Jeff White Named “Grape Grower of the Year” at Annual VVA Meeting
Jeff White, proprietor of Glen Manor Vineyards near Front Royal, was named “Grape Grower of the Year” by the Virginia Vineyards Association at their annual meeting at the Charlottesville Omni. VVA President Tom Kelly noted that White had worked with Virginia Tech viticulturist Tony Wolf and had apprenticed with leading winegrower Jim Law of Linden Vineyards before starting his own vineyard in 1995. In 2012, White won the Virginia Governor’s Cup with his 2009 Hodder Hill, a single vineyard red Bordeaux blend.
“Winning the Governor’s Cup was fantastic, but this award gets me at the heart,” remarked White. He thanked both Jim Law and Tony Wolf for their support, “without which I wouldn’t be here. I look forward to the day when some young person gets the award and says I helped them get there.”
The award was presented by VA Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore, who is staying on in his post under the new administration of Terry McAuliffe. “The new Governor has told me he plans to work with this industry very closely,” says Haymore.
VVA Treasurer Kay Thompson says that the registration for the annual meeting has reached a record this year, with 300 attendees and an overflow list of industry suppliers exhibiting.
Annette Boyd, head of the Virginia Wine Marketing Office, reported that in the four years from 2008-2012 the number of Virginia wineries grew by 70% while the number of cases sold grew by 28%. On a more somber note, VVA President Tom Kelly noted that new vineyard acreage is essentially flat, making the establishment of more winegrape acreage “the top priority” of the VVA.
On out-of-state marketing, Boyd explained that initiatives in South Carolina and New York City had brought “palpable” interest with the trade and media. One success story had to do with making an important impression with Chris Matthews of the Wine Spectator. Spanish celebrity Chef Jose Andres was asked to choose a wine to match one of his dishes, which was served to a public audience. Matthews chose another wine, and the public was asked to vote their preference on the wine matched to the food; Andres’ choice was the clear favorite, which was a red Bordeaux-style blend from RdV Vineyards in Delaplane.
“When Matthews saw the results, he made a note to himself that he needed to learn more about Virginia wine,” explained Boyd, and when he got back to his office, there was a case of the Governor’s Case [top 12 wines from the VA Governor’s Cup Competition] waiting for him to taste and review.”
The Virginia Wine Expo will take place in a month at the Richmond Convention Center, kicked off by a gala tasting and presentation of the Governor’s Cup at the John Marshall Hotel on Feb. 27th. In the month of March, says Boyd, a major new initiative called March Wine & Dine will promote Virginia wine through partnerships with restaurateurs across the state.
For details on this and other public programs and events, visit www.virginiawine.org.