|Courtesy of Boxwood Winery|
In terms of the contemporary Virginia wine making industry, that's ancient history and quite a lot has changed since those early petitions. For instance, the petitioner of the North Fork of Roanoke AVA, Woolwine Winery, was the precursor to Chateau Morrisette and this AVA as well as Rocky Knob are currently home to very few commercial vineyards. In contrast, the number of vineyards in Northern Virginia have escalated rapidly in the past two decades particularly in Fauquier County and its northern neighbor Loudoun County, where there are now over 60 wineries operating between the two.
Back in 2006, Rachel Martin, Executive V.P. at Boxwood Winery thought there was enough similar characteristics in geology, soil, climate and geography between many of these wineries that warranted a petition to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to designate a distinct AVA. The TTB defines an American Viticultural Area (AVA) as
A viticultural area for American wine is a delimited grape-growing region having distinguishing features as described in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 27 CFR part 9 and a name and delineated boundary as established in part 9 of the regulations. These designations allow vintners and consumers to attribute a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of a wine made from grapes grown in an area to its geographic origin.
Take the term “estate bottled.” Up until now, a wine can be called “estate bottled” only if (a) it is labeled with an appellation of origin, and (b) the bottling winery is located in the labeled viticultural area, grew all of the grapes used to make the wine on land owned or controlled by the winery within the boundaries of the labeled viticultural area; and crushed the grapes (there are some additional restrictions).