Richmond Wineries: The Central Virginia Vineyards That Make a Compelling American Wine Region

Richmond, Virginia has long had its roots in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Surprising to most, its wine industry also has roots dating back to Thomas Jefferson’s time. Richmond, the capital of the Commonwealth, is undergoing a cultural resurgence and one of the main driving factors has been the wineries near Richmond and Charlottesville.

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Nearly a stones throw from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is Jefferson Vineyards.  Just beyond that are Kluge Winery and New Kent Winery. As different as night and day, these three wineries are examples of changing perceptions about Virginia wines.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

Jefferson Winery is located on part of Thomas Jefferson’s original property dating back to 1774. That’s pretty much all there is to the historical value of the vines, which were only planted two and a half decades ago. “We first replanted Thomas Jefferson’s original vineyard sites in 1981 and the winery opened in 1986,” says Chad Zakaib, general manager.

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Of Jefferson’s original 6,500 acres, the vineyards are planted in the same location as their original plantings due to an important factor. “This site is well protected from the prevailing weather patterns,” Zakaib notes, allowing for more sunshine and less intrusive inclement weather because of its elevation.

Their portfolio includes chardonnay, pinot gris, petite verdot, cabernet franc, merlot and several others. Employing a direct-to-consumer model means that you won’t find a lot of these wines on the open market. “Most of our wines are being soaked up by the local communities.”

Pictures: 
Kristin Moses at Kluge Winery
The Vineyard at New Kent Winery