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Demystifying AVAs

Vineyard Map: Castalia
Vineyard Map: Ben Coolyn

What is an AVA or an American Viticultural Area?

It is simply a particular grape-growing area within a state or region recognized by and registered with the federal government. Adapted from the European regional systems, the United States created its own AVA designations in the 1980s and today has over 260 different AVAs in 34 states. If an AVA designation is recognized on the label, at least 85 percent of the grapes must come from that AVA’s region. Appreciating and understanding where a grape’s origin is grown can help you enjoy and purchase wines confidently.

Virginia, known as the birthplace of America’s wine industry, originated in 1774 by Thomas Jefferson when he planted clippings imported and shipped over from some of Europe’s best vineyards to Virginia and planted at his home Monticello. Widely known for his love of fine wines, it is no wonder to vintners and connoisseurs alike where our AVA got its name. Virginia has eight AVAs, including the oldest and most recognized, the Monticello AVA. This is where Southwest Mountains Vineyards proudly grows its grapes on our three Keswick Estate Farms.

Our winemaking region, of which the historic town of Charlottesville is at the heart of, features spectacular picturesque views, top-rated dining, and memorable wine experiences. It is truly an outstanding representation of what the region’s top wine growers and most talented winemakers are capable of.