Since coming back to Virginia for a long visit I’ve been able to visit some of my old stomping grounds again! This is where I visited my FIRST winery, way before I was ever in the wine industry or before I knew that there were more than like six varietals of grapes…oh you poor naive child!
The first winery I EVER visited was the Williamsburg Winery, though I haven’t been able to go back there for a visit yet, I have had the chance to taste my way through three other wineries since my arrival back to the state.
Now, from what I’ve learned about this region is that basically anything can grow within the seven AVA’s (American Viticulture Areas) but the two grapes that do the best according to local winemakers is the Petit Manseng and the Petit Verdot. These two powerhouse grapes are on either end of the spectrum when it comes to grapes. Both small in size (no I don’t just mean the word petit) but pack a punch with flavors.
Here is a little history about those grapes:
Petit Manseng is a white wine grape variety that is grown primarily in South West France. It produces the highest quality wine of any grape in the Manseng family. The name is derived from its small, thick skin berries.
Petit Verdot is a variety of red wine grape, principally used in classic Bordeaux blends. It ripens much later than the other varieties in Bordeaux, often too late, so it fell out of favor in its home region. When it does ripen it adds tannin, color and flavor, in small amounts, to the blend.
However, what I have found interesting is that, if these two grapes are known to be some of the best-growing grapes of the state…why are they so hard to find in the tasting rooms? Now I haven’t been able to explore as much around the state in tastings as I’d like but the one grape I’ve seen more than any is the Seyval Blanc.
The Seyval Blanc is a hybrid wine grape variety used to make white wines. Its vines ripen early, are productive and are suited to fairly cool climates. Seyval Blanc is grown mainly in England, the United States east coast, in the Pacific Northwest.
In every tasting room and on every shelf in the store that is highlighting local wines, I have always seen Seyval Blanc on the shelf, almost more so in some stores than a Riesling, Chardonnay or a Cabernet Sauvignon. This has been a fascinating experience for me because of my little knowledge about the Virginia wine industry and growing area, I am certainly getting a learning curve!
This is what I love about this industry, every time I visit a new state, country or even region of the same state – if there is wine…I am learning! Something is always different, whether it is the weather, terroir, seasons, angles of the sun on the vineyard, winemaker’s preferences, etc. The list is neverending and that means the excitement and the learning will never end too!
More to be shared about what more I’ll learn on my travels of wine!