Virginia Wine 101

The Age & Art

You might think of Virginia wine as new on the scene but American wine was born in Virginia. When you visit Virginia wineries and drink Virginia wines, you’re steeping yourself in a rich, lush beauty that tells the story of the land itself.

The vineyard and wines at King Family Vineyards exemplifies the unique quality of Virginia’s wines. We grow wine in the heart of one of Virginia’s premier wine regions, the Monticello AVA. This is where the first vineyards began.

The growth of an industry

In 1979, there were SIX wineries in Virginia. Now, we have OVER 300.

Terroir: What Does it Mean?

This French word refers to the complete natural environment where a particular wine is grown. The character of the land infuses the wine with its uniqueness. Factors like soil, topography, and climate contribute to the essence of the wine it produces.

Vine Structure

Proper vine training helps balance growth of foliage with production of fruit. Successful vine structures take into account a farm’s soil types and microclimate.

We plant our vines using the Smart-Dyson/Ballerina method (it looks like a splitting ballerina). We also use the VSP (Vertical Shoot Positioning) method.

Making Virginia Wine

The distinctive nature of our soil types, specifically at King Family Vineyards but also throughout Virginia, contributes to our terroir and style.

Soil Types in Virginia

Virginia has a range of soil types:

    • Iron-rich clay
    • Sand, loam
    • Granite

Most experts believe the best soil for growing grapes is loamy soil. Loam soil is a mix of sandsilt, and clay.  It allows for necessary drainage of excess moisture while keeping nutrients and minerals. At King Family, we have a soil called dyke-loam.

Learn more about how we grow wine in the Piedmont region at our vineyards.

Landscape & History: A Snapshot of Virginia Wines

  • 1619 – Acte 12 passed by Virginia House of Burgesses, requiring Virginia colonists to plant vineyards

  • 1770’s – Jefferson’s experimentation at Monticello

  • 1873 – “Best Red Wine of All Nations” at Vienna World’s Fair

  • Early 1900s – Charlottesville’s Monticello Wine Company and its Virginia Claret Wine were so well-regarded that the city declared itself to be “the Capital of the Wine Belt in Virginia.”

  • 7 American Viticultural Areas (AVA)

  • Virginia has 2,500 acres of vineyard, growing:

  • 400 acres of Chardonnay

  • 350 acres of Cabernet Franc

  • 250 acres of Merlot

  • 225 acres of Viognier

  • 200 acres of Petit Verdot

Virginia Wines at King Family Vineyards

Our wine helps tell the story of Virginia wine. We have a total vineyard acreage of nearly 30 acres, with an additional 20 acres under vine on a neighboring farm. While many grapes may originate as Old World imports, you’ll discover that each type of Virginia wine offers a New World resonance that can only come from Virginia.

Go in depth and learn about these popular blends:

Merlot (7.06 Acres) 

One of the most famous Bordeaux grapes, Merlot has a wide winemaking potential. In Virginia, is used to make everything from rosé to rich, full-bodied reds. Red fruit like plums, cherries, and blackcurrants are often noted in Merlot.

Viognier (6.46 Acres)

This French variety is originally from the Rhône Valley. It is known for its floral aromas, with tropical fruit and melon notes on the palate.

Chardonnay (5.16 Acres)

This is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world. It produces wines all over the spectrum, from dry and sparkling to heavy and oaky. In Virginia, you might also encounter Chardonnay-Viognier blends, like King Family Vineyard’s Roseland).

Cabernet Franc (4.43 Acres)

One of the noble grapes of Bordeaux, Cabernet Franc has found a new home in the warm climate of Virginia. This grape can be used for blending but it performs well as a single varietal in Virginia. It’s known for its fragrant nose and peppery finish. 

Petit Verdot (4.09 Acres)

A bold, late-ripening Bordeaux variety, Petit Verdot (often referred to as PV), produces some of the most tannic and complex wines in the AVA. It is also used for blending.

Petit Manseng (1.00 Acre)

A white grape variety from South Western France which is often produced into a sweet wine via late harvesting, dehydration or freezing.

Malbec (0.44 Acres)

Appreciated in Bordeaux for its blending qualities, Malbec is also being grown in Virginia to add structure, complexity, and color to Bordeaux style blends. Many people are most familiar with Argentine Malbec from Mendoza.


Shop Wine