Wow. October is a very popular month for celebrating wine. Texas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Sonoma County all celebrate wine month in October. To honor the month, today we’re going to talk a little about what makes wines from each location special.
First up, we’ll talk about Texas, of course. Texas wines are slowly gaining steam in the wine world, as more and more people develop an appreciation for Texas wines. Texas currently has over4,000 acres of vineyards growing 25 different grape varieties and 436 wineries. Vineyards exist all over the state in climates ranging from hot and dry to cool and humid and everything in between. As a general rule, the Texas growing season is long, but harvest for many grape varieties begins as early as July because of the Texas heat.
Virginia, where I originally started exploring wine, also has wineries all over the state in varied climates. They specialize in some less common wines like viognier, petite verdot, and cabernet franc, while also growing the more common ones like chardonnay, merlot, and pinot noir. Their growing season ranges from 180-200 days. One of the really special things about wine tasting in Virginia are the views from the wineries. Many of them are in or near the mountains, which results in a beautiful setting to relax and enjoy the view.
October is also Pennsylvania’s wine month. While Pennsylvania isn’t one of the states you normally associate with wine, the first vineyard was planted in the 17th century by William Penn and is now the 5th largest grape growing state in the country, with dozens of varieties happily growing in their vineyards. There are over 200 wineries in the state and they boast of having a winery within an hour’s drive no matter where you are in the state. Given their hot summers and cold winters, Pennsylvania’s climate is similar to Europe’s and they grow many French-American hybrids suited to the climate.
Sonoma County is one of the most well-known American wine regions, so it stands to reason that it gets its own wine month, rather than sharing with the rest of the state. Some of the earliest vineyards in Sonoma County were planted by Russian settlers in the early 19th century. Sonoma County has a wide variety of microclimates with a soil structure of ash and lava due to ancient tectonic activity. There are 18 distinct wine growing regions within Sonoma County due to the many distinct geographic areas.