By Jennifer Broome , Travel Journalist and TV Personality
August 30, 2022
When you think of American-made wine, the East Coast is probably not the first place that pops into your mind, but wine has been a part of American history since the first Europeans arrived. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, Jamestown settlers made unsuccessful early attempts to plant vines and make wine in the New World. Thomas Jefferson was a well-known oenophile and started the Virginia Wine Company with George Washington and others. Next to his Monticello home, Jefferson and Italian viticulturist Filippo Mazzei attempted to cultivate wine grapes. Dr. Daniel N. Norton of Richmond had some success establishing Virginia as a top wine region in the 1800s, but the Civil War, Prohibition and Great Depression nearly decimated the state’s wine industry. It wouldn’t revive until 1976 when Italian winemaker Gianni Zonin bought land near Charlottesville and found tremendous success planting European grapes at Barboursville Vineyards. Despite early failures, like a fine wine, Virginia’s grape-growing industry has aged beautifully with more than 300 wineries currently in the state.
On a trip to visit friends in Haymarket, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., I was pleasantly surprised with Virginia’s elevated wine experience. It took only one winery for me to call northern Virginia the Napa Valley of the East Coast. Here’s how we spent three days sipping our way through Virginia’s picturesque countryside and explored a little history too in Washington D.C.’s wine country.