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THE BUSINESS OF WINE

By Peter Leonard-Morgan

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lmost 400 years ago, the first colonial legislative assembly, the House of Burgesses, passed what was known as Acte 12, requiring that all households in Virginia plant 10 vines of European Vitis Vinifera grapes or be punished for not doing so. Such decrees were committed to the history books long ago, yet this marked the beginning of efforts, which, other than a 17-year hiatus during the Prohibition Era, have continued unabated to this day, to cultivate and develop grapevines in Virginia. Those efforts were met with continued failure thanks to a harsh climate, difficult growing conditions and the dreaded phylloxera pest, rendering European varietals unsuitable for successful wine production on America’s East Coast. With failure, however, came gradual progress. During the 1800s, for example, a hardy Virginia grape was discovered by one Doctor Norton, which bears his name to this day. This grape produced a quality wine, winning awards both domestically and on the international stage. Despite the fact that Virginia produces less

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than 1 percent of all wine made in the United States—California not surprisingly claiming the lion's share—the Commonwealth boasts in excess of 260 boutique wineries and has the fifth largest winery population in the nation, resulting in the production of more than 1.6 million gallons of wine in 2016. These numbers may suggest that establishing a vineyard is a fairly simple proposition; the fact is that it is anything but and absolutely not for the faint of heart. So, what is the business of wine? BOXWOOD ESTATE WINERY Siblings Rachel and Sean Martin run Middleburg’s family-owned Boxwood Winery, set on the glorious former horse farm of General Billy Mitchell, father of the United States Air Force. Rachel is Boxwood’s winemaker and viticulturist, as well as the brainchild behind the establishment of the Middleburg AVA, or American Viticultural Area, in 2012. Earning this designation by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), part of the United States Treasury, took six years. Her brother Sean is vice president of Boxwood, and together with their mother

OCTOBER 2017

Rita Cooke and stepfather John Kent Cooke, they acquired the property in 2001 with the sole purpose of establishing a high-quality vineyard and winery. Engaging the services of renowned viticulturist Lucy Morton, they planted an initial eight acres of Vinis Vinifera in 2004, resulting in their first vintage in 2006. Since that planting, the estate has grown to 26 acres under vine today, bottling around 5,000 cases annually. Boxwood’s unique, modernist tasting room and winery was designed by Washington, D.C., architect, Hugh Newell Jacobsen. To round out the mission of developing great wines to complement this special venue, the family hired Stéphane Derenoncourt, an established Bordeaux winemaker, as consultant to work alongside Rachel as the winemaker. Additionally, Boxwood has established tasting rooms in Reston Town Center and the National Harbor, where its customers sample wines from all over the world in an atmosphere and style reminiscent of Boxwood. So, what did it take to get here? Colossal Business | Page 66

Profile for Middleburg Life

Middleburg Life| October 2017  

Middleburg Life| October 2017  

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