Gov. Ralph Northam raised a toast to the state's burgeoning (and burgundy) wine industry at the Virginia Wineries Association’s Governor's Cup gala. Among the gold medal recipients on Tuesday night was the 2017 Petite Fleur, from The Williamsburg Winery.
The Petite Fleur was one of 68 gold medal recipients of the more than 500 wines submitted from across the state.
A creation from winemaker Matthew Meyer, the Petite Fleur is a blend of Muscat Ottonel and Vidal Blanc, offering hints of apricot, peach, pear, melon and other tropical fruits.
“It is a dessert wine, but it can go with cheese or foie gras,” he said.
Fifteen years ago, Meyer came to Virginia from Napa Valley, California, because of the potential he saw in the state’s young wine industry.
“My inspiration was just to come out here and get involved in something that was, at that time, just starting to grow,” he said. “In the time I’ve been here, I’ve seen an absolute incredible transformation of the wine quality in Virginia, which is exciting to see.”
The Williamsburg Winery’s president and CEO, Patrick Duffeler II, said Virginia has proven without a doubt that it can produce wines that go toe-to-toe with the best the industry has to offer.
“It’s not because I say so. It’s because the wine critics say so,” Duffeler said. “We are just now getting out of our infancy and growing into an awkward adolescence, and I think the best has yet to come.”
Kathryn Parsons, who traveled to Richmond to represent The Williamsburg Winery at this year’s gala, said the 2017 Petite Fleur is available in their retail shop, at williamsburgwinery.com and at their Colonial Williamsburg location.
“It’s a very popular wine. We don’t do a whole lot in the way of dessert wines,” Parsons said. “So for our clients that like something a bit sweeter, it’s the perfect mix.”
Parsons said the wine is not “overly sweet,” and that “there’s enough acidity to balance that so it just feels bright and fruity.”
Every wine submitted to the competition was required to have been made from 100 percent Virginia fruit. Of the gold medal recipients, 12 of the top-scoring wines comprised the Governor’s Case, from which the winner of the Cup was announced.
Before an audience of hundreds of people, Northam awarded the first-place trophy to Horton Vineyards for their 2016 Petite Manseng.
“Virginia’s wine industry has uncorked remarkable growth in recent years, generating over a billion dollars in economic impact annually and creating thousands of job opportunities for Virginians,” Northam said.
Following the event, Northam’s office released a statement giving further praise to Virginia’s blossoming wine industry.
“Virginia winemakers have developed a fluency in reading the signs from their soil and growing distinctive varietals that have found a home in Virginia,” the statement said.