NEW KENT, VA--(Marketwire - February 24, 2011) - The picturesque New Kent Winery will kick off its participation in 2011 wine festivals with the Virginia Wine Expo this weekend in Richmond, featuring the winery's newest offering, a unique White Merlot.

Made from the red merlot grape, the White Merlot is New Kent Winery's newest variety and is already proving popular with winery guests who are surprised by the white wine derived from a red grape. 

"The flavor and finish is much different than people expect as it's very balanced and has become our best-selling wine," said New Kent Winery Managing Partner Pete Johns. Johns will be on hand at this year's Expo with the full winery team.

New Kent Winery joins what is proving to be the Mid-Atlantic's premier wine and food event set for Friday through Sunday at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. A record 65 state wineries are expected to be on hand, making it the largest wine event in the state with an expected 10,000 to 12,000 visitors.

At this year's Expo the New Kent Winery will showcase its Reserve Chardonnay for a special Friday night tasting as well as its 2009 Chardonnay, Meritage, Merlot, White Merlot and Vidal Blanc. New Kent Winery has even been invited to participate in a Saturday seminar called East Meets West in which its whites and other Virginia wines are paired with Sushi.

Since its opening in 2008, New Kent Winery's emergence with quality varieties of wine is due in part to winemaker Tom Payette, who was named U.S. Winemaker of the Year by Vineyard & Winery Management magazine in 1999, said Johns.

"Tom puts every ounce of passion and expertise into each bottle we produce," said Johns. "As a lifelong grower and wine lover, I'm proud of the high standards."

Surrounded by vineyards, the 17,000-square-foot winery, a Colonial-style structure, was designed by Williamsburg architect John Hopke and built with more than 70 percent reclaimed historic materials that include 40-foot heart pine trusses from the 1901 Southern Railway Depot in Richmond. It also uses pre-Civil War brick from the city's warehouse district, cypress salvaged from the water of Florida rivers and other exotic woods.

The winery is located in New Kent Vineyards, a new residential community just off of Interstate 64 in New Kent County and a short walk to Viniterra, a gated development. Other vineyards are found along the fairways of the new Viniterra championship golf course. In addition to planting and nurturing the first vineyard almost a decade ago, Johns is also a partner in the Viniterra development.

"Having the vineyard and a winery really lends itself to keeping the area in a rural-type setting which was a key goal for us," said Johns. "We look at the New Kent Winery as
the cornerstone and the centerpiece of this project."

Contact Information:

Pete Johns