The Shenandoah Valley and North Fork of Roanoke American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) are located in Virginia. The North Fork of Roanoke AVA is on the eastern slopes of the Allegheny Mountains. It is about 20 miles long and has altitudes between 1,200 and 2,200 feet. The frost free slopes between 1,700 and 2,100 feet are where some of the best Virginia grapes are grown. The climate has prevailing westerly winds that provide a good airflow for its vineyards. The original petitioner for approval of the North Fork of Roanoke AVA is no longer in operation, but the Virginia AVA is still found on local wine labels (in order to use an AVA on a wine label, 85% of the grapes used to create the wine must have come from that AVA.).
The Shenandoah Valley AVA encompasses many counties in Virginia (Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah, just to name a few) as well as two counties in West Virginia, Berkeley and Jefferson. Bordered by the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as the Appalachian and Allegheny Plateaus, this Shenandoah Valley wine region grows a wide variety of Vitis labrusca, Vitis vinifera, and French hybrid grapes due to its (relatively) dry and warm climate, as well as its fertile soil. Below are just a few of the wineries, vineyards and wines of these Virginia AVAs.
Valhalla Vineyards. Located in Roanoke, Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this winery has been growing grapes and creating award winning wines since 1998. Over 20 acres of vineyards grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and other wine grapes. Valhalla was the first vineyard outside of California to produce Alicante Bouschet, and among the first in Virginia to grow Syrah grapes. The wines of this Virginia winery have won both national and international awards, including the Governor’s Cup. Their Valhalla Viognier 2005 is an outstanding example of their classic Virginia wines, with aromas of apricot and citrus fruits and flavors of pineapple and vanilla. For another excellent Virginia wine, sample their Sangiovese, a spicy wine with aromas of strawberries and flavors of plum and blueberry. And be sure to try their Syrah, a bold red wine with aromas of pepper and spice followed by flavors of licorice and black currant. For more information on this Virginia winery and its wines, click here.
Blue Ridge Vineyards. This Virginia vineyard, planted in 1985, produces some outstanding handcrafted wines, including Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Noir. Try their Shenandoah Valley Riesling, which has aromas of both floral and citrus, and the crisp flavor of green apples. Their Cabernet Franc is also excellent, a bold red wine with spicy aromas and flavors of black currant and plum. For more information on this Shenandoah Valley winery and its wines, click here.
Crooked Run Cellars. For wines that truly capture the unique flavors created by the Shenandoah Valley’s climate and soil, be sure to try a few from this Virginia winery. Sample their 2006 Petite Verdot, a bold wine with spicy aromas and flavors that include blueberry and cocoa. Also try their 2009 Shenandoah Valley Chardonnay, aged in stainless steel tanks, which has aromas of apple and citrus, followed by flavors of tropical fruit and pear. For more information on this Virginia winery and its wines, click here.