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Jefferson Vineyards Wine Blog


Heather Lavelle
March 15, 2023 | Heather Lavelle

Virginia Governor's Cup Awards

Chris Ritzcovan, Winemaker, next to Governor Youngkin

We are deeply honored and humbled to have been recognized with two of the top twelve wines in this year’s Virginia Governor’s Cup competition! February 23rd, at the Virginia Governor’s Cup Gala in Richmond, our 2019 Meritage and 2021 Petit Manseng won gold medals and made it into the Governor’s Cup Case. 

As well, we received two other gold medals for our 2019 Petit Verdot Reserve “Upper Vineyard” and 2019 Petit Verdot Reserve. That's four total gold medals with two being in the Governor’s Case!

What a spectacular night and an amazing accomplishment!!

Every year Virginia wineries enter this prestigious competition vying for the coveted Governor’s Cup (the top wine in the state). This year 614 wines were entered, and 142 gold medals were awarded. Within the 142 golds, twelve were selected to be in the Governor’s Case and one of those received the prestigious Governor’s Cup. 

The tradition and elegance of Meritage continues with our 2019 vintage. This Bordeaux style wine is a blend of 45% Merlot, 40% Petit Verdot, 12% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Malbec. Entirely estate grown and aged 20 months in oak. Decadent red fruit and cedar on the nose, with flavors of cocoa, currant and macadamia nuts.  The finish is round with medium tannins. This red blend is age worthy, detailed, and precisely balanced.

Our 2021 Petit Manseng was sourced from Silver Creek Orchard in Nelson County. We have partnered with Silver Creek for over a decade. With a different microclimate, their fruit provides a varying degree of flavors and textures. Our 2021 was aged 6 months in oak to provide balance. Petit Manseng needs to be tamed. Honey, tropical notes, and spice on the nose lead into a full-bodied palate of pineapple and stone fruit flavors.  Hint of grapefruit lend to the bright, lengthy finish.

Here are some of the notes from the prestigious judges.

2019 Meritage- Nose: “Black cherry, herbal notes.” “Black currants, tart blueberries, purple flowers, thyme and other herbs, wood and cedar, potting soil.” Palate: “Cedar, black currant leaf, blackberry jam, wet leaves.” “Flavors of blackberry, black cherry, rounded medium tannins, pleasant aftertaste of blackberry, black cherry.”

2021 Petit Manseng- Nose: “Refreshing, tangy flavors of lime zest, pineapple, ripe peaches.” “Bright citrus and tropical notes.” Palate: “Verdant notes, fruit fresh. Brisk acidity, good balance, lengthy finish of complexity and nuance.” “Bright acidity, rich texture, nice concentration, nice complexity, long finish.”

2019 Petit Verdot Reserve “Upper Vineyard”- Nose: “violet, licorice, blackberry, explosive!! Wow!” “Floral, violet, licorice, black fruit.” Palate: “Blackberry, tannic backbone, violets”. “Dry, flavors follow nose, silky mouth feel, ripe tannins, medium length.”

2019 Petit Verdot Reserve- Nose: “powerful nose, with black currants, spices, purple lavender and violets, some peppery notes.” “Cedarwood, oak spice, dark fruits.” Palate: “Palate is soft and jammy, very nice. Other notes as above, with some cocoa introduced. Nice wine, nice finish that is jammy, but still elegant and nuanced. Nice work here.” “Silky, bold tannins, rich texture, dense ripe fruit, nice concentration and complexity, long finish.”

A big thank you to the entire Jefferson Vineyards team that made this all happen! Remember wine is “made” in the vineyard. Our vineyard team is second to none. And we adore them! Let’s celebrate this momentous accomplishment.

We also want to congratulate our fellow Monticello Wine Trail colleagues at Delfosse Vineyards for taking home the 2023 Virginia Governor's Cup. Great job friends!

Time Posted: Mar 15, 2023 at 12:00 PM Permalink to Virginia Governor's Cup Awards Permalink
Attila Woodward
April 27, 2022 | Attila Woodward

Jefferson Vineyards Wins Twice

We are deeply honored to have been recognized with two of the six top best wines in this year's Monticello Cup Competition.  Jefferson Vineyards won one of the top three best white wines for its 2019 Chardonnay Reserve.  It also won one of the top three best red wines in the red wine category for its 2019 Merlot Reserve.  We are humbled to have won a top place in both the red and white categories - the only winery to have received this distinction in the competition.  

Every year the Monticello Wine Trail, a gathering of some thirty-three wineries in the Monticello American Viticultural Area, hosts the Monticello Cup Competition.  The competition selects the top wines produced. Though a small competition, this region represents some of Virginia’s most consistently and highly awarded wineries - making this win even more special.

About The Wines

Our 2019 Chardonnay Reserve is an elegantly balanced wine and a winemaker’s favorite white wine.  Light toast and spice are greeted with flavors of pear and apple. This well-integrated wine finishes with citrus notes and great length. It was aged nine months in oak and drinks beautifully alone or paired with savory dishes of grilled shellfish and roasted white meats.  We are delighted that this beautiful Chardonnay is receiving the attention it deserves. 

Since releasing our 2019 Merlot Reserve two months ago, it has already garnered two gold medals.  The first gold was awarded by the 2022 Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition.  This wine greets your nose with currant, vanilla, and toasted fig.  The medium tannins and earthy qualities on the palate are balanced with black cherry and black tea notes.  The finish is long with black fruit.  Our 2019 Merlot Reserve pairs with soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert or lean meats like beef or pork tenderloin with butter sauce.

Blessed with a rich Jeffersonian wine history, we are overjoyed to be a part of this winemaking vision.  To do so with Chardonnay and Merlot makes it more special as these varietals now join the highly awarded ranks of our Viognier, Meritage, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot wine programs.  

Many congratulations to our winemaking and vineyard team, who continue to experiment and learn from this land.  A land where Thomas Jefferson and Philip Mazzei once cultivated Virginia’s dream of a winemaking endeavor that has become a reality today.

For a limited time you can order a special bundle of these wines with free shipping and a 10% discount.  Click here to order.

Our winemaker, Chris Ritzcovan (left) and Tasting Room Manager, Ashe Stone (right) share the cups honoring the best three reds and best three whites.

Time Posted: Apr 27, 2022 at 11:41 AM Permalink to Jefferson Vineyards Wins Twice Permalink
Anabelle Nuelle
June 23, 2021 | Anabelle Nuelle

Caring for Our Community

For forty years, we have been fortunate to be a part of the Charlottesville community. We have hosted festivals, welcomed loved ones to our grounds, enjoyed music together, and spent time with one another beneath an expansive Virginian sky. We have served as stewards of this historic land, investing in the wellbeing of its inhabitants and ecosystems. Just as we have cared for the land, we are caring for this community.

In celebration of our 40th Anniversary, Jefferson Vineyards has partnered with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, to support its mission of alleviating hunger throughout the Blue Ridge Area. The challenges of the past year continue to shake many members of our precious community. Accordingly, we have committed to a donation capable of providing approximately 48,000 meals across the Thomas Jefferson Service Area. 

Should you wish to join us in supporting this worthy cause, please find a donation link here

Time Posted: Jun 23, 2021 at 10:45 AM Permalink to Caring for Our Community Permalink
Anabelle Nuelle
April 20, 2021 | Anabelle Nuelle

A Toast to Forty Years

To Thomas Jefferson, wine was a "necessity of life." [1].  In a glass, he seemed to see a benefit to health, to culture, and to society. In his founding vision of our young country, he perceived a place for wine and carved a place for our first commercial viticultural endeavor in Albemarle County. It is on that same land that our forty-year legacy continuing Jefferson's vision began. 

The Founding Vision 

In 1773, convinced by Benjamin Franklin and sponsored by Thomas Adams, a friend of Jefferson’s, prominent Italian viticulturalist, Philip Mazzei, arrived in Virginia.[2] Mazzei shared Jefferson’s vision of planting vines and bringing to the new world the centuries old viticultural tradition. On his way to land promised to him, he and Thomas Adams paid a visit to Monticello. Without hesitation, Jefferson persuaded Mazzei to conduct his agricultural endeavors not on the separate tracts of land promised to him, but as his neighbor. Jefferson offered Mazzei land adjacent to his own, land that is a part of our present-day property, just south of Monticello.[3]

One year later, Mazzei established a commercial agricultural company for “the purpose of raising and making wine, oil, agruminous plants and silk” with the support of 38 shareholders including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson himself.[4] Mazzei was taken with his land, later exclaiming “In my opinion, when the country is populated in proportion to its extent, the best wine in the world will be made here…I do not believe that nature is so favorable to growing vines in any country as this.”[5] Mazzei was deeply moved by American politics, he declared himself a patriot and first suggested the famous words “All men are created equal”.[6] Though his precious vines were later trampled by the horses of a Hessian General, Mazzei anticipated the success of Virginia wine and supported Jefferson’s own viticultural vision for the new world.[7]

Pioneers in Virginia Wine

Centuries later, Shirley and Stanley Woodward Sr. saw the same viticultural potential in the land. The Woodwards purchased the Colle property on the advice of their close friends, Major General “Pa” Watson and Mrs. Watson, whose own nearby Kenwood home was frequently visited by President F.D. Roosevelt. The Woodwards commissioned Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s distant cousin to construct their house atop of the foundation of Mazzei’s original home. There, the couple entertained a range of friends, family, and dignitaries. On numerous occasions, they hosted President Harry S. Truman, the first of which coincided with the Roswell UFO incident.

Having lived in Paris, Stanley Woodward was passionate about European wines, like Jefferson. At each of the Woodward's gatherings, a bottle of wine stood at the center of the table, a centerpiece around which colorful conversations took place. To share wines crafted from their historic land with their guests, Stanley and Shirley Woodward Sr. hired Gabriele Rausse. Like Mazzei, Rausse came to Virginia from Italy and brought with him rich viticultural expertise, and revived Jefferson’s viticultural vision.

Having previously played a critical role in instituting Barboursville Vineyards, Rausse became our first winemaker. In 1981, he planted European grapes such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Rausse himself came to be regarded as the Father of Virginian wine. Virginia was in its infancy as a growing region; there existed no expertise to reference as Rausse experimented with varietals and the Woodwards continued to invest in the vineyards. Only a handful of other wineries existed in the region at the time and success followed after a tedious process of trial, error, resilience, and impassioned perseverance. Yet, the Woodwards and Rausse saw in the land the same potential Mazzei recognized. As pioneers in Virginian wine, the Woodwards strove to provide a home for Virginia’s early wine talent.

Incubators of Talent

In 1993, the second generation of Woodwards, Marie Jose and Stanely Jr., took the reins and committed themselves to elevate the characteristics of our wine. Following Rausse, the Woodwards recruited Michael Shaps to Virginia. Shaps greatly advanced the quality of our wine and is now a renowned figure in the present-day Virginia wine industry. The French Frantz Ventre followed Shaps, and created intricate nonfiltered wines that aged beautifully. In their last decade at the vineyards, they hired Andy Reagan. Reagan furthered the quality of our red wines and garnered much acclaim.

In 2013, the third generation of Woodwards came to the helm of Jefferson Vineyards, and with them came a new winemaker. Chris Ritzcovan continued the legacy of merit set by the talents before him. With his expertise, our Viognier program in particular shines as an emblem of consistency and excellence. With each winemaker and every vintage came an opportunity to advance our craftsmanship, to continue in Jefferson’s viticultural vision, and to propel forward the reputation of Virginia as a wine destination.

Our Place

Tucked between Jefferson’s Monticello and Monroe’s Highland, our land first defined our story. Here, Mazzei began his early attempt to realize Jefferson’s viticultural dream. It is this same land that attracted Shirley and Stanley Woodward and inspired them to create European wines like those which so enamored Jefferson. It is to this land that we today welcome our patrons and on which we strive to produce high-quality wine.

Though our visitors see only a small fraction of our property, our estate span 700 acres nestled between Carter Mountain and two presidential homes. The Woodwards began caring for this historic land before we made our first wine, placing nearly 700 acres of land under conservation easement in perpetuity to protect it from development for generations to come. We have invested in the health of our land and its inhabitants, from caring for our orchards and vineyards by hand, to the eight acres of wildflowers planted to support pollinators, and to the 12,500 tulip poplar trees planted to improve the health of our ecosystem.

Just as we have cared for the land, we are investing the care for our community. In celebration of our 40th Anniversary, Jefferson Vineyards has partnered with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and committed to a donation capable of funding approximately 48,000 meals across the Thomas Jefferson service area.

A Toast to Forty Years 

We have faced trials and tribulations over our forty-year heritage, but none have been so great as to deter us from pursuing Thomas Jefferson’s viticultural dream on the land it was first attempted. Here, we drew inspiration from the efforts of Philip Mazzei and Thomas Jefferson to create a legacy establishing and advancing the reputation of Virginian wine. Our Viognier and Petit Verdot programs continue in this pursuit.

Over the course of these four decades, we have expanded and experimented with a range of wines in a ceaseless effort to share with our patrons the best expressions of our craft. We have created a broad range of traditional wines and experimented with unique grape varieties and production techniques. In every glass we have tasted and every bottle we have shared, we continue in our founding legacy and find endless reason to continue forward. 

To celebrate our 40th Anniversary and all we have accomplished together, we are revealing the rich details of our history and craftsmanship by opening our cellars to offer monthly limited vintage releases. Additionally, we will share the details of our story and the wines that have defined us over the decades through our blog. 

We thank our patrons and the Virginia wine industry for their ceaseless support. Please join us as we raise a glass to the years to come - the bright future ahead for Virginia, its wine, and us all. 



[1] Thomas Jefferson memorial association of the United States, et al. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Definitive ed. / Washington, D.C.: Issued under the auspices of the Thomas Jefferson memorial association of the United States, 1905

[2] Marchione, Life and Wanderings, 184-87, 202, 203

[3] From Thomas Jefferson to James Strange, 18 September 1806,” Founders Online, National Archives,

[4]“Plan of Philip Mazzei’s Agricultural Company, 1774,” Founders Online, National Archives,

[5] Sacalia, S. Eugene. “Chapter 16: Albemarle County – 1773 – 1779, Wild Grapes.” Philip Mazzei: My Life & Wanderings, edited by Margherita Marchione, by Philip Mazzei, American Institute of Italian Studies, 1980 pp 212.

[6] United States, Congress, Cong. House – Post Office and Civil Service. Designating October 1993 and October 1994 as “Italian-American Heritage and Culture Mont, 1994. 103rd Congress, 2nd Session, Bill H.J.Res.175, 1994.

[7] Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, January 25, 1793, in PTJ, 25:92. Transcription available at Founders Online.

Time Posted: Apr 20, 2021 at 9:00 AM Permalink to A Toast to Forty Years Permalink
Anabelle Nuelle
April 13, 2021 | Anabelle Nuelle

Viognier & Petit Verdot - A Record of Excellence

Every year, we submit our wines to a select few competitions around the country in acknowledgment of our dedication to our craft and in an effort to demonstrate the merit of Virginian wines nationwide.  We have been honored with many awards but are especially proud of the accolades our Viognier and Petit Verdot have received, as these varietals have defined Jefferson Vineyards and Virginia alike.


2019 Viognier

DOUBLE GOLD - San Francisco International Wine Competition 2020

93 POINTS - Vinepair 2020, The Twenty-Eight Best White Wines for 2021

GOLD - Virginia Governor's Cup 2021

GOLD - Savor Virginia Magazine, Reader's Choice Awards 

2019 Estate Reserve White
100% Viognier

DOUBLE GOLD - San Francisco International Wine Competition 2021

GOLD - San Francisco International Wine Competition 2020

2018 Viognier

DOUBLE GOLD - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2020

GOLD, BEST OF VIOGNIER - Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition 2019

90 POINTS - American Wine Society 2020

89 POINTS - Wine Enthusiast 2019

2017 Estate Reserve White

100% Viognier

GOLD - San Francisco International Wine Competition 2019

2017 Skin Contact Viognier 

GOLD - San Francisco International Wine Competition 2020

2016 Viognier

GOLD - San Francisco International Wine Competition 2017

GOLD - Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition 2017

GOLD, GOVERNOR'S CASE - Virginia Governor's Case 2018

2015 Viognier

DOUBLE GOLD - San Francisco International Wine Competition 2017

GOLD, GOVERNOR'S CASE - Virginia Governor's Cup 2018

GOLD - Jefferson Cup 2016

2015 Estate Reserve White

58% Viognier

GOLD - Monticello Cup 2017

2013 Viognier

PLATINUM - Virginia Wine Lover Magazine 2014

DOUBLE GOLD - San Francisco International Wine Competition 2014

2012 Viognier

CUP WINNER - Jefferson Cup 2013

2011 Viognier

MEDAL OF EXCELLENCE - Jefferson Cup 2012

2009 Viognier

PLATINUM - International Eastern Wine Competition 2010

PLATINUM - VAWL Classic 2010

PLATINUM, BEST OF CLASS - Lodi Wine Awards 2010

GOLD - Monticello Cup 2010

GOLD - Sommeliers Challenge 2010

GOLD - Tasters Guild International 2010

GOLD - Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition 2010

2008 Viognier

GOLD - San Francisco International Wine Competition 2009

DOUBLE GOLD - Jefferson Cup 2009

GOLD - San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge 2009

2007 Viognier

DOUBLE GOLD - Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition 2008

DOUBLE GOLD - International Eastern Wine Competition 2008

GOLD - Indianapolis International 2008

GOLD - San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge 2008

GOLD - Tasters Guild International 2008

Petit Verdot 

2019 Petit Verdot 

91 POINTS - American Wine Society

2017 Petit Verdot 

GOLD - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2020

2016 Petit Verdot 

90 POINTS - Wine Enthusiast 2019

89 POINTS - American Wine Society 2020

2016 Estate Reserve

100% Petit Verdot

GOLD - Virginia Governor's Cup 2021

89 POINTS - Wine Enthusiast 2019

2014 Petit Verdot 

GOLD, GOVERNOR'S CASE  - Virginia Governor's Cup 2017

GOLD - San Francisco Chronicle International Wine Competition 2017

GOLD - San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2018

2014 Estate Reserve

100% Petit Verdot

GOLD - Monticello Cup 2018

90 POINTS - Wine Enthusiast 2018

2012 Petit Verdot 

GOLD - Virginia Wine Lover Magazine 2014

2012 Estate Reserve

42% Petit Verdot

GOLD - Monticello Cup 2015

GOLD - Monticello Cup 2016

2009 Petit Verdot 

GOLD - San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge 2010

2008 Petit Verdot

DOUBLE GOLD - Jefferson Cup 2009

GOLD - Tasters Guild International 2010

GOLD - Monterey International Wine Competition 2010

GOLD - VAWL Classic 2010

2007 Petit Verdot 

GOLD - Virginia Governor's Cup 2009

GOLD - Tasters Guild International 2009

2005 Petit Verdot 

GOLD - Monticello Cup 2008

Petit Verdot Driven Meritage

2016 Meritage 

55% Petit Verdot, 25% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec

GOLD - Virginia Governor's Cup 2019

GOLD - Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition 2019

2015 Meritage

34% Petit Verdot, 26% Cabernet Franc, 24% Merlot, 13% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon 

90 POINTS - Wine Enthusiast 2018

2014 Meritage

36% Petit Verdot, 35% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon

GOLD - Virginia Governor's Cup 2018

GOLD - Monticello Cup 2017

2013 Meritage

47% Petit Verdot, 21% Merlot, 19% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon

89 POINTS - Wine Enthusiast 2018

2012 Meritage

47% Petit Verdot, 28% Merlot, 16% Cabernet Franc, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon

GOLD - Virginia Governor's Cup 2015

GOLD - Virginia Governor's Cup 2017

90 POINTS - International Wine Review Report 2015

89 POINTS, EDITOR'S CHOICE -  Wine Enthusiast October 2015

Time Posted: Apr 13, 2021 at 10:00 AM Permalink to Viognier & Petit Verdot - A Record of Excellence Permalink
Anabelle Nuelle
March 9, 2021 | Anabelle Nuelle

We are Open!

We will now be open 11 am - 6 pm, Thursday through Sunday. With the cold behind us and the sun in the sky, we are so excited to welcome you back to our property in view of Monticello. When you arrive at our gate, you’ll notice a few exciting changes including a large tent to offer you shelter from the rain or shade from the sun. In our menu, you’ll find our semi-sweet Vin Blanc wine now included in our Mixed Flight and a Malbec (our only vintage) offered by the glass and in our Red Flight.

To kick off the season, we hope you'll enjoy our Limited Release Vintages and Wine Shop. Our Viognier 2019, Cabernet Franc 2019, and Petit Verdot-based Jefferson's Own Estate Reserve 2016 were each awarded Gold Medals in the 2021 Virginia Governor's Cup. We are honored to receive recognition for varietals that define Virginia as a wine-growing region. 

Please note, we are now accepting groups of 8 including children. Masks are required and though we have more space available, we will close our gates once parking capacity is reached. Please visit our Visitation Policies page for additional detail.

We cannot wait to welcome you back to celebrate our 40th Anniversary together. Cheers!

Time Posted: Mar 9, 2021 at 10:00 AM Permalink to We are Open! Permalink
Anabelle Nuelle
March 2, 2021 | Anabelle Nuelle

Virginia Governor's Cup Honors Jefferson Vineyards with Three Gold Medals

Jefferson Vineyards is thrilled to be awarded three gold medals in the 2021 Virginia Governor’s Cup. Our 2019 Viognier, 2019 Cabernet Franc, and our Petit Verdot based 2016 Jefferson’s Own Estate Reserve each was awarded gold medals, highlighting the quality of fruit and craftsmanship across Jefferson Vineyards' wines.

 The accolades awarded by the Virginia Governor’s Cup celebrate the craftsmanship of our winemaking team, Chris Ritzcovan and David Woodside, as well as the hard work of our vineyard team. Their combined efforts and ceaseless commitment continue our 40-year tradition of crafting high-quality wine.

Jefferson Vineyards is honored by the recognition our Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot based Estate Reserve have received. Each of these varietals defines Virginia as a growing region. To have received recognition within Virginia’s top varietals such as Viognier, the state grape, and Petit Verdot, is thus especially humbling, reaffirming both our investment and dedication to these programs.

Jefferson's Own Estate Reserve 2016 was crafted solely from the estate’s finest Petit Verdot fruit. This oak-driven red boasts a powerful spice and fig bouquet with a balanced acidity and plum on the palate. The already highly awarded Viognier 2019 opens with intricate floral notes, white peach and nectarine on the nose, the palate is delicate and balanced, before a round and floral finish with a lingering acidity. The Cabernet Franc 2019 vintage is marked by aromas of dark cherry and vanilla, with a palate of piercing cherry, blackberry, and black pepper. In the finish, one tastes candied cherry and vanilla with a balanced acidity, medium tannins and hints of oak. 

Jefferson Vineyards congratulates all of our fellow wineries, as well as the organizers of this year’s Virginia Governor’s Cup event. Together, we expand and advance the reputation of Virginia’s exceptional wines and wineries.

We will be reopening our doors to visitors on March 11, and warmly invite visitors to enjoy our award-winning red and white wines this Spring. In the meantime, you will find our Triple Gold Bundle available in our online store for a limited time. Committed to memorable wine, experiences and education, we continue in Jefferson’s own viticultural dream. 

Time Posted: Mar 2, 2021 at 10:30 AM Permalink to Virginia Governor's Cup Honors Jefferson Vineyards with Three Gold Medals Permalink
Attila Woodward
December 23, 2020 | Attila Woodward

Looking Forward - A Letter From Our Owner

Dear Friends,

What a rollercoaster year we’ve had!  Yet here we are, with an end in sight.  We look forward to 2021 with hope and, of course, some delicious wines.

The year ahead represents a special milestone for us as 2021 marks our 40th Anniversary. The early days of Virginia wine were challenging.  We learned through trial and error, we labored to determine which vine varietals would accept our land and which would not.  Today’s wineries are blessed with the knowledge of years past. Today, we can leverage satellites and soil samples to determine which grape varietals will flourish in one plot of land, versus another. Just like that! Incredible! No such luxuries existed in 1981. Those were the pioneering days of the Virginia wine movement, days we remember fondly.

My grandparents started this venture in 1981 with the goal of creating wine to share with family, friends, and guests. As diplomats setting into a new life, wine was central to the conversations they had around the dinner table. In establishing a vineyard, they sought to make a wine of their own, a wine to serve and enjoy with whoever joined them at the table. They knew and appreciated the viticultural history of this land, and with the talented Gabriele Rausse, our first winemaker, we planted our first acres of vines.

Like my grandfather, my father too was educated in France and deeply appreciative of old-world wines. In 1993, he and his French wife took the reins of Jefferson Vineyards. Over the course of their twenty-years here, they both focused on improving our wine’s quality with the help of now renowned winemakers. First, they flew North to convince Michael Shaps to relocate to Virginia.  Michael became our second winemaker and was succeeded by the French, Frantz Ventre. In my parents’ last decade, they hired the talented Andy Reagan.  Each winemaker, in his own style, improved our wines and left an indelible mark on our winery.

2013 ushered in yet another new chapter for Jefferson Vineyards. My siblings and I, the third generation of Woodward’s, stood at the helm.  We were incredibly lucky to join years after Jefferson Vineyards’ reputation had been cast but there was much work to be done.  We strove to improve and expand: a new tasting room, a new deck, new gardens, new patios, and an expanded parking space.  Our current winemaker, Chis Ritzcovan, and Assistant Winemaker, David Woodside, worked tirelessly on our Viognier wine program. Years later, it now stands as one of Virginia’s most highly awarded Viogniers, vintage after vintage. As it is the state grape of Virginia, we are deeply humbled by this honor.

In all of these endeavors, we were never alone. They say a rising tide lifts all boats, and so it is with other Virginia wineries. Together, we have vastly advanced Virginia’s reputation as an extraordinary wine region. Together, we are making wines that rival any of the best in the world.

In reflecting on how far we have come in these near forty years, I am most proud of Jefferson Vineyard’s unwavering commitment to producing quality wines, created to be shared together with friends, family, and guests.

In January, we will begin sharing a special blog each month to celebrate our rich history, wine programs, and our land. These stories will continue in our originating tradition, evoking the dinner table conversations of my grandparents and parents before me, each of whom believed wine is best enjoyed together.

As we look optimistically towards 2021, I express my immense gratitude to all of you who supported us this year. I am impressed by the talent of all our employees and our tasting room team who did their utmost to keep everyone safe with decorum and warmth.  We could not have gotten through 2020 without your help.

Thank you, and merry holidays! 

Attila Woodward

Time Posted: Dec 23, 2020 at 4:00 PM Permalink to Looking Forward - A Letter From Our Owner Permalink