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Early Days of the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station

Established by the Virginia General Assembly in 1886, the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station was located on the 283 acre campus of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (VAMC) (later named Virginia Polytechnic Institute (VPI), and today - Virginia Tech).

Station Vineyards, 1889

William Bradford Alwood was instrumental in early success of the wine grape industry in Virginia. He was an honorary president of the Monticello Grape Cooperative and contributed to the success of the Montecello Wine Company. In 1900, Alwood toured Europe for almost a year to learn about enology and viticulture. He brought back technology that led to the success of the Virginia wine and fruit industry. After leaving VPI in 1904, he was appointed chief of the national enology lab, which he ran from his farm in Charlottesville, VA. While at VPI, Alwood established an experimental vineyard to support his research and outreach work.

From Bulletin No. 2, October 1889...

In planting the experiment work with fruits, the importance of grape growing in Virginia has been kept in view; and the Station has endeavored, in the short time which has ensued, to establish a model vineyard, composed of standard varieties, and as far as practicable, of all the new ones of promise. The list is being added to as opportunity presents itself.


The work with grapes will include special efforts to improve on the varieties commonly grown. To this end the wild species of the United States, the European species, and also a number of European varieties, have been procured, and will be used in efforts at cross fertilization and hybridization.


The above name and other practical questions in viticulture will, for some years, form an important part of the work in horticulture.


Grapes - Black (15)

 Black Eagle Herbert
 Clinton Ives
Concord Mills
Cynthiana Monroe
Early Victor
Moore's Early
Eumelan Worden


 Grapes - Red and Amber (16)

Amber Queen
Berckmans Jefferson
Brighton Lindley
Catawba Norfolk Muscat
Delaware Poughkeepsie
Diana Rochester
Excelsior Ulster Prolific
Gaertner Wyoming


Grapes - White (17)

Duchess Perkins
Elvira Peter Wylie
Empire State
F. B. Hayes
Lady Rebecca
Lady Washington
Martha Transparent
Moore's Diamond


 A list of 40 unnamed seedlings are also under trial.


European varieties (34)

Black Frontignon
Muscat Hamburg
Black Lombardy
Muscat of Alexandria
Black St. Peters
Muscat Provence
Burchardt's Prince
Muscat St. Laurent
Buckland's Sweetwater
Napoleon's Muscadine
 Champion Hamburg
 Pope's Hamburg
 Charlesworth Tokay
 Primavis Frontignon
 Chasselas Duhamel
 Prince Albert
 Deacon's Superb
 Royal Muscadine
 Duke of Baceleugh
 Santa Cruz
 Foster's White
 Gen'l Della Marmora
 Golden Hamburg
 Victoria Hamburg
 Grizzly Frontignon
 White Frontignon
 Gros Blen
 Wilmot's Hamburg
 Madres field Court
 Wilmot's No. 16
 Marchioness of Hastings


 Wild (Vitis) Species (21)

Arizonica Linsecomii
Berlandieri Monticola
Bourquina Munsoniana
Californica Riparia
Champinii Rotumdifolio
Cinerea Rubra
Candicans Rupestris
Coriacere Vinifera



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