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Virginia: Wine Country to Rival California

Although California is most popularly known for its good wine, Virginia also has a fantastic wine country. Virginia is filled with vineyards populating the scenic countryside. A state of mountains and valleys, Virginia has the perfect climate for grape and wine production.

Virginian vineyards have won numerous awards worldwide for their delicious wines, including a "Best of Show" award in one California competition.

Wine production in Virginia began in 1609 when the Jamestown settlers produced their first vat of wine from native grapes. Two years later, wine specialists arrived from Britain to help the new colonists establish thriving wineries.

With them, the specialists brought years of frustration. Because they brought vines from Europe, they met with successive failures. However, around 1769, a French winemaker, Estave, came to a revolutionary conclusion: the problem with the vineyards wasn't the country, but the grapes.

European grapes could not survive in the Virginian climate. Thus, a few years later, he began producing native grapes, forming the basis for the wineries that exist today.

Since Estave's time, the number of wineries in Virginia has increased greatly. There are now over 60 wineries throughout Virginia, the most famous area being the Shenandoah Valley.

However, there are actually six different grape-growing regions: Monticello (Central Virginia), Northern Neck - George Washington's Birth Place (Eastern Virginia), Rocky Knob (Southwest Virginia), Eastern Shore (Northern Virginia), North Fork of Roanoke (Western Virginia) ), and Shenandoah Valley (Western Virginia).

Many wineries are actually small family-run vineyards that cater to the public. Often vineyards have an on-site bed and breakfast as well as tours and tastings. Virginia is a beautiful state to visit for a leisurely wine-tasting tour.

Most of the major wine varieties are produced somewhere in Virginia, including Chardonnay, Pinot Griggio, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. The diversity of the wines and the wineries adds to an already interesting and exciting tour.

The beautiful countryside that accompanies the vineyards is worth a visit during any trip, whether you are visiting Virginia specifically for wine tasting or for another holiday.

Despite the general assumption that the best wine produced in North America is from California, do not be fooled. Virginia has its own vibrant culture, beautiful colors, and fabulous wine in abundance. So, when you're planning your next vacation or weekend getaway consider visiting Virginia and its wineries!

Andrew Lincoln-Croft writes on topics related to wine and travel. His articles are published at Folk Wine and A Travel To .

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