Editors' note: To close 2011, Palate Press: The online wine magazine will be featuring some of our top stories from the past year. Our sixth piece comes from Lenn Thompson, giving us coverage of the Virginia wine industry's continued growth and the future challenges the state may face.
A modern wine industry that started with a handful of estates in the late 1970s has exploded to nearly 200 wineries covering every corner of the state, including six AVAs. According to the Virginia Wine Board, the state ranks fifth in the country in wine grape production, and produces more than 500,000 cases of wine per year. Clearly Virginia is already a player in the East Coast wine community, but can it go further?
“The last thing people associate New Jersey with is fine wine, mostly because of negative pop culture images,” says Jim Quarella, owner and winemaker at Bellview Winery, less than an hour west of Atlantic City, adding “Most people think that New Jersey is all gangsters, trash, smells funny, etc. They've only ever experienced maybe Newark or the New Jersey Turnpike. They rarely view us as the Garden State and see how beautiful it is, down here in the rural areas.”
This warm-vintage Cabernet Franc brings all of the spice, earth and herbal notes franc fanatics crave—everything from black tea to bay leaf to dried oregano to black pepper—with ripe, medium-intensity tannins, well-incorporated oak and just a bit of acidity on the finish to improve the balance.
Blended with 8% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot (in addition to the Cabernet), this is fairly straightforward with currant and blackberry fruit and subtle earthy spice. The oak is a bit overt on the finish, which is also a bit short, but overall this is a solid Cab from a lesser-known region.
In the May 2006 issue of Wine Spectator Mitch Frank penned “New York Rising”, a story identifying New York as “America’s next great wine region” adding that “New York was once known for industrial bulk wine production, but passionate vintners, most working from small wineries, have dramatically improved the quality of the state's wines.