After Jefferson: Leahy pens history of Virginia wine

Richard Leahy, who helped launch Wine Made Simple over the Townside Shopping Center on Ivy Road, has penned a book: Beyond Jefferson’s Vines: The Evolution of Quality Wine in Virginia.

While Thomas Jefferson tried in vain to produce good wine at Monticello, a couple hundred years later Virginia has become a wine lover's destination with over 200 wineries in operation. Now Leahy, a former editor for Vineyard & Winery Management magazine and an avid wine blogger, has explored the evolution of the Virginia wine biz, covering its history, and interviewing prominent wine makers and legislators who helped the industry along.

"I called it Beyond Jefferson's Vines because many people believe that Thomas Jefferson was the first to plant European grapevines in Virginia," says Leahy, "but he was just one person on a continuum; we need to look back before him and beyond him to the present to get the full perspective on Virginia wines."

Indeed, the history section of the book details new chapters about Virginia wine in colonial history. For instance, 250 years ago, winemaker Charles Carter was awarded a medal by the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce for being the first to successfully make white and red wines from Virginia-grown grapes.

"But the book focuses mostly on the last decade, "says Leahy, "when Virginia has become acknowledged  for producing world-class wines. Most of the book is a travel guide from east to west, highlighting the notable wineries in each region, but there are also chapters on viticulture in Virginia."

According to Wine Enthusiast magazine, “There hasn’t been such an informative, in-depth, and interesting discussion of Virginian wine since Thomas Jefferson first planted vines at his beloved Monticello. A great read and practical guide for oenophiles."

On June 16, Leahy will speak and sign copies of the book at DuCard Vineyards for their Father's Day celebration.

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