News / USA

Virginia Winemakers Come On Strong

State ranks sixth in production nationwide

Master winemaker Sebastien Marquet checks the vines at the Doukenie winery in Purcellville, Virginia.
Master winemaker Sebastien Marquet checks the vines at the Doukenie winery in Purcellville, Virginia.

Multimedia

Jeff Swicord

Wine is produced in all 50 U.S. states, with California, Oregon and Washington leading the way. However, with its abundance of rich farmland and plenty of sunshine and rain in the summer months, wine connoisseurs are keeping on eye on the East Coast state of Virginia.

That's where master winemaker Sebastien Marquet is plying his trade. The Frenchman’s job at the Doukenie winery in Purcellville, Virginia - the heart of wine country - is the culmination of a childhood dream.

“I was studying winemaking when I was 13-and-a-half in Burgundy," he said. "My horticulture teacher asked, ‘What do you want to do later?’ And for me it was, ‘Oh, I would like to make wine in the U.S.’”

After making wine in Burgundy, Marquet started the first vineyard on the Caribbean island of Martinique. He then moved to the U.S., making wine in California’s Sonoma Valley. But coming to Virginia offered him the opportunity to work on a smaller scale, developing new wines in an emerging winemaking region.

“You need a lot of parameters to make good wine," he says. "You need good land, with some sun and the passion of people. And, in Virginia, I think this is really what it is. People have the passion of the wine industry.”

Thirty years ago, there were six wineries in the state. Today, Virginia has more than 200 and is ranked sixth in production behind California, Washington, Oregon, New York and Texas.  

Lobbyist Michael Kaiser with Wine America expects Virginia’s prominence to continue to grow.

“I think they will pass Texas. They are not going to get close to New York. Because New York has about 200 more wineries," he says. "But I think they will consistently be the fifth wine producing state in the country.”

When Marquet came to Doukenie four years ago, the winery - which has yet to turn a profit - was producing 1,500 cases a year. Today it produces about 3,500 cases. The goal is to produce up to 8,000 in another four years.  

California wineries often produce 10 times that. But the owners of Doukenie want to keep things small and sell their wine directly from the winery, avoiding large distributors.

“I don’t want to go to distribution," Marquet says. "Going to the distribution is very difficult for a small winery like us. We have to cut the price down 50 percent to go to the distribution.  So, we are not quite ready to cut the price down 50 percent when we have small volume.”

In order to produce more wine, Doukenie needs more vineyards so Marquet is putting in two more hectares of vines this year.

“We got the vine from California. And they come from the cold room," he says. "So, immediately after the heat, the bud break quickly. So, we have five days to put them in the ground, that’s it.”

He will plant some of the common wine varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Merlot. But also Cabernet Franc, a grape that develops in a unique character when grown in Virginia.

“The weather, the soil, the 'terroire' [earth], work very well for these grapes," he says. "So I put the Cab Franc on a slope and we will have afternoon sun hitting the grapes. And exposing the sun to the grapes will make them express in a way that will give a more black peppery flavor.”

Marquet knows what he's talking abuot. Doukenie’s Cab Franc won a gold medal in 2007 and a silver in 2008 from the San Francisco Chronicle.

With constant care and a dose of winemaking passion, the new vines will produce their first vintage in five years. And with the additional vineyards, there should be enough wine for Doukenie to turn its first profit.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid