Vini, vidi, vino: Faber vintner makes wine

In the era of "Freedom fries" it's hard to imagine a politician who would openly admit to an infatuation with France and its culture. But in his day, Thomas Jefferson was an ardent and unabashed francophile who especially enjoyed case after case of fine French wine.

Now, in a twist that would make Voltaire proud, some descendants of les fran├žais Jefferson so much admired are growing their grapes in his backyard.

After a long career in software in Washington, DC, Frenchman Claude DelFosse took up residence in the small Nelson County town of Faber to found DelFosse Vineyards and Winery, the newest addition to Virginia's wide world of wine. Starting a winery was an idea that DelFosse had almost acted on a few times before in his life, including during a sojourn in that other wine state, California.

But rather than go back west or return to his native France when he retired, DelFosse decided that Central Virginia was the place to grow his dream.

"Virginia [wine] wasn't on the map in the '70s when I first came. Now, the wine industry in Virginia has come of age," he says.

State and local governments have been vital in that maturing– a fact that DelFosse was quick to note: his winery venture is funded in part by a $750,000 loan from the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority, and Nelson County authorities have voted to build five miles of trails on his 300-acre Deer Rock Farm. Considering the early acclaim for the first DelFosse vintage, including multiple gold medals from New York's International Eastern Wine festival, those investments promise to be wise ones.

Claude Delfosse is another wine lover staking his claim in central Virginia.