Virginia is for lovers of all kinds. Is it for wine and food lovers too?
Virginia is for Lovers
Did you know that Virginia is for lovers?
The mantra is emblazoned on to every state license plate and might make you wonder whether Virginia is a honeymoon getaway.
Created as an ad campaign in 1968, the state wanted to promote Virginia as a haven for lovers of mountains, beaches, and history, of which it is has plenty.
However, is it for wine lovers too?
California vs. Virginia
I traveled there in September to escape the raging CA wildfires of the century and found the differences to be an absolute breath of fresh, non-smokey, non-Covid restricted air.
Below is a summary of my findings in tabular format.
|Northern California (Bay Area)||Northern Virginia|
|Gas price per gallon.||$3.50||$2.00|
|Price for a decent home||BARE minimum $1,000,000||$450,000|
|Public transportation||a hot mess||can't complain|
|Homeless people||too many to count||didn't see a single one|
|Streets and Roads||potholes, cracks, rarely ever paved||pitch black, smooth as butter|
|Water||drought ridden, heavy fire risk, yellow dessicated lawns||lots of rain lending to lush green landscapes|
Begging me to ask the question of why do I live in California?
Oh right, the wine.
Lower cost of living is one thing, but does Virginia have wine I can drink?
Does Virginia have wine?
Well I came to the state to visit people that don't actually drink wine.
(Not off to the best start, I know.)
I did manage to find a nearby winery, Bluemont Vineyard.
And I ended up passing by even more wineries that dot the highways leading to Shenandoah and Harpers Ferry National Parks.
When you're making people go to a winery, when they don't drink wine, naturally you look for one with a view. Because everyone loves a view.
For that reason, Bluemont Vineyard is just the picturesque type of one you would want to visit, that also had U-Pick apple farms nearby. (Virginia is the apple capital of the East Coast.)
Now, could I find anyone to give me intel about the winery besides what's for sale in the gift shop and where the bathroom is?
I'll cut my server a break because he just started working there two weeks ago. And anyone having to work a job serving the public under masked Covid conditions should be put on several pedestals.
And that is what Google is for, isn't it? So you don't have to actually talk to people for information?
Since I have zero insight to share with you aside from my pretty pictures, let's discuss the what makes Virginia wine unique.
Unusual grape varietals
Virginia is making headlines for their production of unusual grape varietals, including Chambourcin and Petit Manseng.
Chambourcin is a French American hybrid grape commercialized in 1963. With a bright red color and minimal tannins, it shines with bright red fruit, high acid, and slight herb notes.
Petit Manseng is a native French grape that has a light lemongrass and woodsy flavor.
Pair with Guacamole
I lugged home a bottle of Chambourcin and Petit Manseng and found them to be incredibly versatile with food.
They could stride alongside any flavor profile you throw at them: spicy, sweet, or savory.
Most importantly, they both paired with guacamole beautifully, a fait accompli for a difficult to pair nutty fruit.
For $25-$28 per bottle, I could think of many splendid CA bottles I could buy instead.
But I probably wouldn't be able to find a Chambourcin or Petit Manseng.
There is no price tag for uniquely American wines that are hard to find elsewhere.
Virginia, after all is for lovers, and love cannot be bought.
American Wine is Great
Learn more about under the radar wine regions and the food they pair with from the #winepw writers:
- Nicole from Somm's Table is Cooking to the Wine: Acquiesce Grenache Rosé with a Glazed Stuffed Pork Loin Roast.
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla says Mahalo Plenty! Hawaiian Sips and Nibbles.
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm adds Let’s Celebrate Thanksgiving by Eating and Drinking Locally.
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! brings Idiot’s Grace: Explorers in the Columbia Gorge AVA.
- David from Cooking Chat pairs Cranberry Jalapeño Dip with New England Wine.
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass suggests Raising a Glass of PA Cab Franc – Paired with a Philly Cheesesteak.
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator showcases Local Love: 6 Ventura County Wines from Local Vines paired with Watkins Beef, Ventura Fresh Fish.
- Susannah from Avvinare offers Wines from New Mexico Paired with New Mexican Style Beef Chile.
WOW! That was such a fun educational read. We've never been to Virginia. We've never thought of Virginia having such an intersting wine scene. And, we've never even heard of Chambourcin OR Petit Manseng. Now curious to try it -- wonder if we could find some here in Califonia... Thanks so much for sharing, Deanna!
Thank you Monkeys! So glad to see you could take the virtual tour with me! 🙂
Linda Whipple, CSW says
I've been up and down the beautiful Shenandoah Mountains and to several Virginia wineries, including Bluemont Beautiful!. Well worth a visit. Love your side-by-side comparison of costs - something I really appreciate as an East Coast girl transplanted to the West Coast.
That's awesome. I feel like VA is undiscovered for both its beauty and wines!
Wendy Klik says
My son lives in VA....on my next visit I think we will have to check out the wineries. Thanks
Very cool Wendy!
I lived in Charlottesville for a spell in the mid 90s and was surprised by the beauty and the wine! But I'm a California girl at heart, so that didn't last long. Glad you enjoyed your visit and the unique grape varieties.
Susannah Gold says
Deanna, It was so fun to get your take on Virginia wine. I have visited a few times with wine people so I got to see a good number of wineries and I was impressed. Yes, the price of the wines is daunting but as you say love can't be bought. I found your post hilarious at time too and I love your pairing comment. "They could stride alongside any flavor profile you throw at them: spicy, sweet, or savory." Thanks for writing about this beautiful state.
Thank you so much Susannah! They are direct to consumer, so I guess the higher prices were expected.
Wow, that is so cool that you lived there! It is a beautiful place, but so is CA!