Letter to the Editor

Virginia’s long history with wine

Regarding the May 26 Metro article “A toast to the state’s long winemaking history”:

While Virginia can claim winemaking efforts dating back to colonial times and, more popularly, to Thomas Jefferson’s attempts at Monticello with the assistance of an Italian viticulturalist, the real father of commercial vinifera winegrowing in Virginia is Monticello’s assistant director of gardens and grounds, Gabriele Rausse. Rausse came to Virginia in 1976 and was involved in establishing Barboursville Vineyards, which became the first commercial vinifera winery in the state. He has been, perhaps, the most influential person in Virginia’s wine industry, first demonstrating at Barboursville that vinifera grapes could be successfully grown in Virginia and later serving as a consultant to many of the state’s wineries.

Later, Gerhard Guth, a physician from Hamburg, opened Rapidan River Vineyards in 1981, and Jean Leducq, a French industrialist, started Prince Michel Vineyards in 1983 and later bought Guth’s operation. Guth hired Joachim Hollerith, a graduate of Geisenheim University who was responsible for establishing both Rapidan River Vineyards and Prince Michel Vineyards.

Another important European in the development of Virginia’s wine industry was Jacques Recht, a Belgian wine consultant who held a doctoral degree in enology. After he and his wife, Liliane, retired, they decided to sail around the world on their 36-foot catamaran; however, their travels ended when they sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and Jacques came to work for the Ingleside Plantation Winery. Recht taught at Old Dominion University and was a consultant to a number of wineries. Recht died in 2009 at the age of 78 in Montross, Va.

Charles Whitham, Reston

 
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