Did you know that there are over 200 wineries in the state of Virginia with 17 award-winning wineries and topnotch eateries in the Lynchburg area alone? The French don’t have the corner market on wine and neither does California. Wine and family vineyards aren’t a new area of business for the state of Virginia. Follow me as I visit DeVault Family Vineyards in Concord, Virginia.
History on Wine in Virginia
Here’s a little history on wine in Virginia from the Virginia Wine website:
Virginians have made wine for more than four centuries. The Jamestown settlers had such hopes that Virginia would become a major source of wine for the British Empire that in 1619 they signed into law a requirement for each male settler to plant and tend at least ten grape vines. Little came of it. Every effort to grow vinifera, or vines of European origin, met with failure from an unknown pest, Phylloxera as well as diseases in a new environment. The booming tobacco trade diluted British interest in the possibilities of American wine. Americans themselves lost interest. While fine wine could be had only from Europe, whiskey, beer and brandy were plentiful.
In hopes of one day realizing the promise of fine Virginia wines, Thomas Jefferson cultivated European grapes for more than 30 years. His Monticello vineyards never produced a single bottle of wine from his years of vineyard trials. He wasn’t alone in trying. After 11 years of efforts at Mount Vernon, George Washington, too, had nothing to show for it.
1820’s in Virginia
In the 1820s, wines made from Native American grapes met with great success. Then a Virginia Norton wine was named “best red wine of all nations” at the Vienna World’s Fair in 1873. Plus a gold medal for Norton at the Paris World’s Fair of 1889 when the Eiffel tower was constructed. The discovery in the late 1800s that native and European vines could be grafted gave Virginia’s nascent wine industry a lift – but in the early 20th century, Prohibition promptly brought it to a standstill. The industry was slow to bounce back. Some 17 years after Prohibition’s repeal, Virginia had all of 15 acres of commercial wine grapes.
Late 1950’s in Virginia
In the late-1950s, experimental plantings of vinifera showed promise. With the establishment of six new wineries in the 1970s, the recovery was officially underway. A renewed effort to grow a European Chardonnay succeeded at the Waverly Estate in Middleburg in 1973. Then in 1976, Italian pioneer vintner Gianni Zonin hired Gabriele Rausse to grow and harvest vinifera grapes near Charlottesville. He established Barboursville Vineyards and then helped other vineyards do the same. By 1995, Virginia had 46 wineries. By 2005, 107. At 192 wineries and counting today, only California, New York, Oregon and Washington have more wineries than Virginia. The persistence of generations of winemakers is paying off. And the vision of one of Virginia’s most renowned native sons, Thomas Jefferson, is now coming true.
Visiting Family Vineyards in Virginia
Now that you know the history of Virginia wines, what about the wine itself? I visited one of the many family vineyards and wineries in the area, DeVault Family Vineyards in Concord, during my recent trip to Virginia.
Situated on 32 acres, DeVault Family Vineyards in less than 20 minutes from both Lynchburg and Appomattox. First purchased around 12-13 years ago as a grape producing vineyard, they started making wine 3-4 years ago. As a result of their wine production, the tasting room opened about 2 1/2 – 3 years later.
While one might expect to taste wine at a vineyard, DeVault Family Vineyards offers more than a traditional vineyard experience. Inside you’ll find their 20’x48′ tasting room where you can relax and taste one of their many wines. Most noteworthy, however, is that there’s so much more here than just the wine.
More Than Just Tasting Wine
How about summer concerts, a pool, tennis court, volleyball, basketball, and a children’s playhouse? This is truly a family vineyard meant for families. You can bring the entire family and everyone will enjoy themselves. They also host private parties and events and even weddings. Can you imagine a wedding here?
With nine wines currently and more coming soon, the variety of wines available are interesting and unusual. Consequently, they can ship within the state of Virginia and are currently working on shipping out of state, too.
- Sweet Autumn Mist: A sweet white table wine with a flowery nose and strong fruit character
- Mr. D’s Blend: A sweet red table wine. Perfect to keep you cool on hot summer afternoons and warm on a cold winter night.
- Lover’s Blush: A semi-sweet blended blush, the aroma evokes the smell of the vineyard at harvest time. Has a romantic rose color.
- Chardonel: A dry white wine, crisp taste with citrus overtones and a clean finish.
- Darion’s Reserve: Our oaked Norton; with a bouquet of blackberry and light spices followed by a rich complex flavor and vanilla overtones.
- Norton: A dry red; a complex bouquet of blackberry, gala apples, and a touch of spice.
- Old Time Watermelon Wine: Our very own Old Time Watermelon wine can be described as a simply sweet treat.
- Niagra: Our 2010 vintage of Niagra has a simple fruity taste and is easy to enjoy with a clean refreshing finish.
- Chardonel Reserve: Our 2010 Vintage of Chardonel Reserve is barrel select and lightly oaked to provide a smooth well rounded taste.
Get up close and personal to a family vineyard the next time you’re in Virginia. With breathtaking views and great service, a visit to DeVault Family Vineyards should be part of your next trip. Tell them Travel Shop Girl sent you and then don’t forget to bring me back a bottle of Mr. D’s!
DeVault Family Vineyards
247 Station Lane
Concord, VA 24538
Web site: www.devaultvineyards.com