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What Grapevines Are Recommended for Virginia?

vineyard 2 image by Mograph from

If you live in Virginia, you know the winters can be cold and the summers will be hot and humid, not unlike the climate in Italy or southern France where grapes historically have been planted. The Virginia Tech website lists over 100 commercial vineyards and wineries in the state, so there is no doubt that you can grow grapes very successfully in the area; it is just a matter of choosing which variety suits your specific site.

Red Wine Grapes

The number of red wine grape vines grown in Virginia is much fewer than the white grape vines. The main reason being the high heat and long growing season needed by many of the red wine grapes. Some of the vines grown in many of the vineyards of Virginia are Cabernet Franc, a French light red wine used in blends: Syrah also known as Shiraz, a French wine now popular in Australia: and Pinot noir, a French red grape from Burgundy, known for being cold hardy.

White Wine Grapes

Virginia has produced a healthy list of white wine grape vines that grow well in the area. The hilly areas along the Blue Ridge Mountains are perfect for the cooler hardy white varietals. Types like Chardonel, a hybrid hardier than its Seyval and Chardonney parents; the difficult to grow but delicious golden Viogner grapes and the famous German Reisling grape vines all thrive in the cooler temperatures. You can include the Seyval grape hybrid, popular to the Hudson River Valley; the Traminette, a hardy grape hybrid of Gew├╝rztraminer; and the Vidal Blanc, another hybrid known for its cold hardiness (now grown in Canada for ice wines).

Native Varietals

These are a class of grape vines that are known for being American grapes, even though they might originate from other countries several centuries ago. The Niagara, a fast-growing, short seasoned white grape called "white concord"; the Cayuga white grape, high-yielding vine; the Muscat which is probably the oldest domesticated grape with white to purple, large fruits; and the Norton American red grape, now very widespread but without the foxiness of wild grapes.

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