Gov. Bob McDonnell speaks during an event to unveil Virginia wine blend 1813, a wine made to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Virginia Executive Mansion.
How do you celebrate the 200th birthday of the nation’s oldest continually occupied governor’s mansion? In Virginia, there was only one answer: with a special bottle of wine designed to highlight the state’s growing wine industry. On June 27, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and first lady Maureen McDonnell introduced “1813,” a red wine blended from three different vintages of wine grown and produced in Virginia, during a reception attended by members of the Virginia wine industry and others involved in promoting the 200th anniversary of the Executive Mansion. The event celebrated Virginia’s thriving wine industry, commemorated the bicentennial of the governor’s residence and also paid tribute to Acte 12, passed by the House of Commons in 1619, which required settlers in Virginia to plant and tend at least 10 grapevines.
McDonnell has been a strong supporter of the wine industry since he first became governor. At the reception he noted, “At the beginning of my administration, I made the promotion of Virginia wine and wine tourism key components of my overall economic-development and jobs-creation agenda. I also said that I wanted Virginia to be the East Coast capital of wine and wine tourism. Working with our partners in the Virginia wine industry, we’ve achieved success in both goals. Sales of Virginia wines reached an all-time high last year, and record numbers of tourists are visiting our beautiful wineries. With the unveiling of ‘1813,’ and the national and international marketing push behind it, I believe that we’ll attract even more visitors to our wineries and see sales continue to grow in 2013 and beyond.”
A total of 1,813 bottles of “1813” were produced, but they will not be sold. The wine will be used by the Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office to market and promote further the Virginia wine and wine tourism industries on statewide, national and international fronts.
Planning for the introduction of “1813” began in 2011, when Maureen McDonnell planted 10 Chambourcin vines in the garden of the Executive Mansion to promote the wine industry and to prepare for the 200th anniversary of the Executive Mansion this year. She enlisted the assistance of several Virginia wine experts and supporters, including Barboursville Vineyard
’s general manager and winemaker, Luca Paschina; nationally renowned viticulturist and vineyard consultant, Lucie Morton; King Family Vineyards
’ winemaker, Matthieu Finot; Veritas Vineyard & Winery
winemaker, Emily Pelton, and Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry Todd Haymore.
In August 2012, Maureen McDonnell, Paschina and Haymore harvested fruit from the Chambourcin grapevines at the Executive Mansion and took the grapes to Barboursville Vineyards to be combined and then fermented with grapes from the wineries and vineyards of Virginia Wine Board members. Because board members come from different American Viticulture Areas (AVA) in Virginia, the wine represents the state’s geographic diversity. It was especially appropriate that the wine was made at Barboursville Vineyards, because the winery is located in Orange, Va., on the site of the home of James Barbour, the first governor of Virginia to live in the Executive Mansion.
Paschina led the winemaking process for “1813” with his industry colleagues. It is composed of wine made in 2010 from three wineries, two additional 2011 wines from two wineries, and grapes from five wineries or vineyards and the Executive Mansion in 2012. All the 2012 grapes were fermented together and aged for eight months in French oak barrels. The 2012 wine was then combined with the 2010 and 2011 wines to create the final blend of “1813.”
According to Maureen McDonnell, “Virginia’s ‘1813’ brings together several important pieces of the Commonwealth’s history and the special history of the Executive Mansion. In addition to celebrating our outstanding wine industry, it was a natural tie to bring together our Jamestown roots and Acte 12, the bicentennial anniversary of the Executive Mansion, and honor the first resident of the mansion, James Barbour, as well as Gov. Barbour’s close friend and our third governor, Thomas Jefferson, who is widely credited as being the godfather of the Virginia wine industry from his attempts to grow grapes and make wine at Monticello in the late 1700s and early 1800s.”
Gov. McDonnell’s administration has worked with the state General Assembly to establish a reimbursable tax credit program for the establishment or expansion of vineyards and wineries. Additionally, dollars for research, education and marketing programs placed in the Virginia Wine Promotion fund have almost tripled since 2010.
In the past three fiscal years, the sales of Virginia wines have averaged more than 8% growth per year. Sales of Virginia wine outside the state—both domestic and international—have increased by 39% from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2012. Export sales of Virginia wines grew by more than 300% to more than 3,300 cases during fiscal year 2012; a significant portion of these sales were new sales to China and the United Kingdom.
According to Annette Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Board, Virginia is the nation’s fifth-largest wine grape producer, and according to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 individuals. The Virginia wine industry contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy, and more than 1.6 million tourists visited Virginia wineries in 2011.