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Virginia Dare Reborn

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virginia dare PicmonkeyTASTE News Service, September 28, 2015 - After a coy public relations campaign begun a year ago, American Pioneer Wine Growers (APWG) last week announced the name of its new property, Virginia Dare Winery.

Over the past year, APWG has released a series of four wines – The White Doe, Manteo, Two Arrowheads and The Lost Colony – each revealing a different aspect of the Virginia Dare legend ultimately culminating in the unveiling of the new winery name.

Francis Ford Coppola in 2001 PicmonkeyFrancis Ford Coppola

Located in Sonoma County’s Geyserville at the site of the old Geyser Peak wine facility, Virginia Dare Winery pays homage to the influential people, places and stories that are part of the origins of early American winemaking. Film maker and winery owner Francis Ford Coppola (Inglenook in the Napa Valley and Francis Ford Coppola Winery, also in Geyserville), is closely-associated with APWG and is known for his keen appreciation of wine history.

“The myth of Virginia Dare always intrigued me, and as a child I remember the Virginia Dare wine because of the pretty blonde girl on the label and the 'Say it again, Virginia Dare’ jingle they used to advertise on the radio,” said Coppola. “My goal is to revive the wine brand so that it isn’t lost to future generations. The winery’s new home in Geyserville is the ideal location in the heart of American wine country to tell the origin stories of American wine.”

Virginia Dare was the first English child born in the New World to colonists in 1587. Virginia’s fate became a mystery after her colony, now referred to as the Lost Colony, vanished from Roanoke Island in the late 1500s. Legend has it that she lived among the Native Americans and grew into a beautiful young woman trapped in the middle of a tragic love triangle when she was turned into a White Doe and ultimately killed. On the very spot where she bled and died, a grapevine sprouted with its fruit stained red. According to the legend, this is how the white wine of America became red wine. The grapevine is widely believed to be the 400-year old Mother Vine, reportedly the oldest cultivated grapevine in North America which still exists today -- a clipping of which will soon be planted in Virginia Dare Winery’s estate vineyard.

Virginia Dare 1947 magazine ad Picmonkey1947 magazine ad The story of the Virginia Dare Winery began with North Carolina’s first commercial winery, Medoc Vineyard, which opened in 1835. Two businessmen, known as the Garrett brothers, purchased the property in 1865 calling it Garrett & Company. They began producing the Virginia Dare label which quickly became one of the nation’s top selling wines. With the start of Prohibition in 1919, Garrett & Company was forced to move, first to Brooklyn, New York, and then to Cucamonga, California, where the business transformed into the Virginia Dare Winery. It was one of the first wineries to sell wine after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 and was considered a booming business for much of the late 40s and 50s, but eventually saw turmoil and nearly faded into history.

It is expected that AMPWG will release two wines under the reborn Virginia Dare label in November, a Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir, both sourced from the Russian River Valley grapes. More information can be had at www.virginiadarewinery.com.


Editor’s note: If you plan on visiting Sonoma County, you may want to first check out the North Coast listings in Taste California Travel’s Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to Winery websites.

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