Virginia is known for a variety of foods, most notably its succulent seafood and award-winning wines. The region has become a real hotspot for food and wine tasting events and festivals. With its diverse geography stretching from the coastal areas of the Chesapeake Bay to the mountain regions along the Shenandoah Valley, the Commonwealth of Virginia is home to more than 44,000 farms. Agriculture is the state’s largest industry. Following is a guide to the specialty foods of Virginia.
Virginia's wine industry has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years both in prestige and in numbers of wineries. Virginia has nearly 300 wineries - and counting - with locations in nearly every part of the Commonwealth. The region offers many wine and food festivals encouraging tourism and the discovery of local grapes and gourmet cuisine. Chardonnay is the most widely produced wine in the state, followed by Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Vidal. Virginia makes wine travel and discovery easy with its 16 wine trails. They are well-marked with grape signs along the roadways.
- Artisanal Wineries of Rappahannock
- Bedford Wine Trail
- Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop
- Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail
- Fauquier County Wine Trail
- Foothills Scenic Wine Trail
- Heart of Virginia Wine Trail
- Loudoun Wine Country – Closest to the Washington DC Area
- Monticello Wine Trail
- Mountain Road Wine Experience
- Nelson 151 Trail
- Shenandoah County Wine Trail
- Shenandoah Valley Wine Country Trail
- SoVA Wine Trail
- Wine Trail of Botetourt County
- 211 Scenic Vino Wine Trail
Although the Blue Crab is widely known as the “Maryland crab”, Virginia is the nation's third largest seafood producer and its watermen thrive on the harvesting of blue crabs, oysters, clams, sea scallops, croaker, striped bass, spot, flounder, catfish, and many other species of fish. Tangier Island, located on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, is referred to as the 'soft shell crab capital of the world'. The Virginia oyster, also known as Eastern or Atlantic oysters, is designated as the state shell of Virginia.
The Tidewater area of Virginia is famous for peanuts. Virginia peanuts are the largest of the four peanut types grown in the United States. Peanuts are a high protein and naturally low sodium food that makes a great snack. They are sold by local companies in a variety of styles: roasted-in-the-shell, salted, unsalted, seasoned with Old Bay, Smoked Cajun, Chili Lime, Mesquite Barbecue, and more.
Virginia Peanut Vendors
Virginia country hams have been famous since the 17th century. Most famous are the Smithfield Hams, which, by law, must be cured within Smithfield's town limits. Country hams are salt cured, slowly hickory smoked, and aged for several months to give it a distinctive flavor. Related meats like bacon and sausage are also local favorites.
Virginia Ham Vendors
Virginia farmers grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. Below is a list of typical Virginia products.
Apples, Asian Pears, Asparagus, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cantaloupes, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Grapes, Green Beans, Greens/Spinach, Herbs, Nectarines, Onions, Peaches, Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Raspberries, Squash, Strawberries, Sweet Corn, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Watermelons