Watch out Cali, Virginia is stepping up its game. The birthplace of American wine is celebrating another exciting arrival: a brand new American Viticultural Area (AVA). The AVA designation must be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), and affords certain rights to wineries and vineyards within the delineated area (like labeling their wines “estate bottled”). More importantly, however, an AVA designation imbues the area with certain standard of quality, and specific characteristics. Ever bought a chardonnay from Rutherford or Alexander Valley because you’d had one from the area that you liked before? That’s why AVAs are important. As the TTB puts it, “the use of an AVA name on a label allows vintners and consumers to attribute a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of a wine made from grapes grown in a certain area to its geographical origin.”
The new Middleburg AVA is Virginia’s seventh recognized viticultural area, but marks an important milestone for Virginia wine. The culmination of 6 years of hard work by proponents, the new AVA solidifies a growing trend towards superior quality wines, capable of competing (and winning) on national and international stages. Some of Middleburg’s wines already are. During the sign unveiling ceremony last week, the driving force behind the AVA petition, Boxwood’s EVP Rachel Martin, had this to say:
“This AVA designation promotes Northern Virginia as a recognized US wine growing region further placing Virginia in a national context of making wine and allows us to tell a more comprehensive story of Virginia vineyards, wines, viticulture and winemaking practices.”
And Boxwood certainly is telling a story. Their powerhouse Bordeaux blends are quickly climbing the menu ranks in restaurants throughout the region and across the country. But they’re not alone. Nearby winery RdV Vineyards is a rising star, following years of soil research and site analysis to find the right plot of land to cultivate the best fruit for their Bordeaux blends. With both the Lost Mountain and Rendezvous blends winning a spot in the 2013 Governor’s Cup Case, winemaker Rutger de Vink is putting his money where his grapes are and taking on Napa Mertiage and Cabernet blends in their very own blind tasting at the vineyard. This is definitely an AVA worth your tasting time.
For a snapshot of the Middleburg AVA boundaries, and the wineries and vineyards therein, check out this interactive map.