Virginia Beach’s wine culture has hit the roof in the past five years

Wineries are on the rise in Virginia Beach according to Advance Master Sommelier Candidate, Marc Sauter. (Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)
Wineries are on the rise in Virginia Beach according to Advance Master Sommelier Candidate, Marc Sauter. (Southside Daily/Melanie Occhiuzzo)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Wine culture in the city has slowly been on the rise with new tasting rooms, wine bars and even wine sellers opening up shop.

Wine has a social aspect to it that keeps people together, sharing stories about different wines they’ve tried and sellers they’ve met, said Marc Sauter, advance master sommelier candidate.

Sauter is a sommelier, in other words he’s been tested on and has a deep knowledge of wine and everything to do with wine.

He works as a partner at Zoe’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant by the Oceanfront.

Sauter handles the wine list, orders wine, works with the head chef to create monthly wine dinners and also helps customers with food and wine pairings for meals.

People are fascinated by what he knows about wine but Sauter puts it simply, “I pull corks out of bottles and tell stories.”

Public interest in wine and learning about the history and origins behind the bottle have steadily been on the rise, he said.

When Sauter started in the business of wine, there were perhaps 50 or so wineries in Virginia — now there are around 300.

“We are a melting pot with the military,” he added, adding he thinks wine is so popular in the area because people who live here have been all over the world, tasting different foods and different wines.

There’s more to it than just grapes, he noted, everyone has a different definition of what a good wine is.

Sauter dedicates some of his free time to helping other aspiring Sommeliers with training and blind taste testing.

But overall, the average person wants to taste a good wine and hear the story behind what made it, he said.

Wine lovers in the city are seeking out wine bars and restaurants that can give them good recommendations on wine, Sauter added.

To find a wine bar in the city, check out this list.

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