The Virginia wine industry lost a giant yesterday.

David King — father, grandfather, husband, gentleman, avid polo player, leader, friend to many, and co-founder of Crozet-based King Family Vineyards — died yesterday after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Four nights ago, members of the King Family Vineyards team gathered at the annual Monticello Cup Awards event in Charlottesville to accept the Monticello Cup award for the top scoring wine in this year’s competition (for the 2016 Mountain Plains red blend); one of many awards the King Family Vineyards team has garnered in recent years including the coveted Virginia Governor’s Cup last year.

The seeds of King Family Vineyards’ success were planted over two decades ago  when David King, and his wife Ellen, left a busy law practice in Houston to settle in Virginia.  In 1996, the Kings purchased a 327-acre property situated at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the town of Crozet, about 20 minutes west of Charlottesville, that would be home to King Family Vineyards.

In 1998, the Kings planted their first eight acres of vines on the property, beginning a new chapter of their lives and laying the foundation for one of Virginia’s most notable wineries.  

While building King Family Vineyards — including vineyard expansion, new event space, and a polo field — King also played an instrumental role in guiding many pivotal programs for the Virginia wine industry.

He was as committed to advocating on behalf of the entire industry as he was building King Family Vineyards into a producer of world-class wines.

“David’s contributions to the Virginia wine industry can’t be measured,” said Annette Boyd, Director of the Marketing Office of the Virginia Wine Board, who worked with King for over a decade as part of his role on the Virginia Wine Board.

“He lobbied state government on behalf of the entire Virginia wine industry to make sure state legislators were aware of issues affecting wine grape farmers and wineries. He helped create the Virginia Wine Distribution Company to help wineries get their wines to more customers among so many other things.”  

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon computer science professor who delivered the moving lecture, ‘The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,’ about living while battling terminal pancreatic cancer a decade, wrote in his book: “Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.”

During a phone conversation with David a few months ago as part of an article I was writing, I lost count of how many times he spoke the words, “I’m so proud of…”  and “I’m grateful for…” in reference to his family and King Family Vineyards team members.

David exemplified gratitude in his words and deeds and demonstrated truth in the saying, a rising tide lifts all ships.

Sending deepest condolences to Ellen, his three sons Carrington, James and Stuart, his daughter-in-laws Corie, Ali, and Kelly, his grandchildren, and the entire King Family Vineyards team.

Rest in peace, David.

A casual celebration of David’s life will be held June 14th at King Family Vineyards.