In Charlottesville, history, innovation and collaboration are reflected in the high-quality wines produced.
Often referred to as the birthplace of American wine, Charlottesville’s wine history dates to the days of Thomas Jefferson, who called the area home.
“Jefferson had a vision that the Charlottesville area could be a region teeming with grapevines, and he even tried his hand at growing grapes to make his dream a reality,” says Brantley Ussery, director of marketing and public relations at Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, who notes that the founding father’s goal was to position Virginia as a winemaking region that could rival the best Old World wines in quality. Unfortunately, Jefferson’s grape-growing experiments failed, and he never saw this vision come to life.
But in 1970s, a new generation of winemakers worked to find which vines thrive best in the cool-climate region and may have finally fulfilled Jefferson’s vision. The Jeffersonian Wine Grape Grower’s Society (JWGGS) was established in the ’80s, a group that combines the knowledge and resources of the local industry.
Today, the Monticello Wine Trail connects over 40 wineries in and around Charlottesville. Those wineries produce a broad range of lauded wines—from classic Bordeaux varieties to carbonic Chenin Blancs and even the oft-overlooked Petite Menseng—and have made the region a destination for all wine lovers.
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Sustainable viticulture is especially important to Charlottesville. Collectively, the wineries have not only been adapting to climate change but have also implemented numerous initiatives to mitigate it as well—from implementing solar panel and composting programs to championing biodiversity in the vineyards and cultivation of hybrid varieties.
“There’s a spirit of collaboration among those wineries and winemakers on the trail, and that collaborative spirit helps foster new and innovative ideas,” explains Ussery. That collaboration and innovation is reflected in the high-quality wines produced, many of which have garnered national and international acclaim.
That said, Charlottesville is also a place where even those beginning their wine journey will feel included. “We want people who visit our wine region to feel welcome and know that there aren’t any wrong ways to enjoy wine,” explains Ussery, who adds that the region’s ecotourism is flourishing.
For its place in American wine history and ability to move toward a future of wine-style diversity and consumer inclusivity, Wine Enthusiast is proud to honor Charlottesville as the 2023 Wine Region of the Year Wine Star Award.
The post ‘There’s a Spirit of Collaboration Among These Wineries and Winemakers,’ Says Brantley Ussery, Director of Marketing, Charlottesville, Wine Region of the Year | Wine Enthusiast’s 2023 Wine Star Awards appeared first on Wine Enthusiast.