A Fancy Welcome to the 2nd Annual Virginia Wine Summit in Richmond

Yesterday turned out to be unexpectedly delightful. After a relatively short drive from Raleigh to Richmond, we arrived at The Jefferson Hotel—our stay for the next two nights and home of the second annual Virginia Wine Summit, a two-day wine conference taking place in the hotel’s grand atrium and ball rooms.

The Jefferson Hotel was supposed to open on November 1, 1895, but at the last minute it was realized that November 1 was a Friday, and it was considered bad luck to start anything on a Friday. So the hotel was opened on Halloween instead.

The Jefferson Hotel was supposed to open on November 1, 1895, but at the last minute it was realized that November 1 was a Friday, and it was considered bad luck to start anything on a Friday. So the hotel was opened on Halloween instead.

You may have heard of the Jefferson Hotel. Built in 1895 and completed on Halloween day, the renowned hotel has hosted the likes of President Obama, both President Bush and George W., both Roosevelts, Taft, stars including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the cast of several films.

Some speculate the grand staircase was featured in Gone with the Wine Wind, and was where talent Bill “Bojangles” Robinson was discovered by his agent. 

Another fun fact — the Jefferson Hotel’s fountains were once home to alligators brought up from Florida and abandoned when they we no longer “cute” enough to fit in someone’s purse…   We can only imagine how the gators were relocated once they ripened to adult size!

 The Jefferson Hotel was supposed to open on November 1, 1895, but at the last minute it was realized that November 1 was a Friday, and it was considered bad luck to start anything on a Friday. So the hotel was opened on Halloween instead. From the time the hotel opened until 1937, rooms were just $1.50 per night.  A room with a private bath was $1 more per night.  The Thanksgiving Day Dinner at the hotel in 1949 cost $2.50.  When Elvis stayed at the hotel in 1956, he brought his own television and the hotel manager was shocked that Elvis ate his bacon with his fingers. In the mid 1950s, the hotel had a pink limousine to drive guests throughout the city.  The Jefferson has been in several movies including My Dinner with Andre (1981), First Kid (1996), HBO's Ironed Jawed Angels (2004), The American President (1995) and the recently discovered Rock and Roll Hotel (early 1980's).  Alligators once resided in marble pools in the Palm Court Lobby.  Richmonders would vacation in Florida and bring the baby alligators home as pets.  As they outgrew sinks and bathtubs, residents would bring them to live at The Jefferson.  Tour the hotel’s public area and see how many alligators you can find today!

Alligators once resided in marble pools in the Palm Court Lobby. Richmonders would vacation in Florida and bring the baby alligators home as pets. As they outgrew sinks and bathtubs, residents would bring them to live at The Jefferson

The Wine Summit brings us here as one guest (Heather) and one contributing panelist (Phillip). The annual event, currently in its second year, is intended to expose buyers, sommeliers, retailers and wine producers to the scope of what Virginia wine production has to offer. There are even a few food writers, press professionals and a chocolatier on hand to provide a different perspective on VA wine’s reach.

When we arrived on Sunday, we were immediately greeted by Richmond’s hospitality and friendliness. If we didn’t love where we live already, we could easily see Richmond becoming home—a mid-size city focused on higher education, culture and family. Richmond is similar to Raleigh in many regards. We checked into our lofty hotel room with just enough time to head back out the door with a group of Wine Summit attendees en route to the welcome reception being held at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The Museum, already closed for the evening, made the perfect backdrop for the meet and greet. Heather especially loved the setting. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is among the top art museums in the nation.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts entrance

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts entrance for the 2013 VA Wine Summit reception

It’s easy to get to know folks in a crowd when the wine is flowing. Our first sip was a glass of 2008 Trump Sparkling Rosé from the Monticello AVA. Starting a festive evening with either a bubbly white or a sparkling rosé means you’re going to have a great time, and that we did!

Trump-Sparkling-Rose

Virginia-Wine-Summit-Reception

Virginia-Wine-Summit-Reception-2

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