Two weeks ago, Kirk Wiles was in New York City at a party celebrating his inclusion in Wine Enthusiast‘s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers of 2019.
He’s pretty sure no one he talked with that night had ever tasted Virginia wine.
Wiles is the founder and CEO of Paradise Springs Winery in Clifton and in Santa Barbara, California. Wiles says it’s the first bi-coastal wine brand in the United States. With family land, Wiles brought winemaking to Fairfax County in 2007, and 18 months ago, opened a tasting room on the West Coast, which also sells the wine made back east, especially bottles filled with grapes that grow well here: petit mangsang, tannat, petit verdot, Norton.
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“A lot of people have heard of Virginia, and heard we make wine, but they’ve never had access,” says Wiles, about his California customers. For them “to try something different piques their curiosity.”
That’s the same mentality he faced at the Wine Enthusiast party. Those in the know, know Virginia makes good wine. They just can’t find bottles where they live. Much of what is made in the state stays in the state, and most of that is sold directly from the winery tasting room. If Virginia wine can’t get into wine shops and onto restaurant menus, will it ever emerge from its status as a boutique winemaking state? What will it take for Virginia wineries to lose its stigma as a place known more for its pretty scenery than its seriousness in the glass?
This is exactly what Northern Virginia Magazine‘s October cover story is about.
From day trips to au courant grapes to wine shops and wine events, the package celebrates all that our very own wine country has to offer. It also explores Virginia’s reputation in the wine world. Wiles garnering attention from a national media outlet will only help lift the entire industry. The Northern Virginia Magazine will be on local newsstands Thursday, Sept. 19.
At the Wine Enthusiast party, Wiles says even though those he met hadn’t tasted Virginia wines, they still knew of it. They wanted to visit. They wanted to explore. Because as Wiles, the chair of the Virginia Wine Board, is the first to say, Virginia’s “quality is really good. It’s exciting.” // Find Northern Virginia Magazine’s October issue here.