Governors Cup Featured in Food & Wine

Virginia Launches Its ‘First Wine Trail’ of Top-Rated Wineries

The Gold Medal Wine Trail points people towards the state’s best wines.

By Mike Pomranz

March 03, 2021

Virginia may not be the first state Americans think of when they think of wine, but for any wine lover willing to look beyond the West Coast, Virginia wineries have been on the map for some time. And now, for the first time, that map is officially organized into a convenient trail.

Credit: Virginia Tourism Corporation

Virginia Wine has announced what’s being billed as “the state’s first wine trail”—called the Gold Medal Wine Trail—which pares down the state’s over 300 wineries into a more manageable list of the 47 wineries (and cideries and meaderies) that were awarded gold medals in 2021 Virginia Wineries Association Governor’s Cup Competition. (If you want to hit up all 300-plus wineries, you’re allowed to; you’re just going to have to do your own Google Map research.)

“We are excited to bring these medalists to consumers this year in a way we never have before,” George Hodson, president of the Virginia Wineries Association, said in the announcement. “By visiting these top-scoring wineries, consumers will be able to taste the artistry and craftsmanship firsthand.”

The trail, which you can sign up for at, is sent as a “passport” to your phone with no app needed. From there, Virginia Wine explains, “When visiting a participating winery, simply open up the pass, locate its listing and check in via your smartphone’s GPS. Once you check into 12 wineries you will receive a free Virginia Wine wine tumbler.” And additionally, many of the wineries are offering their own deals on top of your quest for a tumbler—including things like free tastings, discounts … one place is even doing a “bonus pour.”

As for what’s worth trying, Jay Youmans, judging director of the 2021 Governor’s Cup Competition, offered up some thoughts. “There were so many impressive wines this year. The Petit Manseng and Cabernet Franc flights showed so much character. The Sauvignon Blanc and the Tannat flights were outstanding, as well,” he said. “Year in and year out, we’re seeing the Virginia Wine industry continue to push boundaries and make distinctive wines that show confidence, style and the character of the region.”

But after the year we’ve had, as long as there is alcohol of any kind on the Gold Medal Wine Trail, most people will probably be happy.