Virginia Wine Country Goes All Out


If you’re a local wine lover, you’re in luck. In 2019, yields in Virginia were up 57 percent from the previous year, with northern and western districts continuing to expand production since 2016.

Loudoun County is making its name known as a key county for production in the northern region. The county’s vineyard acreage has nearly doubled and price is increasing incrementally year by year.

Overall, before COVID hit, 17 percent of U.S. leisure travelers were partaking in culinary or wine travel, also known as “enotourism.” There is a general increase in the number of wineries, wine auctions and celebrity-hosted wine events.

One such recent event was Virginia Vine, an annual fundraising event benefitting the V Foundation for Cancer Research. The evening is a sister event to the annual Wine Celebration in Napa, California. In a typical year, celebrities and local and out-of-town wine lovers attend the event to enjoy homegrown Virginia wine and delicious food.

This year’s event, on April 24, was virtual, but that didn’t stop Loudoun County from going all out. Virginia’s Main Event Caterers hand-delivered a feast to guests’ doors. The menu included beef filet, rosemary potatoes, green beans, fish, lobster salad and a smattering of desserts. Of course, Stone Tower Winery, where the broadcast originated, provided a white wine and a red wine to sip at home.

Virginia Vine’s auction gala host this year was Joe Theismann, quarterback of the Super Bowl XVII Champion Washington Football Team. “We’re helping shape a brighter future for those facing cancer,” Theismann said. Country artists Neil Thrasher and Paul Overstreet served as musical guests.

“Although we were primarily virtual this year, it was a dynamic night,” said board member Julie Chase, who chaired the event.

In addition to Virginia Vine, there was an hourlong morning event the same weekend. “Voices for Victory” blended science, sports and a broadcast from Greenhill Winery & Vineyards in Middleburg, Virginia. After a panel of cancer researchers from University of Virginia Health Systems and Virginia Commonwealth University Cancer Center discussed their work, ESPN on-air talent and V Foundation board member Jay Bilas conversed with basketball legends Dereck Whittenburg, a fellow board member, and Ralph Sampson. Corporate sponsors included McGuireWoods, Brandito and George Mason Mortgage.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano, a North Carolina State University basketball coach and ESPN commentator. The foundation has funded over $260 million in cancer research grants throughout the U.S.

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