Local wineries may have taken a beating during record-breaking snowstorms, but according to wine experts, a good smack down makes the commonwealth of Virginia the ideal tourist wine spot.
"Great wines like to suffer," said Jim Barker, president of the Washington Wine Academy. "They like to fight for it, and that adds to the character of the grapes."
According to Barker, grapes do not thrive in hotter climates or prime farmland.
In effect, Virginia is on its way to becoming the go-to state for American wines. Barker classified Virginia as the fifth element of the U.S. wine market, with states California, Oregon, Washington and New York taking the lead. Barker said the spring and summer seasons are typically ideal for wine tours.
"Spring really is a beautiful time to visit Virginia wineries, with 160 wineries across the state and now approximately 15 different wine trails," said Tamra Talmadge-Anderson, public relations director for the Virginia Tourism Corp.
The wine trails offered build upon a theme or an individual's taste preference. On wine trails, visitors can travel from winery to winery across the state or region. Winery trails can last up to one or two days.
The General's Wine & History Trail seeks to highlight American history with fine wines inspired by the heritage of the winemakers. For the outdoors type, the Foothills Scenic Wine Trail sends tourists to wineries at the edge of the Shenandoah National Park.
Currently, the specialty wine of Virginia is the viognier or the norton, whose grape is native.
"Each region up the state has wineries, and those wineries definitely have regional success stories," Talmadge-Anderson said.
Upcoming events also include Virginia's first ever wine week, titled Love by the Glass. The event will feature more than 100 restaurants and wine companies that sell Virginia wines. The Boar's Head Inn has two restaurants participating in the event -- the Old Mill Room and Bistro 1834.
"We are in the heart of the wine country and we are excited to talk more about the local wines," said Sadiqh Hussain, restaurant manager for the Boar's Head. "We support our local farmers and also support our local wineries."SIDEBAR Can't get enough Virginia wines? The Virginia government Web site now features a "wine widget" for Mac computers. Download the application at virginia.gov and scroll through more than 100 Virginia wineries instantly. Each tab offers driving directions, descriptions, operating hours and nearby attractions. The widget also features a "get and share" button that allows the user to upload the application to social networking Web sites like Facebook or Blogger. And while you're at it, download the Virginia Is For Lovers hotel booking widget to help plan future wine travels.