Like the Norton grape, the Viognier grape has proven to be a resilient vine capable of growing in the harsh climates of Virginia. Today, the Viognier grape is recognized as the state grape of Virginia, with many vineyards dedicating fields to its growth and production. The origins of the Viognier grape are mysterious, and the vine itself was near extinct at one point. However, the Viognier grape has made a comeback in the wine industry. It is known the Viognier grape is European in origins. Despite its European origins, it has taken well to the Virginia climate.
In Virginia, Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards was the first to plant the grape in the state. Horton Vineyards planted their first ten acres in 1989. Horton first released a bottle of Viognier wine in 1992. By 1993, attention was being given to this new Virginia wine from Horton. Following the success of his first Viognier bottled, the grape began to grow in popularity in the state. (1) In 2011, the Virginia Wine Board named the Viognier grape the state grape of Virginia, confirming its growth in prominence and adding to its popularity.
The history of the Viognier grape in Virginia is not a deep one, but the potential for the grape to have on the wine industry and make its mark on Virginia history is noticeable. This potential has been recognized by other media outlets, including the Washington Post in their article: “Virginia is for Viognier Lovers?”
A personal note: the first Viognier from Virginia I remember liking was from Horton Vineyards. A friend brought this wine to a party, and I became a Viognier Lover myself!
(1) More information on this can be found in Todd Kliman’s book, The Wild Vine. For more information on Horton Vineyards, check out their website: hortonwine.com.