Following the growing success of the wine industry in Virginia thanks to the discovery of the Norton grape, Prohibition struck the country and began to have a noticeable effect on the state and its wineries. It took decades for the industry to recover following Prohibition, but as time progressed the industry began to make a come-back. Following the 1960s, the industry began to see an exponential growth in addition to recognition for its economic benefits in the state. The 1970s and 1980s witnessed the creation of new acts and associations whose target was to advance the Virginia wine industry. The 1990s featured the noticeable growth for the industry, and the first bottling of what later became the state grape of Virginia, the Viognier. Wineries grew in prominance and new innovators helped to bring Virginia back onto the international playing field by the late 1900s.
The threats of Prohibition began to affect the state and its wineries. Virginians voted to pass the Prohibition bill for the state, which would take effect in November, 1916.
Virginia became a dry state prior to Prohibition beginning nationally in November, 1916. As Prohibition took hold, the Norton vine and other vines in Virginia were destroyed.
The Eighteenth Amendment enacting Prohibition was ratified. The Amendment made illegal the importation and exportation of alcohol, as well as the manufacturing and sale of alcohol.
Prohibition official began in mid-January, 1920 and last for over a decade.
Prohibition was repealed nationally, coming to an end when the country was feeling the effects of the Great Depression.
Richard Leahy called the 1960s “the renaissance of the Virginia wine industry” in his book Beyond Jefferson’s Vines. (28)
First Virginia wineries opened since Prohibition.
The Vinifera Wine Growers Association (now known as the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association) was founded to support the growing of European grapes and expand the wine economy in the state.
The Virginia Farm Winery Act was passed, helping to support the local Virginia industry and production of grapes from the state by implementing a favorable tax for those vineyards who grew local grapes.
Virginia Wineries Association was established to serve the Virginia Farm Wineries and support the local wine industry. Learn more about the Virginia Wineries Association on their website.
Virginia Vineyards Association was incorporated to encourage information exchange and cooperation in the industry. Learn more about the Virginia Vineyards Association on their website.
The Virginia Farm Winery Act was reauthorized.
October was named Virginia Wine Month.
Horton Vineyards was the first to plan the Viognier grape in Virginia, with their first 10 acres in 1989. At this time, there were around 200 acres of the vine planted in the world.
Dennis Horton of Virginia reintroduced the Norton grape to Virginia from Missouri where it had been grown and preserved through the decades after the destruction of the vine in Virginia during Prohibition.
The Virginia Department of Tourism found five percent of the tourists visiting Virginia were coming to the state for its wineries. These tourists were staying in the state longer and spending more money than the average tourist.
Dennis Horton of Horton Vineyards produced their first vintage of Viognier. From here, the grape began to grow in popularity in the state and was later named the state grape of Virginia over two decades later.
The Virginia Department of Taxation included in their report that the state’s wineries were providing economic benefits both from their tax revenues and employment opportunities they were bringing to the state, in addition to the tourism benefits found in the 1992 Department of Tourism’s report. Read more in the Report of the Department of Taxation on “The Taxation of Farm Wineries in Virginia” from 1995.