, the trip takes you to historical Chatham Vineyards in Machipongo, Virginia. Please exercise extreme caution while drinking and paddling!
After paddling a mile along the stunning Chesapeake Bay, your efforts are rewarded with a wine tasting and choice of Chatham Vineyard wines. Do not miss the chance to sample their incredibly popular Church Creek Chardonnay, the ideal dry and crisp wine to accompany the area’s briny, velvety, buttery, and, depending upon where they’re grown, often sweet oysters.
Merroir and Terroir
There’s absolutely nothing more romantic than the marital relationship of wine and oysters and Virginia’s Eastern Coast Wine & Saltwater integrates the two (2) cooking gems with celebratory oyster roasts, barbecues, and celebrations throughout November. Including wines from regional Chatham Vineyards and oysters collected from surrounding waters, it’s the best time to take a trip to Virginia and experience the charming seaside towns of Onancock and Cape Charles, and take in this up-and-coming cooking seaside location.
Yes, Virginia is for Food and Wine Lovers!
With its gorgeous landscapes, seventeen (17) unique wine tracks, and the only Oyster Trail (that we know of) in the nation, a journey to the Commonwealth of Virginia must be high up on any travel guide’s itinerary. Cheers!