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Why Make Wine in Virginia?

For more than 20 years, Mount Vernon has hosted a wine festival to celebrate the rich tradition of Virginia wine. Since the first colonists arrived, viticulturists—or grape growers—struggled to grow wine grapes on Virginian soil. Even skilled agriculturalists George Washington and Thomas Jefferson tried and failed many times to grow wine grapes at their plantations. However, persistent planters found success in the 19th century, but prohibition halted their progress until the 1970s with the establishment of seven new wineries. Among these early pioneers was Italian vintner Gianni Zonin, founder of Barboursville Vineyards—a longtime participant in Mount Vernon’s wine festivals.

Zonin moved to Virginia from the Veneto region of Italy in 1976 and founded a vineyard at the historic estate of Governor James Barbour. Zonin saw great potential in the mid-Atlantic region; its geographic convenience between Europe and California, its familiar climate and growing season, and the cultural attraction of Barboursville itself moved him to establish a 900-acre vineyard in Central Virginia.

While the founding fathers failed to grow wine grapes, Zonin and his contemporaries found success grafting European vines on native American roots. This method gives the vines immunity to the Virginian pest, phylloxera. The combination of the Old World with the New is a defining characteristic of Virginia wine.

Barboursville Vineyards has participated in Mount Vernon’s wine festivals for more than 20 years and returns to the estate with about a dozen wines for the 2018 Fall Wine Festival. For the wine aficionados, here’s a list of the wines:

Allegranté Rosé 2017, a new winery standard in rosé composition, based on whole cluster pressings of petite sirah and nebbiolo. A very food-friendly wine, of fine capability for development in bottle but very approachable immediately.

Barbera Reserve 2016, the most self-effacing tannins in a full-bodied red, exceedingly popular for pairings where a white would have come to mind, as well as with meats, pastas, and game; and for whites lovers, a very welcome palate behavior structured by fruit acidity, in lieu of tannin.

Nebbiolo Reserve 2014, a wine of wonderful aging potential and truly complex varietal character, one of the winery’s most critically esteemed, collectible wines.

Cabernet Franc Reserve 2016, a Virginia classic through 25 vintages; multiple layers of ripe berries, plum, and currant, elegant structure and refined tannins.

Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2014, our rarest wine, not available in every vintage. Classic Cabernet qualities and a long-term hold for the cellar.

Octagon 2014, opulent and exceptionally age-worthy wine blended from select lots of Reserve Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. A very distinguished vintage. Will be available in limited supply of 1.5L magnums and standard 750ml formats.

Brut Rosé Cuvée 1814. 100 percent Pinot Noir classic méthode champenoise sparkling wine

Vermentino Reserve 2016, very splendid seafood favorite, grown in Liguria, coastal Tuscany, and the islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea. A very consistent new success at Barboursville, for 6 straight vintages. It loves to grow here.

Fiano Reserve 2017, classic, light white wine from Calabria and from Puglia, where our founder grows it on the Adriatic Coast. A beautiful new white for Virginia, elegantly floral and lingering on the palate.

Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2015, classic aromatics and flavors of a New Zealand-derived selection of grape sources, grown at Barboursville since 2001 as one of our most consistently honored wines.

Viognier Reserve 2016, the first of two vintages in a row to be named the region’s finest Viognier at the annual Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition. Not blended, never in oak, 100 percent Viognier of effusive varietal aromas, supple palate, and distinct age-worthiness.

Paxxito 2014, one of our most honored wines, blended of Vidal Blanc and Moscato Ottonel, a patient and lengthy native-yeast fermentation in neutral oak barrels and long settling in stainless steel. Hand-selected fruit is air dried for months on open racks in the wine’s own open-air building, before being pressed as raisins, releasing an extract of exceptional age worthiness and lengthy palate pleasure.