James River Cellars: The Heart of an Industry
Alexander Morgan, general manager of James River Cellars, a charismatic and gregarious man, speaks fondly and from the heart about Virginia wine. Many winery or vineyard managers would be content to have their own business succeed, but Alexander and his staff think bigger. James River Cellars seeks to elevate the entire Virginia wine industry. He says, “Better wines elevate the entire state. The entire state is a brand.” They want the “winery down the road to succeed,” as well.
The winery started as “a hobby” that went horribly awry. At first, they considered planting corn, but “corn wasn’t sexy.” So, they planted grapes, instead. For 15 years, James River Cellars has braved bugs, mishaps, hurricanes, cold snaps, and heavy rains. Now, as a bellwether of Virginia viticulture, they share their knowledge with other wineries and seek to engender trust amongst all the Commonwealth’s vineyards.
Like the Shad Planking, James River Cellars takes an inclusive and openhearted approach. They want anyone and everyone to feel welcome on their breathtaking grounds. They are always trying new ideas to make their winery, and Virginia wine as a whole, more approachable. They have created several novel and amazingly delicious pairings, that you positively have to try:
- James River wine and salsa
- James River wine and donuts
- James River wine and popcorn
Alexander says you’ve got to try the Montpelier (named after the small Virginia town, where the vineyard resides), a not-overly-sweet blush wine. Even if blushes are not normally up your alley, you have to “get past the pink.” Another great choice is the sweet Chambourcin. The flavor is supple and tart and chewy and meaty. Drink it with chocolate or bleu cheese.
Alexander first learned about the Shad Planking from a friend. After doing a little research about the cherished event, he has become personally excited. In his words, “I’m jazzed.” Part of the reason is the synergy of how both the Shad Planking and James River Cellars actually and truly care about their communities. James River Cellars takes the stance that they are a community member, not an island. Among many others, they support local mom and pop shops, the Kidney Foundations, Down Syndrome Awareness, and Catholic Charities.
Visit them right outside of Richmond, at 11008 Washington Hwy, Glen Allen, VA 23059 and, of course, buy some of their amazing wine at the 68th Shad Planking and Grapes & Grains Festival. Get your tickets now.