Amid the glorious war stories and grand revolutionary acts that transpired in colonial-era Virginia exists another remarkable, yet subtle account that elevated the importance and viniculture potential of the New World.
By the 17th century, winemaking had flourished throughout Europe and gained particular notoriety in France’s famed Champagne and Bordeaux regions. The discovery of the New World, and Virginia in particular, not only presented Europeans with the opportunity to expand their kingdoms, but their winemaking empires as well.
Virginia settlers were commanded to plant and harvest Vitis vinifera and vigneron vines sent from France to the New World in 1619. The French vines yielded few successful fruitages, prompting an additional 10,000 vines to be transported to the New World in 1621. Decades of trial-and-error ensued, but by the late 1670s, Virginia’s terrain began to show signs of promise and sparked a burning desire within Virginia settlers to take part in the Commonwealth’s progressing wine industry.
Wine connoisseurs such as Thomas Jefferson and Daniel Norton played a large role in promoting Virginia’s winemaking capabilities, and their efforts have allowed the state to achieve 400 years of viniculture prominence. Virginia is now among the top 10 winegrowing states in the nation and boasts upwards of 280 wineries.
Capitalizing on Virginia’s centuries-old vineyards is Chris Pearmund of Pearmund Cellars. The seasoned winemaker of Broad Run launched a 400-Year Wine Anniversary Project in conjunction with the Virginia Tourism Corporation that features the release of an exclusive red blend that celebrates Virginia as the winemaking cradle of the New World.
The commemorative wine, Virginia’s Heritage, is an exquisite blend of merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons, Cabernet Francs and Petit Verdots from 15 of Virginia’s finest wineries. Each winery delivered a barrel of their best red to Pearmund Cellars, and Pearmund then combined the barrels and assembled the final product.
Pearmund is currently aging 28 barrels of Virginia’s Heritage at the cellars in Broad Run and will begin bottling in August. Pearmund hopes to expand the total number of barrels to 32 in order to achieve the goal of producing 10,000 bottles.
Much like the wine itself, the label for Virginia’s Heritage is a unique blend of old world and new world. Pearmund printed the vintage labels on a thin birchwood veneer with imagery that mimics the iconic Virginia Company logo. “It’s a recognition of true Virginia wine,” Pearmund says.
Virginia’s Heritage will be released on Oct. 1 as an ode to Virginia Wine Month and will make an appearance at both Mount Vernon’s Fall Wine Festival in October and at the Virginia Executive Mansion in Richmond for a special event with Gov. Northam.
Virginia’s Heritage will also be sold through various distributors across the state as well as in the tasting rooms of the 15 participating wineries: Potomac Point, Stafford; Rappahannock Cellars, Huntly; Winery at Bull Run, Centreville; Williamsburg Winery, Williamsburg; Effingham Manor & Winery, Nokesville; Narmada Winery, Amissville; Naked Mountain, Markham; Phillip Carter Winery, Hume; Vint Hill Craft Winery, Vint Hill; Pearmund Cellars, Broad Run; New Kent Winery, New Kent; Glass House Winery, Free Union ; Rosemont of Virginia Winery, La Crosse; Ingleside Vineyards, Oak Grove; and Cooper Vineyards, Louisa.