Virginia is an east-coast state of the USA, located immediately south of Maryland and north of the Carolinas. The state covers 42,750 square miles (110, 750 square km) of mountains, valleys, and the complex Atlantic coastline which forms its eastern boundary.
From the Cumberland and Blue Ridge mountains in the west to the creeks and coastal estuaries of the east, Virginia's topography and geology are varied to say the least. The landscape around Chesapeake Bay – a vast coastal inlet which separates the main state from its Eastern Shore – could hardly be more different from that below the 5730ft (1750m) Mt Rogers, 300 miles (480km) to the west.
The Monticello AVA is the oldest, formed in February 1984 and located around Charlottesville in central Virginia. It has the honor of having been home to Thomas Jefferson, his extensive collection of French wines, and the state's earliest vinifera vineyard. One presidential connection is not sufficient for the state dubbed The Mother of Presidents (eight US presidents were born here); Virginia is also home to the snappily-named Northern Neck George Washington Birthplace AVA on the western shores of Chesapeake Bay.
Chardonnay is the most widely planted variety here, riding on its wave of global popularity. It is followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and the Rhone Valley variety Viognier, which is now making some of Virginia's most famous wines.
Winegrowing here dates back to the early 1600s, when the Virginia Company of London determined that settlers at Jamestown were obliged to cultivate European vines – an experiment that was unsuccessful due to the fungal diseases that thrived in the humid climate (although the use of native varieties rendered better results). Nowadays, however, vinifera varieties dominate Virginia's vineyards – a change made possible through the use of modern technology and viticultural techniques. These include efficient canopy management and the use of fungicides, as well as an increasing emphasis on judicious site selection.
The quantity of wine produced in Virginia has risen dramatically in recent decades. In the 1970s, the state had just a small handful of wineries; now there are more than 100, and the number is increasing each year. Wine tourism is of increasing importance here, which, along with the increase in wine quality and quantity, suggests a bright future for the state's wine industry.