David King, 64, co-founder of King Family Vineyards, died on May 2 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
A native of Texas, King grew up in Abilene and attended Trinity University, where he met his wife, Ellen, and earned a law degree from the University of Houston Law School.
In 1996, David and Ellen left their law practice in Houston to settle in Virginia with their three young sons—Carrington, James and Stuart. A year later, the Kings purchased a 327-acre property known as Roseland Farm, situated in the town of Crozet, about 20 minutes west of Charlottesville.
It was King’s passion for polo that led to the purchase of the Roseland property. The initial plan was to find a property with enough flat land to establish a polo field to continue playing the sport he loved.
Though a vineyard was not part of the original plan for Roseland, fate, or Bacchus, intervened a year later when King was approached about leasing 10 acres of land to plant grape vines.
The Kings planted their first 8 acres of vines on the property in 1998, laying the foundation for what would become one of the most important vineyards and wineries in Virginia—King Family Vineyards.
King immediately became an important member of the local wine community and took on an important leadership role advocating on behalf of the entire industry.
“From lobbying state legislators to chairing the Virginia Wine Board, David’s contributions to the Virginia wine industry can’t be measured,” says Annette Boyd, director of the marketing office of the Virginia Wine Board.
King championed the passage of the Virginia Farm Winery Act in 2007 and the creation of the Virginia Winery Distribution Company that provides wholesale wine distribution services for local farm wineries, allowing them to reach more consumers.
When not building King Family Vineyards and advocating on behalf of the entire industry, King served as a mentor to new winery owners, helping them navigate the complex wine learning curve.
“When I started Paradise Springs, David’s guidance in helping work through issues with the county was invaluable,” said Kirk Wiles, owner of Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton and current chair of the Virginia Wine Board.
“David was committed to helping us and the entire industry. He was instrumental in passing the Virginia Farm Winery Act, which limited the control local municipalities could have on winery activities, allowing the industry to grow significantly. He was an icon, and we owe it to his legacy to keep working to move the industry forward.”
Today, because of King’s vision and commitment to quality, King Family Vineyards is home to 31 acres of vineyards and is one of the most noted wineries in Virginia, producing 10,000 cases of world-class wine a year.
Continuing to grow the industry and producing world-class wines while supporting colleagues is the best way to honor David King’s legacy.