October 5, 2018

Here’s to 30 years of Virginia Wine Month.

The Beginning

Let’s take it all the way back to 1988.

For a few years, Virginia Farm Winery Month had been held in the sweltering heat of August in conjunction with the Virginia Wine Festival and the Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition. But a small committee from inside Virginia Wine knew it was time for a change.

Forty wineries dotted the landscape of the Commonwealth. Annette Boyd, now the Director of the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office, knew October would be a refreshing change from the hot, dusty August weather, and the picturesque views of ripe grapes on the vine against the backdrop of breathtaking Virginia foliage would make people eager to visit Virginia’s most rural areas for a glass of local wine. The plan was quickly presented and adopted—

October would be known as Virginia Wine Month.

The Middle

Governor Gerald Baliles proclaims October as Virginia Wine Month in 1988.

The very first Virginia Wine Month was announced in style with a kick-off reception hosted by Governor Gerald Baliles in the Rose Garden at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, VA. He gave a rousing speech about the importance of building local industries and pledged to assist the nascent wine region. A year later at the 1989 Governor’s Cup Wine Competition, he reflected on his remarks,

“I saw that an old industry was in the process of being revived by Virginia’s wine-growing pioneers, and I felt that the state government could draw them together. Wine growing in America was born in Virginia, and when it comes to selling it, the state and the winegrowers can work together . . . to increase the visibility of Virginia’s newest old industry.”

Governor Gerald Baliles

That same year, the first advertising campaign surrounding Virginia Wine Month was launched: To Fully Appreciate A Virginia Autumn, You May Need Glasses. The promotion continued to grow every single year, bringing in restaurants, wine shops, localities, area publications and wineries all celebrating and lifting a glass to Virginia Wine Month in their own way.

Click here to view full image.

The Future

Eight governors later, Virginia’s wine industry has seen tremendous growth and an increase in popularity and respectability. Fresh-faced vintners stepping on Virginia soil for the first time in the 80s are now beloved mentors of a new generation of winemakers who plant their hopes and talent into Virginia soil. Their wines continue to draw in an inquisitive crowd looking for a unique and authentic Virginia experience that can’t be duplicated anywhere else in the world.

What do the next 30 years of Virginia Wine Month hold? We hope you’ll take the journey with us and find out yourself.

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