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09.19.2012  
 

TTB Approves Middleburg Virginia AVA

Northern Virginia area includes 10 commercial vineyards and 14 wineries

 
by Hudson Cattell and Linda Jones McKee
 
 
middleburg virginia ava boxwood
 
Rachel E. Martin of Boxwood Estate Winery (above) led the effort to have Middleburg Virginia approved as an American Viticultural Area.
Middleburg, Va.—Since the Virginia wine industry first revived in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Middleburg has been home to grapes and wine. Archie Smith Jr., owner of Middleburg-based Meredyth Vineyards, planted 2,300 vines in 1972 in a vineyard that later grew to 60 acres.

However, it was not until the opening of some new wineries more recently that the idea of establishing an American Viticultural Area (AVA) gained traction in the Middleburg area. Rachel E. Martin, executive vice president of Boxwood Estate Winery in Middleburg, first started the application process in 2006 in order to allow the new winery to use the term “estate grown.”

The process
After six years of effort on the part of Martin and others in the area, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) established the Middleburg Virginia Viticultural Area in portions of Loudoun and Fauquier counties in northern Virginia. TTB’s final rule was published in the Federal Register on Sept. 13. Middleburg Virginia becomes the state’s seventh AVA.

The Middleburg Virginia AVA is located 50 miles west of Washington, D.C., and is bounded by the Potomac River to the north and by mountains to the east, south and west. It covers approximately 198 square miles (126,720 acres) with 10 commercial vineyards totaling 251 acres and 14 wineries.

Martin, the leader in the process of getting the AVA approved, sent the AVA petition to the TTB in August 2008. The comment period following the issuance of the proposed ruling was extended at the request of the Loudoun Wine Growers Association. Of the 28 comments filed, four of them were objections to the name Middleburg Virginia, on the grounds that the name did not represent the entire region—in particular the portion in Loudoun County (Middleburg is in Fauquier County.) Other names suggested were Northern Virginia, Greater Loudoun, Northern Piedmont and Northern Virginia Piedmont. TTB’s response was that a petition must provide evidence “that currently and directly associates a name with the proposed viticultural area, and that the area be known locally or nationally by that name.” It added that no evidence was submitted by the commenters that would more accurately describe the entire viticultural area.
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Other areas and response
Other existing Virginia AVAs include Eastern Shore AVA, Monticello AVA, North Fork of Roanoke AVA, George Washington Birthplace AVA, Rocky Knob AVA and Shenandoah Valley AVA.

Martin told Wines & Vines, “It was a very long process. TTB was very helpful throughout, and I am very proud that Middleburg Virginia became the 198th AVA in the country.”

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell added, “It’s great news for the Virginia wine industry.”

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