Virginia Among World's Best Wine Travel Destinations

Commonwealth joins California as best U.S. destinations

Romantic getaways to a fine winery used to consist of hoping on a plane and heading west to Napa or east to Italy or France, but not anymore.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s February issue names Virginia as one of the 10 best wine travel destinations for 2012. Even more impressive: It’s one of only three domestic destinations that made the list -- the other two are located in California.

Virginia was named among classically famous wine destinations such as California, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, France, Chile and Hungary.

“Historically significant sites, picturesque pastoral landscapes, elegant equestrians and affable winemakers set Virginia apart as an excellent wine destination on the East Coast,” according to Wine Enthusiast. “With six AVAs and nearly 200 wineries to explore in every part of the state, a comprehensive visit is nearly impossible.” 

Gov. Bob McDonell takes great pride in Virginia’s standing among the other top wine destinations.

“Virginia is in excellent company in this list of Wine Enthusiast’s 10 best wine travel destinations for 2012, and I applaud our wineries and wine makers on this achievement,” he said. “We are well on our way to being recognized as the premiere wine destination of the East Coast, which is one of my administration’s top agricultural and tourism priorities.”

The news isn’t news for McDonnell, who has always held the raising profile of Virginia wines and the tourism it brings as key components of his economic development and job creation initiatives. Virginia wine sales reached a record with more than 462,000 cases sold in 2011. According to a 2005 economic impact study on the then 120 wineries in the commonwealth, Virginia was the country’s fifth-largest wine producer, employing about 3,000 people, and contributing almost $350 million per year to Virginia’s economy.

About 1 million people include a trip to a winery when visiting Virginia.

“Where else in the world can you enjoy bluegrass music at a winery, kayak to a winery, taste local wines at a national park, sip local wines at a National Historic Landmark or bike from winery to winery?” Virginia Tourism Corporation President and CEO Alisa Bailey said. “All those experiences are found in Virginia.”

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