From the Chesapeake Bay to the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond, more than 200 wineries can be found in every region of the state of Virginia. Along with destinations such as Italy, France, Spain, Germany and California, Virginia was recently named one the 10 Best Wine Travel Destinations for 2012 by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
One of the only wine destinations in the country where visitors can kayak to a winery, the rich history, natural beauty and historic sites in the state are just a few of the many reasons why the Old Dominion was chosen as a hot wine travel destination. Visitors can sample regional wines at a National Park, by a National Historic Landmark or while listening to bluegrass music at its roots.
The state’s annual wine festivals vary as much as the wineries themselves, offering wine lovers the chance to enjoy the flavors of Virginia’s grapes at large and small events.
2012 Virginia Summer Wine Festivals
- Southwest Virginia Wine Festival (Abingdon, at Heartwood) June 16, 2012 – Dig out your dancing shoes and come out for music by Mountain Park Old Time Band. This first-time festival at Heartwood pairs wine, mead and cider from the Artisan Trails of Southwest Virginia with music from The Crooked Road. The festival features food and wine tastings from local vineyards and restaurants along with ‘Round the Mountain artisan demonstrations. Just a few of the vineyards include Coltsfoot Winery, Foggy Ridge Center, MountainRose Vineyards and Blacksnake Meadery.
- 2nd Annual Richmond.com Uncorked Wine Festival (Richmond) June 16, 2012 – Held outdoors on the grounds of the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.com’s Uncorked offers the best in Virginia wine, food, live music and local artists. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the gate. Wine sampling and a souvenir glass are included in the ticket price. Participating wineries include Cooper Vineyards, First Colony Winery, Lake Anna Winery, Delfosse Wienery and several others. Proceeds benefit the YMCA of Richmond.
- 8th Annual Manassas Wine and Jazz (Manassas) June 17, 2012 – Held at the Harris Pavilion, located in the heart of historic Old Town Manassas, this event features headline jazz artists such as Kitty and the Fat Cats, Project Natale and Marcus Johnson. Spend a relaxing afternoon tasting and purchasing wines from award-winning Virginia wineries, including Horton Vineyards, Mattaponi Winery, Potomac Point Winery, Stone Mountain Vineyards and Unicorn Winery.
- 4th Annual Kilmarnock Wine Festival (Kilmarnock, 1st and north Main streets) June 23, 2012 – Sample wines from several vineyards on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail, including Athena Vineyards, Good Luck Cellars, The Hague Winery, Ingleside and Oak Crest Winery. Music includes Jonathan Williams and Planet Full of Blues.
- 4th Annual Virginia Summer Solstice Wine Festival (Amherst, at Lazy Days Winery) June 23-24, 2012 – Celebrate the beginning of summer on the grounds of Lazy Days Winery. The festival features award-winning regional wines, as well as locally grown foods and specialty products. There will be activities throughout the weekend, including live music by area musicians, arts and crafts, antique cars, a petting zoo and children’s events.
- Covington Cork and Pork Festival (Covington) June 29-30, 2012 – The Covington Cork and Pork Festival is an outdoor festival featuring a Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned competition complete with a wine festival, music, food, street entertainment and family fun.
- Keswick Vineyards Reds, Whites and Bluegrass Festival (Keswick) July 4, 2012 –Bring a blanket or lawn chair and a picnic basket, or enjoy Mr. Chip’s Barbeque, while sipping wines and listening to live bluegrass music performed by local band The Grass and Eclectic Company. Local Virginia wine author Richard Leahy will be selling and signing copies of his book “Beyond Jefferson’s Vines,” a guide to the Virginia wine scene today.
- Anniversary Festival at Gray Ghost Winery (Amissville) July 7-8, 2012 – Celebrate Gray Ghost’s 18th anniversary with wine tastings, vineyard and winery tours, live jazz music, specialty craft vendors, a Civil War camp, firing of a replica Civil War cannon, silent auction of barrels and much, much more.
- Winestock (Washington, at Little Washington Winery) July 14, 2012 – The first annual Winestock Festival is a day to enjoy art, music, food, cooking demonstrations, pairing seminars and craft wines from around the world. An artisan market will line the driveway and live bands will perform everything from classic and modern rock to funk, R&B, reggae and contemporary pop. International artisan wines from the Dirt Road Wine Tour will be set up at this natural amphitheater with the panoramic backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- The Horse and Hound Wine Festival (Bedford, grounds of Johnson’s Orchards) July 14, 2012 – Enjoy wine from some of Virginia’s finest wineries, listen to good music and visiting arts, crafts and food vendors. Virginia’s most unique wine festival has numerous events throughout the day. Horses and dogs serve as the primary attractions. Events include the Parade of Horses, agility dogs and muskrat racing. A portion of proceeds benefit the Brook Hill Farm, All-American Mutt Rescue and Commonwealth Search and Rescue. Wineries include Peaks of Otter, Lazy Days, Wintergreen and Lake Anna.
- Caribbean Beach Party Wine Festival at Lake Anna (Spotsylvania, at Lake Anna Winery) August 4, 2012 – Spend an evening sipping award-winning wines and listening to live Caribbean music. The event take place from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00. Tickets are $15 per person. Participating wineries, from the Heart of Virginia Wine Trail, include Lake Anna Winery, Cooper Vineyards, James River Cellars and Grayhaven Winery.
- Blackdog Wine & Music Festival (Floyd) July 14 and August 11, 2012 – Bring out the lawn chairs and dancing shoes for a relaxing fun-filled afternoon. Artists, craftsmen and vendors will be on site for shopping and plenty of great food.
- Botetourt County Wine Trail Summer Concert Series (Botetourt) August 11, 2012 – The Wine Trail of Botetourt County presents the second annual summer concert series. The series continues at Blue Ridge Vineyard on August 11 and features The Fat Daddy Band. Come out for a fun, family-friendly outdoor concert. Savor great wine and good music.
- Grayson County Wine Festival (Independence) August 25, 2012 – Area wineries offer a sampling of their wines. Enjoy food and crafts vendors, terrific wines and live music at the historic 1908 courthouse in Independence, Virginia.
Please check back frequently as more events will be added as they become known.
Virginia Wine History
The wine industry in Virginia has been around for quite some time. Jamestown colonists (circa. 1607) grew grapes and made wine. Thomas Jefferson was a big supporter of wine and had an extensive collection at Monticello. In 1787, he took a three and a half month tour of the wine regions of southern France and northern Italy. He kept extensive notes and journals on the subject in the hope of bringing the wine industry to America (i.e. Virginia). His work seems to have paid off.
The Virginia Wine Industry
Tourism is a top revenue-maker in Virginia. In 2010, tourism generated $19 billion in revenue, supported over 204,000 jobs and provided $1.3 billion in state and local taxes. Approximately one million people include a visit to a Virginia winery while visiting the state.
Virginia is the nation’s fifth largest wine producer and seventh largest wine grape producer. In 2005, there were 120 wineries in Virginia. Today, there are more than 200 farm wineries in the state.
Visit Virginia.org/wine to learn more about wine travel in Virginia.
Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. For information on travel in Virginia, please visit Virginia.org or call toll-free 1-800-VISITVA for a free 2012 Virginia is For Lovers Travel Guide.
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