• psst … I’m a Realtor! Thanks for stopping by my website. I would love to help you find your dream home and community in the Hampton Roads or Williamsburg area or to sell your existing home. This website is authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of Hampton Roads and the historic triangle, and his expertise in the local real estate market. His websites, WilliamsburgsRealEstate.com and Mr Williamsburg.com were created as a resource for folks who are exploring a move to Williamsburg, VA , Hampton Roads VA and the surrounding areas of the Virginia Peninsula. On his website you can search homes for sale , foreclosures, 55+ active adult communities, condos and town homes , land and commercial property for sale in Williamsburg, Yorktown, New Kent, Poquoson, and Gloucester, VA as well as surrounding markets of Carrolton, Chesapeake,Gloucester, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth Mathews, Newport News Norfolk, Poquoson, Smithfield, , Suffolk, Surry, Va Beach, Yorktown and York County Virginia You can reach John by email John@MrWilliamsburg.com or phone @ 757-254-813

Virginia Wineries

Ingleside Vineyards, is one of a handful of wineries whose opening in the 1970s signaled the rebirth of Virginia’s  wine industry. 30 years later, Ingleside and scores of other winemakers across the state of Virginia  are making wines good enough to make Thomas Jefferson — (a noted connoisseur of the fermented grape but a failure as a grapes-grower) — smile and, no doubt, raise a glass.

October 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of Virginia Wine Month and wine lovers and wine connoisseurs everywhere are ready to celebrate at nearly 60 special events across the state!

Wine Month is a perfect time to visit Virginia as the wine harvest and over 15 million acres of fall foliage are at their peak. With more than 130 wineries and wine trails that reach across the state, it is easy to “Find the One You Love!” this October in Virginia.

For more travel ideas, check out 20 Ways to Celebrate 20 Years of Virginia Wine Month, and get ready to discover new wine passions in Virginia.

The Virginia wine industry  was nonexistent in the early 1970s . Now an estimated eight to 10 new wineries come online each year, according to the Virginia Wine Board.

Grapes ranked 15th in the state among all crops last year in terms of harvested acreage. Nationally, Virginia is the seventh-largest producer of wine, and its reputation is gaining. More than 50 Virginia wineries regularly compete and win their share of awards in national competitions, such as the American Wine Society, where James River Cellars Winery of Glen Allen took home three prizes in 2007.

Virginia wines are sold around the nation, in states such as New York, Florida, Texas and California, and a few are distributed in England. Exact figures aren’t available as to what percentage of Virginia wines are sold outside the state, but the Virginia Wine Board said more by far are sold in Virginia.

Virginia offers a combination of a few real good wines and a lot of wineries with perfectly good wines, and a tourism infrastructure which makes time spent there really pleasurable.

Despite its status as a relative newcomer on the national stage, Virginia has a long history of wine making.

In the 1600s at Jamestown, all male heads of households, under threat of punishment, were ordered to cultivate 20 grapevines each, although disease and pests torpedoed the effort.

Jefferson famously — and unsuccessfully, without the benefit of modern pesticides and growing techniques — spent decades trying to grow numerous varieties of imported grapes in hopes of stocking his extensive wine cellar at Monticello.

Eventually, winemaking did succeed in Virginia, which for a time was the biggest wine producer in the United States until it was left in ruins by the Civil War.

Grape-growing rebounded, but it was wiped out again by Prohibition. It wasn’t until the 1970s that it got going again.

Carl Flemer of  Ingleside  , a longtime dairy farmer on the family’s 3,000-acre estate in Westmoreland County on the highest piece of land on the Northern Neck, became enchanted with wines on his annual trips to Europe. For fun, he came home and planted grapes in the 1970s and made small batches of wine for his own enjoyment. The wine was so good, however, that friends were always asking for bottles for special occasions.

He gave away so much of it,  that he figured he might as well start selling it.

Doug Flemer spent a month in Europe learning what he could about winemaking and then came home to get to work. By sheer good fortune, while Doug Flemer was away, his father had made the acquaintance of an actual winemaker, Jacques Recht, who was visiting from Europe and agreed to stay for three weeks to help.

Recht wound up staying 13 years as Ingleside’s winemaker and saved the Flemers, who now produce 15,000 cases of wine a year, a lot of trial-and-error experimentation.

Just the same, there was a lot of trial and error at Ingleside and other wineries around Virginia anyway, mostly in terms of figuring out which variety of grapes would thrive in the state’s climate. People such as Gabriele Rausse, an Italian winemaker who shepherded the young industry through its early days, helped launch Barboursville Vineyards and later revived Jefferson’s dream of growing grapes and producing wine at Monticello.

Virginia’s humidity, rain and occasional temperature extremes still cause grape-growers heartburn, but overall the state is fortunate in its location, said Tony Wolf, the state viticulturist. It’s south enough to usually avoid grape-damaging cold and north enough to usually avoid bacteria that thrive in warmer areas.

The state also has benefited from a political climate that has supported grape-growing and wine making with a statewide marketing operation and research through Virginia Tech, he said.

. . .

Vineyards and wineries can be found from the Eastern Shore to the farthest reaches of Southwest Virginia, including the immediate Richmond area (Woodland Vineyard in Chesterfield County and James River Cellars). But the largest numbers are clustered north and west of Richmond, along the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Favorable climate is one reason for the clustering in those areas, but demographics is just as important, Wolf said.

Those areas are rich in beauty and history and are not far from major highways and population centers. Some wineries have become destinations in themselves: Barboursville offers suites and a world-class restaurant, Palladio, while Williamsburg Winery offers a boutique hotel, Wedmore Place in Williamasburg VA.

Virginia ranks eighth nationally for wine tourism, according to the Travel Industry of America. Three percent of all trips to Virginia include a winery or wine festival, making it comparable to camping, boating and golf, according to Virginia Tourism Corp., which also notes that visitors who include a Virginia winery on their trip spend more than twice as much per person as the average traveler — $299 per person compared with $129.

There’s a romance associated with growing grapes and making wine, but those in the business are at the mercy of weather, much like farmers of any other crops.

Early on, many wineries started like Ingleside as mom-and-pop operations, as Doug Flemer called them. These days, some newer wineries open with a bigger splash. New Kent Winery, a 12,000-square-foot structure built with historic materials, opened this year, a focal point of the $1.5 billion New Kent Vineyards ( Viniterra) planned community.

Woodland Vineyard, on Genito Road in Chesterfield, represents a different approach to wine-making. Billed as the smallest farm winery in the state, it features a half-acre of different varieties of grapes in what amounts to the side yard of the home belonging to Melissa Jeltema and her husband, Eric Gretenhart. By comparison, Kluge Estate Vineyard in Charlottesville, believed to be the state’s largest, has 250 acres planted in grapes.

The couple took classes in grape-growing and planted vines in 1997 with the idea of developing a hobby for their retirement. They opened for business in 2004.

They make 200 cases of wine each year in their backyard winery, a glorified shed filled with wooden barrels, steel tanks and cardboard boxes. The tasting room, open to the public on weekends and by appointment on weekdays, is on the side of their home and used to be their living room and dining room.

They recently planted an additional acre of grapes on a piece of land in Amelia County, with the idea of expanding.

This time of year — with harvesting and wine making in full swing — tests the nerves and patience of everyone in the business and has them questioning whether this is such a good idea. But there are moments when those doubts fade.

Click here to see a short video on Virginia Wine

Clcik here to see a short video  about Luca Paschina a passionate third generation winemaker and the general manager of Barboursville Vineyards and Palladio Restaurant in Barboursville , VA near Orange. He has carefully nursed the vineyard from 38 acres of grapes to 160; 40,000 cases of wine are produced each year.

Click here to see wine tours on the VA Tourism website

VA Wineries Map

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