Wine has been produced in the state of Virginia since the early days of colonization, wine back in the mid 18th century so it is not surprising that this burgeoning industry continues to go from strength to strength today. In fact, this state is now the fifth largest producer of wines in the USA and as a result the area attracts many tourists to its many wineries who wish to taste the multitude of high caliber wines that the region has to offer. Last year, there were around 3,000 acres of land under cultivation for this purpose and this produced a harvest of over 7,500 tons thanks in part to Virginia’s climate in particular the hot humid summers that make ideal conditions for grape production. The central and northern parts of the state, east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, are responsible for most of what the state produces in this field so if you are visiting the Centreville area a visit to at least one of its local wineries is a must to taste these wines and find out more about the process involved in making them.
The top five wines produced in the region are Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Vidal Blanc and Viognier with French hybrids accounting for about 20% of the market, while the American varieties only account for 5%. While the area has been successfully producing wine for several 100 years, it was in the early 1900’s that the state first developed its reputation for producing fine wines thanks to, Charlottesville’s Monticello Wine Company which was responsible for the Virginia Claret Wine which became so well renowned that it led to the city asserting itself as the “Capital of the Wine Belt in Virginia.” However it was with an investment from the Zonin family, who were of Italian descent that the industry really took off in the 1970’s when they set up the Barboursville Vineyards that served as a mechanism for the industry’s rebirth in 1976. Many other wineries and vineyards followed suit in the 80’s and 90’s and by 2012 there were 230 operating wineries in the state of Virginia most of which were small family run businesses that would come to rely on the rapidly developing wine tourism that was attracting connoisseurs from all over the country.
To help attract this business which formed a large part of the revenue alongside direct sales both nationally and internationally, a lot of the wineries hold regular special events and annual festivals with wine tasting, food, entertainment and other activities on top of the wine tours themselves. One of the most popular wineries is the Bull Run Winery close to the heart of Centreville, on Lee Highway which has the added attraction go being situated on what was previously a Civil War Battlefield. The 868 Estate Vineyards is another favorite as it combines one of the state’s most spectacular locations with exceptional wines and a fine dining experience. This is located on Harpers Ferry Road, Purcellville and is open to the general public Wednesday to Sunday from 11-6 and weekends 11-7. Private tours can be arranged for Mondays and Tuesdays which are reserved for appointments only.