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The latest in Virginia wine news is a decision by the Virginia Wine Board ‘to pursue a marketing plan that will include the designation of Viognier as Virginia’s signature grape for national branding purposes.

As I’ve noted here on a number of occasions, I believe Viognier could be the future of Virginia white wine in terms of gaining prominence in the global marketplace.  Though Viognier can be a major differentiator for Virginia, one challenge with such focus on one grape variety may be the loss of focus (perhaps enthusiasm) for other equally deserving grapes. This of course, is just the opinion of someone with virtually no viticulture or winemaking experience.

As part of the Industry Release, Rock Stephens, Chairman of the Virginia Wine Board, noted the success other regions have had with similar focus on a ‘signature‘ grape as a way to increase attention and drive tourism and sales on all wines for the region – like New York Riesling, Oregon Pinot Noir, Argentina Malbec, and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Of the 191 Virginia wineries, just 74 of them currently produce a Viognier. Will be interesting to see if this new single-varietal focus encourages more wineries to make the investment to produce Viognier.

From a personal perspective this is a timely announcement as I’ve been working on a small side project, a modest e-book of sorts (I emphasize modest).  The working title is ‘Virginia is for Viognier – A Guide to the Viogniers of Virginia.’  Virginia’s Rhone Ranger, Jordan Harris winemaker at Tarara Winery, is graciously writing the Foreword.

The Guide – which is organized by region – is intended to serve as an educational and reference document (in pdf format) for Viognier and/or Virginia wine enthusiasts.  In addition to a brief history of the grape along with the history of Viognier in Virginia, this guide will also contain basic information about each Viognier including the winemaker, alcohol content, residual sugar, aging method, tasting notes as well insights from several winemakers.  A June release date is planned.

No doubt there will be more chatter about Virginia’s newly designated grape.

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