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Executive mansion grape harvest

Virginia wine Maureen McDonnell

First Lady Maureen McDonnell is an enthusiastic supporter of Virginia’s wine trade. Photo by Michaele White.

Virginia’s First Lady Maureen McDonnell harvested fruit from ten Chambourcin grapevines at the Executive Mansion in Richmond in late August.

The juice is destined to be included in a wine that will help celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of the Mansion in 2013 as well as Virginia’s burgeoning wine industry.

Mrs. McDonnell was assisted by Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, and Luca Paschina, the general manager and winemaker at Barboursville Vineyards.

Mrs. McDonnell said, “When I picked the first grapes I was so delighted to be standing next to Todd and Luca who were with me last year when this adventure began!  Bob and I have worked tirelessly to promote Virginia wines at home and abroad and it’s been a thrill to experience the grape growing process firsthand.”

The grapes have been transported to Barboursville Vineyards to be fermented just as any other batch produced but on a smaller scale.  The harvested fruit from the Executive Mansion vineyard will be combined with fruit from Barboursville and other wineries and vineyards across the Commonwealth to create a blended red wine to celebrate the Mansion’s bicentennial anniversary and further promote Virginia wine and wine tourism.  More details about this project will be released later this year.

Virginia wine: First Lady Maureen McDonnell and Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards.

First Lady Maureen McDonnell and Luca Paschina of Barboursville Vineyards enjoy tasting the recently harvested Chambourcin grown at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, VA. Photo by Michaele White.

Mrs. McDonnell’s First Lady’s Initiatives Team Effort (FLITE) program brings attention to the great work being done by people around the Commonwealth who are taking the opportunity to leave Virginia a better place than they found it. Mrs. McDonnell has held numerous FLITE wine tours in key wine producing regions of Virginia, introducing restaurateurs, store owners, sommeliers, wine writers, and others to Virginia’s wines. Along with the Governor, the First Lady also has promoted Virginia wine and wine tourism on international economic development missions.