The history of Virginia wines may have begun with the settlers of Jamestown, Virginia who experimented with vineyards and winemaking. However, Thomas Jefferson is credited with successful grape cultivation and popularizing winemaking in Virginia. The horticultural icon and beloved 3rd President of the United States desperately wanted to grow grapes of the variety enjoyed by European wine producers. He employed a pair of Italian vintners to work a portion of the land adjacent to Monticello and soon found that they had successfully acclimated the foreign grapes to the local soil and climate conditions.
The Virginia wine industry was growing, to the enjoyment of local farmers and aristocrats, but the political turmoil facing the nation in the mid-1800s proved detrimental to this newly successful regional venture. During the Civil War, Virginia vineyards were known to be places of pride and became targets of arson. In the following decades, farmers focused on crops that were more easily grown and sold and the wine industry of Virginia all but disappeared.
The onset of Prohibition in the early 1900s also kept Virginia growers from including grapes in their planting plans and even after the end of the Prohibition, Virginia farmers shied away from grape growing.
Starting up again in the 1970s, Virginia landowners delved into the possibilities of growing a wide array of grapes and experimenting with winemaking. It didn’t take long for the trend to catch on, or for the public to crave the local labels.
Today the Commonwealth of Virginia boasts more than 300 vineyards in its countryside and approximately 100 wineries. It is quickly becoming known as the Napa Valley of the East.
Here at Narmada Winery, we would like to keep up with Thomas Jefferson’s belief that every venture in horticulture should be journaled.