Virginia Wine Month concludes today. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t drink a Virginia wine each day in October, and don’t think you need to wait until next year to pull a local cork. Virginia wine month is simply the state’s annual marketing push to remind us that we have a thriving wine industry nearby.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Wine Board sponsored a celebration at Lincoln restaurant in D.C. last week. It was an interesting venue, not just because the restaurant was named for the Civil War-era Union president, but because it was on the north side of the Potomac River. I’ve always joked that Lee had trouble crossing the Potomac, and so has Virginia wine.
That is changing, as Virginia’s wines continue to improve and the locavore movement highlights local agriculture. Top D.C. restaurants such as Marcel’s and CityZen have Virginia wines on their lists. Blue Duck Tavern has an entire page devoted to Virginia on its list, and local wineries were featured this year at the Park Hyatt’s International Masters of Food and Wine event.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell joined the reception and hobnobbed with writers from National Geographic and U.S. News & World Report, along with trade journalists and several members of the group of bloggers informally known as the Virginia Wine Mafia. Wines from Barboursville, Boxwood, Breaux and Chatham vineyards were poured with abandon. McDonnell noted that sales of Virginia wine were up 13% in 2010 and 11% again this year, as the state approaches 200 wineries. The wines are well represented in London, and have been featured at wine shows in Amsterdam and Germany. McDonnell promoted them on trade missions this year to China, Korea and Japan, and will take some along this month when he visits India and Israel.
“Pretty soon the entire world will know about Virginia wines,” he said.
All in all, despite a lousy harvest, there’s much to celebrate.