It’s been a long, hard road. You still see restaurants with wine lists that may have just a token Virginia wine on them. It’s going to take many years for people to have all-Virginia wine lists…People are stubborn, and it’s been a tough sell to get them to take on Virginia, but the barriers are being broken.
Oakencroft Vineyard & Winery
Oakencroft Vineyard & Winery (CLOSED)
Felicia Warburg Rogan is widely considered the First Lady of Virginia Wine. In 1976 she relocated from New York to Virginia to marry John B. Rogan, a real estate developer and cattle rancher in Charlottesville. She befriended Lucy Morton, a noted viticulturist, and in 1983 her husband’s Oakencroft Farm became Oakencroft Vineyard and Winery. She planted European varietals, invited her gardener, Deborah Welsh, to be the winemaker, and turned a farm building into a tasting room. This new all-female venture was the first of its kind and only the sixth winery to open in Virginia (today, there are 135). In her twenty-five-year career as president of Oakencroft Vineyard and Winery, Mrs. Rogan has found time to look outside of her own estate to work in support of Virginia’s burgeoning wine industry. She led the charge to establish the Monticello appellation for the area, started the Jeffersonian Grape Growers Society, and was chairwoman of the Virginia Wine Growers Advisory Board for a number of years. But now Felicia Rogan’s long history in the wine industry is coming to a close. The First Lady of Virginia Wine is retiring. The estate has been sold, and Oakencroft Vineyard and Winery will shut its doors at the end of 2008. But Felicia Warburg Rogan will continue to support the industry she helped to create.
Date of interview: June 16, 2008 Interviewer: Amy C. Evans Photographer: Amy C. Evans