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Ultimate Guide to Virginia Wine Country

By: Heather Kolich

Virginia's Signature Wines

In 2007, Virginia made Travel + Leisure magazine's top five list of worldwide wine regions worth visiting. Virginia growers cultivate all types of grapes, including traditional French varieties, native American vines and hybrids of the two, and the state's varietals of viognier, cabernet franc and Virginia norton, have earned praise from wine experts around the world.

"As a wine style, viognier represents Virginia," Pearmund said. Sweet honeysuckle aromas draw you into the citrus and apricot spark of this signature white wine.

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Cabernet franc, a grape from France's Loire Valley, is usually blended with other grapes, but not in Virginia; with spice, berry and cocoa richness, it's one of the state's don't-miss reds, as is Virginia norton, which has hints of coffee and spice.

Pearmund is optimistic about the industry's future. "People want to know more about their food and want more identification with their food products."

Many wineries on Virginia's wine trails cater to this desire with classes related to viticulture. Take a look at some on the next page.