Virginia’s presence in the wine world just got another notch: A new AVA (American Viticultural Area, generically known as an “appellation”).
Approved in September 2012, the Middleburg AVA (named after the famous, historic horse raising and fox hunting village in southern Loudoun County) is a ribbon that stretches from the Potomac River (near Hiddencroft Vineyards) southward to the Delaplane area of Fauquier County. Many Northern Virginia favorites dot the AVA and a sign unveiling took place in late March 2013 at Boxwood Winery. This brings the number of AVA’s in Virginia to seven. The others are the Shenandoah Valley AVA, the Monticello AVA, the Northern Neck/George Washington’s Birthplace AVA, the Eastern Shore AVA, the North Fork of Roanoke AVA and the Rocky Knob AVA.
What, exactly, is an Appellation? An appellation is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown. In order to be designated an AVA, 85% of the wine must have come from grapes grown within the geographical AVA boundaries. For counties like Loudoun and Fauquier, the number of wineries and vineyards (including vineyards that do not have public tasting rooms) has quadrupled over the past ten years alone. An AVA designation similar to Napa, Sonoma, Long Island and Finger Lakes will only enhance Virginia’s (and Northern Virginia’s in particular) status in the wild world of wine. One of many benefits of an AVA designation is the ability of a winery in that appellation to put the AVA on the label, so expect to see “Middleburg AVA” on labels from many Loudoun and Fauquier County wine bottles beginning next year.
The wineries in the Middleburg AVA ribbon can be found here. Not all Loudoun County spots made the cut; only the wineries lucky enough to be located in the appellation ribbon. But that does not mean the wine from these non AVA wineries will be shabby. Just a few wineries located a few miles outside the AVA border: Fox Meadow Vineyards, Fabbioli Cellars, and Marterella Winery.
The designation of the Middleburg AVA is a major event for Northern Virginia vineyards, and the bloggers expect announcements of future appellations in the Commonwealth over the next several years.