By Robert Hodge
In 1883, Charles E. Hunter, an industrious Fredericksburg foundryman, purchased what was then known as Beck's Island just below the dam in the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg.
Two years later he purchased a tract known as the "Falls Farm." On these properties, under the supervision of Mr. George Arnaud, a Frenchman who had much knowledge of the wine and brandy making processes in France and who had been superintendent of the Monticello Vineyards in Charlottesville, at least twenty acres were put to grapes. By 1888, the island home of Mr. Hunter was also the site of a winepress and at that time he had on location 3,000 gallons of excellent wine.
Miss Sara Hunter, great-granddaughter of Charles E. Hunter, has, as a family heirloom, the illustrated wine bottle with its original paper label.*
It has been reported that the Hunter Vineyard supplied much of the "communion wine" used in local churches.
This article originally appeared in the December 1977 issue of The Fredericksburg Times magazine. Used by permission of the author.
*A bottle of Hunter's Island wine, with part of its original label intact, was recently acquired by the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.