Viva Virginia Varietals!

by | Jan 1, 2023

grapes on vine

5 Essential Virginia Grapes to Know
1. Norton America’s oldest wine grape was first cultivated in Richmond by Dr. Daniel Norton in the 1820s and today is grown and produced extensively at Chrysalis Vineyards in Middleburg. This blue-purple grape produces intensely colored, fruit-forward, age-worthy red wines that pair well with smoked/grilled meats, wild game or rockfish.
2. Petit Verdot Known traditionally as a blending grape for Bordeaux-style wines, petit verdot has come into its own as a stand-alone varietal; producing dark, boozy, boldly tannic wines that are perfect for a winter night.
3. Petit Manseng This small, thick-skinned golden grape grows in loose clusters that thrive in Virginia’s humid, wet weather and resist rot. It makes distinctive dry white wines that evoke candied fruit and pineapple; as well as fine dessert wines when harvested late in the season.
4. Viognier This hard-to-grow varietal put Virginia viticulture on the map, as it expresses itself beautifully in our long, hot summers. It produces an aromatic white wine that gives off a sweet perfume of orange blossoms and honeysuckle but actually drinks dry to off-dry.
5. Cabernet Franc Virginia’s most planted varietal, cab franc is the genetic parent of both cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and it’s often blended with those varietals in Bordeaux-style wines. On its own, it is light-to-medium bodied, ranges from spicy and peppery to soft and juicy, and is known as one of Virginia’s best reds.

10 Grapes to Discover in Virginia
1. Vidal Blanc A complex, winter-hardy, hybrid grape that can be made into crisp, dry white wines as well as sweeter late-harvest and ice wines.
2. Albariño A Spanish grape that is usually made into a single-varietal wine that’s highly aromatic and acidic, dry, and best drank young.
3. Nebbiolo An Italian grape that produces highly tannic, highly acidic wines with floral and smoky aromatics; complex, earthy flavors; and a distinctive brick-orange color.
4. Tannat A French varietal that became Uruguay’s national grape, tannat is often produced in Virginia as a single-varietal wine with berry and spice notes, lots of tannins, and a smoky character.
5. Seyval Blanc A cool-climate, early-ripening, French-American hybrid that can produce everything from dry, citrusy white wines to buttery, oaked expressions to sparkling bruts.
6. Chambourcin A productive, disease-resistant grape with red juice and purple skin that produces a dark, dry wine with herbal aromas.
7. Traminette A cold-hardy hybrid grape developed in the 1960s and made into sweet wines similar to its parent, gewürztraminer.
8. Rkatsiteli Originating in the country of Georgia, it’s one of the oldest grape varietals in the world and can produce everything from dry white table wines to sherries and ports.
9. Fer A red grape from southwest France, fer servadou (or just fer) is grown in Virginia primarily at Hillsborough Vineyards and produces a medium-bodied wine with earthy flavors and berry notes.
10. Vermentino An Italian varietal grown primarily at Barboursville for their award-winning medium-bodied white wine reminiscent of grapefruit and green apples.

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