Celebrating the Roots of Virginia Wine with a Toast to Acte 12 - The Williamsburg Winery

Celebrating the Roots of Virginia Wine with a Toast to Acte 12

The decision to plant vineyards and start a winery at Wessex Hundred was met with plenty of skepticism back in the ’80s when Patrick and Peggy Duffeler started their new life in Virginia.

chardonnay vineyards at Williamsburg Winery

Yet growing grapes in the Commonwealth dates back more than 400 years with the passage of Acte 12 by the House of Burgesses in 1619, which required every landowner to plant 10 grapevines in the name of King James. As a steward of Virginia wine history, Patrick Duffeler is passionate about preserving and promoting that pioneering spirit that is often forgotten with so much emphasis reserved for Thomas Jefferson’s early attempts to grow grapes at Monticello.

While Jefferson is the most beloved oenophile, the roots of Virginia wine date back well before his time when the first legislative assembly of the New World passed Acte 12. England’s cold and wet climate made grape growing impractical there. But the emergence of the first English settlement in the New World coupled with Brits’ ongoing war with traditional wine sources France and Spain, prompted the new law.

Of course, those attempts at creating a new avenue for wine were futile as were Jefferson’s efforts nearly 200 years later.

Acte 12 Chardonnay Williamsburg Winery

While the first grapes were planted in 1609 on the land that makes up Wessex Hundred today, it took until 1985, the year the Williamsburg Winery planted its first trial vineyard, for Virginia to be recognized for its potential to become a significant grape growing region.

That brings us to the Williamsburg Winery’s Acte 12 Chardonnay.

This wine, aged in both stainless steel and oak, is packed with layers of plum, red apples, strawberry, cherry, rhubarb, a layer of creamy vanilla and a touch of lemon curd.

Each nuanced flavor beautifully balances on the palate with a bright and yet creamy finish that lingers for a while. 

Order today online from the retail shop or on a seasonable day, enjoy a bottle sitting in the 1619 Pavilion, which opened in 2019 to mark the 400th anniversary of Acte 12.

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