Which Red Wine Grapes Grow Best in Virginia?
If you’re looking to start a vineyard, you probably have some questions about red wine grapes in Virginia. What grapes grow well? Should I grow red or white? When will the vines produce fruit? Every area has grapes that flourish and others that falter based on the weather, altitude, geography, and soil. While Virginia’s mild climate allows many grapes to grow well, some wine grapes grow better in Virginia than others. If you have questions about what red wine grapes to grow in Virginia, here’s a guide to the best varieties.
Virginia Red Wine Grapes: The Winner
While you may find luck growing other wine grapes in Virginia, Merlot is one of the best growing red wine grapes in Virginia.
Merlot is a great choice because it’s flexible. If you’re short of a single variety of red wine grapes, combine Merlot grapes with other varieties to create an interesting blend. Virginia Merlot grapes also make great wine all on their own. If you want to try growing Merlot, keep in mind that there are two main styles of wine with the grapes. You could try the “International style,” in which case you would harvest the grapes late in the season. This way, the wine is full-bodied and high in alcohol. This style gives the wine more of the velvety tannins than does the other style. Alternatively, you could make the more traditional “Bordeaux style” Merlot. To make the traditional wine, harvest your grapes earlier in the season. These wines are medium-bodied with a more moderate alcohol content. Bordeaux style Merlot has an acidity that cuts some of the richness, and it still has some fresh fruit flavors that the other style lacks.
Virginia Red Wine Grapes: The Runners-Up
Other than Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chambourcin are some of the best red wine grapes in Virginia.
Another red wine grape that grows well in Virginia is Pinot Noir. If you want to create a complex, well-respected wine, these grapes might be the choice for you. The wine produced by Pinot Noir grapes in Virginia has many layers of flavor and has impressed wine experts across the world. This is one of the earliest grape varieties for wine-making. If you’re looking for dry and delicate wine that will develop complexity and new aromas as it ages, choose Pinot Noir.
Chambourcin grapes are the go-to French-American hybrid grape in Virginia. The flavors and aromas of Chambourcin grapes are as intense as in any French wine. These grapes grow particularly well in Virginia soil and the wine takes on characteristics specific to Virginia. These grapes have a long growing season, but farmers appreciate that the grapes are more resistant to fungal disease than many other grape varieties.
If you’re interested in starting a vineyard in Virginia, there are many incredibly properties that are ripe with potential.
If you have more questions about starting a vineyard, read some of our advice about how to get started here. Curious about how well Virginia wine-makers are doing? Check our some market statistics here.