Wine Club Discount Day! April 27th – Celebrating of the Life of an American Wine PioneerApr / Upcoming Events
Wine club members, join us this special day for exclusive discount! Offer valid for wine club members only. For more information on membership, click here!
On April 27th, we celebrate the life of Charles Carter of Cleve (ca. 1707–1764), who in 1762 received the first international recognition for producing excellent wine in Virginia in 1762.
Charles Carter, 5th child born of Colonel Robert “King” Carter and Elizabeth Landon-Wells was born in Lancaster County, Virginia, and resided in Lancaster and King George County, Virginia. In 1754, he built Cleve Plantation and its magnificence vied with seats of his brothers, John of Shirley, Robert of Nomini, Landon of Sabine Hall, and with the homes of his sisters, Anne of Berkeley and Judith of Rosewell.
In 1759, a committee of the Virginia assembly was formed and charged with the question of economic diversification, a question made urgent by the depression in the tobacco trade. As its chairman, Charles Carter entered into correspondence with Peter Wyche in London, chairman of the agriculture committee for the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufacture, and Commerce (now the Royal Society of Arts), which offered prizes for various desirable enterprises in the colonies, among them vine growing and winemaking. Carter’s correspondence reveals that the prospects and methods for the cultivation of the grape in Virginia were an important subject. Carter had already begun grape growing at Cleve, where he made wines from both native and European grapes, and it was natural that he should have chosen commercial winemaking as one of his proposals for economic reform in Virginia.
The London society took an encouraging view of Carter’s proposals and recommended various vines and practices, including the trial of distilling brandy from the native grapes. In 1762 Carter, who by then had 1,800 vines growing at Cleve, sent to the London society a dozen bottles of his wine, made from the American winter grape and from a vineyard of “white Portugal summer grapes.”
These samples were so pleasing to taste—“they were both approved as excellent wines,” the society’s secretary wrote—that on October 20, 1762, the society awarded Carter a gold medal as the first person to make a “spirited attempt towards the accomplishment of their views, respecting wine in America.” Mr. Carter died on April 26, 1764. We honor the Founding Father of American Wine with our a special discount to wine club members.