Richard Leahy, Conference Manager of the Eastern Winery Expo, author of Beyond Jefferson’s Vines, member of the Circle of Wine Writers –  has been a distinctive presence on the eastern wine scene for close to forty years. The Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association is pleased to name Mr. Leahy the Birchenall Award winner 2023.
An acknowledged expert on eastern wines, Richard was tasked with editing the Mid-Atlantic and Southern components for the ground-breaking Oxford Companion to the Wines of North America (2000). He also was tapped to be a regional editor for Kevin Zraly’s American Wine Guide. His own Beyond Jefferson’s Vines: The Evolution of Quality Wine in Virginia (2012), an encyclopedic compilation of the wineries of Virginia, is now in its third edition.

Based in Charlottesville, the heart of Virginia wine country, Richard travels frequently to explore both established and emerging American wine regions. His extensive contacts in the industry positioned him perfectly to act as Event Manager of the Eastern Winery Expo, of which he was one of the founders. Next year’s conference in Pennsylvania in March features such notable personalities as Lucie Morton, Tom Payette, and Joyce Rigby of Boxwood Vineyards among others.

The Birchenall Award is given to members of the wine media for providing insight into the wines of the East Coast wine industry. The late Michael Birchenall founded the trade publication Foodservice Monthly in 2002, just as the restaurant scene was beginning to take off in the Mid-Atlantic region. “The local wine industry was growing at the same time, and Birchenall’s publication helped foster a sense of community among the various parts of the food and wine industries,” according to Dave McIntyre, noted wine columnist at The Washington Post.
Past winners of the award include Virginia wine writer Nancy Bauer, creator of the Virginia Wine in My Pocket app; well-known wine curmudgeon Lenn Thompson of The Cork Report, whose current battle with Wine Enthusiast is always interesting reading; and Paul Vigna of PA Media Group, which includes and The Patriot-News.

The Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association promotes American wine produced in the seventeen eastern states: all those that touch the Atlantic Ocean plus West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Vermont. This trade organization was founded in 1973 as the Vinifera Wine Growers Association, and renamed in 2008 to reflect an expanded regional focus.
ASWA’s mission is to increase awareness of the fine wines of the Atlantic seaboard through trade and consumer education. Members liaise with national, state, and regional wine organizations to identify opportunities to highlight the wines and winemakers working here.

Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association
P.O. Box 11332     Burke, VA 22009
(703) 280-4411    Email: