Clash of the titans

By Posted on Apr 25 2015 | By

Fauquier County verus Napa Valley  

027With Fauquier’s surge in wineries, does it have a shot at trumping the motherland of U.S. quality wine production? In a word: no.

Let’s not be negative here. There’s a multitude of reasons why our county’s wine industry will continue to flourish. But to contemplate beating Napa at its own game is a stretch.

Yes, Fauquier makes wine and Napa makes auto parts. But slick slogans won’t raise the quantity of grapes needed to become the Nation’s center of award-winning wines. Why?

At first glance, it seems Fauquier has a crack at a dramatic expansion of wineries. After all, Napa is home to some 400 wineries situated on 788 square miles.

Fauquier, on the other hand, has only 23 wineries resting on almost the same land mass; 651 square miles. In terms of potential growing area, Fauquier is clearly in the running.

But today, an acre of Virginia vineyard costs $20,000 to install, not including the cost of the land. And then the heartache of growing the delicate Vitis vinifera grape comes into play.

In our Continental climate of cold winters, humid summers, fungi and small and large game depredation, the challenge of successful grape growing is fierce. Yes, it really is a jungle out there.

In Napa, the climate is considered Mediterranean; mild winters with sufficient rains to carry its vines through a relatively dry and warm growing season. The only serious issue facing Napa today is a record-breaking drought. Stay tuned on the impact of that phenomenon if it doesn’t break in 2015.

Moreover, a vineyard in Napa might be sprayed three times a season to protect against fungi and insects. During a rainy, humid summer in Fauquier, vineyards might be sprayed 15 times or more.

Partly because of these problems, Virginia is currently experiencing a grape shortage. Experts counsel that 200 newly planted acres need to be installed each year for the next five years just to keep pace with the current wine demand.

So let’s forget pole vaulting over Napa and take pride in what Virginia has achieved today; the fifth largest wine producing state in the United States.

Published in the Spring 2015 edition of inFauquier magazine.


Categories : WINE ARTICLES