October 5, 2018

Here’s to 30 years of Virginia Wine Month.

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.

More Virginia Wine Stories

October 16, 2023

Harvest Party: A Virginian Celebration

Virginia’s agriculture plays an integral in the Commonwealth. Winemakers across the state have worked tirelessly to perfect their agricultural art and craft wines that are emblematic of our sense of […]

Read More

September 29, 2023

35 Things to Know in Celebration of 35 Years of Virginia Wine Month

October marks the annual celebration of Virginia Wine Month, a time to raise a glass and honor the community of winemakers and wine lovers that set Virginia apart. Since the […]

Read More

September 7, 2023

Make the Most of Virginia Wine Month

October marks the 35th year of Virginia Wine Month. Autumn has a way of highlighting Virginia’s ever-changing landscape. The magic of the season surrounds you. As harvest winds down, the […]

Read More

October 11, 2022

Celebrating Virginia’s Home-Grown Holiday: Harvest Party

October 15th is a day for the Commonwealth to come together to toast the richness of our region with Harvest Party. People in the city, the country and on the […]

Read More

September 22, 2022

Fall into Virginia Wine Month this October

The arrival of fall is celebrated with the annual tradition of Virginia Wine Month. Dating back to 1988, each October is a chance to toast to the bountiful harvest and […]

Read More

October 21, 2021

Unfounded Utterances Every Virginia Sommelier Hears

A guest post by Jason Tesauro, Modern Gentleman These might not be the hills I’ll die upon, but man oh man, I have definitely unsheathed my Laguiole corkscrew in the […]

Read More

October 4, 2021

Toast Local with Harvest Party

Learn How to Celebrate Virginia’s Home-Grown Holiday Each year, on the third Saturday of October, people from all over come together to toast the richness of our region with Harvest […]

Read More

September 21, 2021

Planning for Virginia Wine Month

October is Virginia Wine Month. Dating back to 1988, Virginia Wine lovers from all over have embraced the season by supporting local farmers and producers, adventuring through Virginia’s vineyards and […]

Read More

October 15, 2020

A Guide to Harvest Party

It’s time to celebrate Virginia’s home-grown holiday, Harvest Party. October 17th is a day for the Commonwealth to come together to toast the richness of our region with Harvest Party. People […]

Read More

The Story of Virginia Wine

Learn More